I loves me some apples! Honestly, I’m not such a big fan of pears (bad childhood experience with canned pears — yuk!), but my son loves ’em. Apples are known as “nature’s toothbrush” as they help clean the teeth and massage the gums. Both apples and pears make excellent — and healthy — snacks and tasty desserts, easy to pack in your kids’ lunch box or to “brown bag” to work.
- Approx. 60 per medium sized apple / 75 per cup, chopped
- Apples contain modest amounts of some vitamins or minerals. However, pectin (located in and just below the skin) may help reduce cholesterol. Also, as a dessert, apples can help satisfy a sweet tooth without causing a big spike in your blood sugar. Be careful about serving upeeled apples to babies and toddlers, though — the peels are choking hazards for kids under the age of three.
- How to select:
- Look for smooth-skinned apples that aren’t shriveled and are very firm. Beware of bruises (look for small depressions in the skin) or overly-soft fruits.
- If necessary, you can let apples ripen further at room temperature for a day or two. They’ll keep in the refrigerator for two to four weeks before they start to get soft. Soft apples can still be used for applesauce or in baking recipes. Versatile apples offer many longer-term storage options: they can be dried, turned into fruit leather, canned, made into applesauce (can be frozen), or frozen as slices (good for use in pies). Frozen apples or applesauce will keep for up to 12 months.
- Approx. 50 per medium sized pear
- Good source of fiber, vitamins A, B, C and iron.
- How to select:
- Pears should be somewhat firm, but not hard. Seek out pears that are slightly soft, as they have already begun to ripen, which indicates they’re mature and will ripen sufficiently on their own. Unless you can eat them pretty much right away, buy fruits that are slightly underripe and let them ripen at home. Avoid immature fruits that appear to be wilted or shriveled — they will never ripen.
- You can ripen pears at room temperature for up to five days. They’ll keep for up to another five days in the refrigerator. For long term storage, you can keep in a root cellar, dry, or freeze (sliced or puréed). Frozen, pears will keep for up to a year. The Bartlett variety is generally recommended for freezing and drying; so-called “winter pears” such as Anjou, Bosc and Comice are better for root cellaring and do not freeze as successfully.