Get to know your local apple

Autumn in Nova Scotia means apples, apples everywhere. Across the province, and especially in the Annapolis Valley, you’ll find orchards and farms bursting with the shiny red fruit. Nova Scotia is the top apple exporter in Canada, with almost 5,000 acres of land devoted to the crop – the fourth largest acreage in the country.

It’s easy to overlook this ubiquitous fruit, but there are lots of ways you can use apples to boost your nutrition and enhance your favourite recipes.

Health benefits
Apples are an excellent source of dietary fibre, antioxidants and vitamin C. Eating them regularly can help lower your risk of cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. They are fibre powerhouses, with one medium apple containing about four grams of fibre. Fibre helps improve your gut health, lower cholesterol and prevent gallstones. It can also help control sugar spikes, making apples a great snack for people with diabetes.

To get the full fibre payoff, always eat the skin; it’s also loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. Opt for spray-free fruit when possible; but no matter what apples you buy, always wash them before you dig in.

Support local producers
Producers in Nova Scotia grow more than 40 apple varieties – check out this list for descriptions of the main ones. New apple varieties are often sweeter and less acidic, and may have less antioxidants than older varieties. No matter what you like, autumn is the time to stock up at your local farmers’ market or vegetable stand, or head to the country and pick your own.

Once you bite into a fresh, juicy apple that you’ve picked yourself, you’ll dread going back to store-bought apples. There’s a multitude of U-picks in Nova Scotia that you can visit for a fun weekend road trip. Head out in the morning to beat the crowds, pack a picnic, and see what varieties you enjoy the most. Check out a list of U-picks across the province.

Tasty recipes and swaps
Apples are the star of many recipes, including classics like apple crisp, apple pie and apple loaf. (Some home chefs swear by certain varieties for baking, such as Gravenstein, Northern Spy, Idared and Russet, but you can experiment!)

Apples can also add zing and boost nutrition in savoury dishes, including soups, meats and salads; try honey-roasted apple parsnip soup, apple walnut salad, apple BBQ pulled pork or apple, fennel and blue cheese stuffed pork loin.

You can even use apple sauce as a nutritious replacement for oil or butter in baking recipes, including muffins and cakes. Use apples that are bruised or past their prime to make your own homemade apple sauce; keep it in the fridge for snacks and swaps in your favourite recipes. You can even make a “no-waste” apple jelly using the apple skins and cores.

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