The temperatures are (finally) cooling off, and I’ve got a hankering to head up to the mountains and visit one of Georgia’s many gorgeous apple orchards. Apples are high in fiber and contain iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C. In other words, this quintessential fall fruit is a fantastic option for the breakfast table, the lunchbox, or for afterschool snacks! Purchasing from a local orchard is a great way to support Georgia farmers and to save money by buying in bulk and in season.

When buying apples in large numbers, store them in a well-ventilated, cool, dark space. Avoid apples with soft spots, but don’t worry about rough brown patches (known as “russeting”). Be sure to wash your apples before consumption.

Of course, I love the crisp crunch of an apple all by itself, but here are some of my other favorite uses for apples:

•Make applesauce in the slow cooker. This couldn’t be easier! Use about three pounds of apples of any variety. Wash, peel, and chop into one-inch pieces. Add apples to a five-quart slow cooker, along with ½ cup water, two to three cinnamon sticks, one tablespoon of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Cook on high for four hours, stirring occasionally. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze in rigid containers for up to three months. (Leave about one inch of headspace between applesauce and lid of container.)

Bonus tip: you can also substitute applesauce for oil in many of your favorite baking recipes! For cakes, you can sub applesauce to oil 1:1. For cookies and bars, substitute half the oil with applesauce.

•Make apple salad. Wash and cut two tart apples into one-inch pieces (I like Granny Smith). In a medium bowl, toss apple with two tablespoons of dried raisins or cranberries, three tablespoons of of plain, low-fat yogurt, and one tablespoon of nuts (I like walnuts). You can also add a tablespoon of honey if you like things on the sweeter side. Serve immediately.

•Make apple oatmeal muffins. Mix together ½ cup non-fat milk and 1/3 cup apple sauce. Gently stir in ½ cup whole wheat flour, ½ cup quick-cooking oats, ¼ cup sugar, ½ tablespoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Wash and chop one tart apple (leave the peel on—two-thirds of an apple’s fiber are in its peel!). Gently mix in chopped apple. Spoon mixture into baking tin lined with cupcake liners (will yield about six muffins). Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

For more information on nutrition, food preparation, and healthy living, contact UGA Extension in Banks County: 706-677-6230 or You can also visit our website.

Nutrition information and recipes adapted from: UGA Extension Farm Fresh & Fast Series, North Dakota State University Extension’s Steps to Healthy, Economical Meals, Cooking Matters, and USDA’s MyPlate.

Susan Burton is the Banks County 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) Extension Agent.

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