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Mellow and ready

Crisp Fuji and Gala apples from Giant Eagle
Crisp Fuji and Gala apples from Giant Eagle
Jennie Hardenbrook

We’ve all been told to ‘chill out’ or ‘mellow out.’ But have you ever heard of an apple mellowing out? Apparently it’s part of the apple’s ripening process. And you thought an apple a day was only 80 calories and kept the doctor away!

I visited with Bill Patterson of Patterson Fruit Farm a year ago and got an A+ on his lesson about apples, their storage, and the ripening process.

“Once you pick an apple you need the apple to ‘mellow out,’” said Patterson. “That is the starches breaking down to sugar for the ripening period.”

The storing of apples is important as well and can contribute to this process. Patterson explainedabout the farm’s controlled atmosphere storage and the effects it has on the apples.

“A lot of the apples that we get here starting in mid-September through mid-October, that we pick, we put into a controlled atmosphere storage,” said Patterson.

Patterson Farm’s obtains the controlled atmosphere storage by pushing nitrogen and carbon dioxide into the storage, which pushes out the oxygen and ethylene.

“It’s [the] oxygen and ethylene that allow for the aging process,” said Patterson. “It’s sort of a natural way of stopping the ripening process without any chemicals. Apples produce ethylene in its ripening process, which further ripens the fruit.”

When an apple is growing, the apple creates starches during this period.

“Once an apple gets to its ripening period (this is) where it starts breaking down the starches into sugars,” said Patterson. “That’s what the additional oxygen and ethylene breaks down – the starches into sugar.”

“A Fuji, Goldrush, and a Braeburn probably peak in flavor in January and February,” said Patterson. “Once you pick off the tree that would go along the lines of mellowing. You’re going to eat a Fuji on November 1 and you’re going to think that’s a pretty good apple.”

Giant Eagle has Gala, Granny Smithand Fujiapples on sale –10 lbs. for $10.00. Now that’s a bargain… and what a healthy snack for the kids! Hey moms: with spring breaks happening all around Cleveland, what a great afternoon snack

The Galaapple is mellow and very versatile. It’s a great variety for eating and baking. I usually eat it or cut it up for fruit salads. Not tart or too sweet, the Gala is that perfect apple with a perfect balanced flavor.

Granny Smithapples are very tart and crisp. They’re one of the best apples in a medley apple pie – which is an apple pie made with at least four or more different types of tart apples (Braeburn, Melrose, Jonathan and McIntosh).

One of my favorite apples to dip into my yogurt is the Fuji apple. It wasn’t a surprised to learn that the apples I purchase each week at Giant Eagle are from last year’s harvest. Remember, I’m not getting bad apples.

By educating their customers, Patterson Fruit Farm teaches the customer either how to ‘mellow out’ their own picked apples or how to purchase them at your local grocery store.

Monday was the first day of spring! I’m excited about the anticipation of sunshine! Local stores are showing signs of spring with lots of bright flowers and fruit at great prices. In fact, there are apples everywhere!

Until next time…

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What to do with apples:

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