Apples

native to: Central and southwestern Asia, and Eastern Europe
in season here: late August through October
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Apples provide phytonutrients that help regulate blood sugar and fiber that helps regulate blood fat to prevent heart disease. They support digestion by improving the bacterial balance in the large intestine. They also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and asthma. Eating whole apples (as opposed to applesauce or apple juice) is particularly useful in satisfying hunger and helping dieters eat less. Although apples are mostly carbohydrate, they have a low glycemic index. They also offer moderate amounts of vitamin C and potassium. The red color in an apple’s skin is caused by the polyphenol anthocyanin; quercetin is another nutrient particularly found in the skin of an apple. Polyphenols are also behind the browning of sliced apples.

Apples are members of the Rose family, related to apricots, plums, cherries, raspberries, and almonds. They fall into two categories: cooking apples such as Granny Smith, Gravenstein, and Jonagold, and dessert apples such as Fuji, Braeburn, and Delicious (the heritage kind, not the pretty-but-tasteless later strains). While “cooking” apples can also be eaten fresh, and in fact many prefer a nice tart snack, dessert apples seldom cook up well. There are some 7000 apple varieties.

Apples are another of the “Dirty Dozen” that tend to have pesticide residues when grown conventionally. Most apples are coated in some kind of wax to keep them from drying out and shriveling; even organic apples can have such a coating, as long as the wax is organic. The carbs in apples can be a problem for those with IBS, but actual allergies to apples are rare.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw apples
label-style nutrition information for apple juice
World’s Healthiest Foods
Authority Nutrition

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Applesauce

cooking apples, quartered or eighthed (and cored if you’re fastidious)
water
cinnamon to taste (optional)
sugar to taste (optional)

Put apple pieces into a saucepan or kettle (depending on how many you’ve got). Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and keep the apples from burning. Cook over moderate heat, stirring regularly, until the apples are all mushy. Run through a food mill to remove skins and seeds (you may want to let it cool a bit first unless you’re canning it). Taste; add cinnamon if desired and a little sugar if necessary.

Jonagold is a good variety to use for applesauce. Sauce may be canned; pack hot and process in boiling water 20 minutes for pints or quarts, 15 minutes for half-pints/jelly jars (any good canning book will provide full details).

From Dorothy Huffman.

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Tomatillos

native to: Mexico
in season here: fall
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Although tomatillos, or husk tomatoes, look like tomatoes in a husk, they’re more closely related to cape gooseberries. They’re normally green and used in sauces, but there are red and purple varieties that can be made into jam. They’re members of the nightshade family and can promote inflammation, although they don’t have as much alkaloid (which is what might be called the pro-inflammatory at issue) as other nightshades.

Tomatillos offer vitamins A, C, and K, niacin, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and fiber. They also have unique antioxidant phytochemicals called withanolides, which have anti-cancer and antibacterial properties, and antioxidant flavonoids such as beta carotene. They’re a low-calorie food, making them a good choice for weight loss, and their niacin helps boost energy levels. Their vitamin A and beta carotene make them good for the eyes.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw tomatillos
Organic Facts
recipes for fermented tomatillo salsa

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Pork Tenderloin in Tomatillo Sauce

Tomatillo sauce:
2 lbs. tomatillos, husks removed, washed
2 large jalapenos
1 large onion, cut into wedges
6 – 8 large cloves garlic, peeled
cilantro to taste
juice of 1 lime
salt to taste

Place an oven rack a few inches from the broiler. Arrange tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, and garlic on a roasting pan and place a few inches from the broiler. Broil 5-6 minutes, until they start to char. Turn over and broil another 5-6 minutes, until tomatillos are soft and blackened. Remove from oven and cool about 20 minutes. Split the jalapenos in half lengthwise and remove the seeds (reserve some seeds for a hotter sauce). Place vegetables and their juices in a blender and puree until desired consistency is reached; it should be a little chunky. Add the cilantro, lime juice, and of salt; pulse a few more times to mix. Can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Pork tenderloin:
3 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
bacon grease, lard, or vegetable oil, for browning
2 lbs pork tenderloin, cut into cubes
1/4 cup Mexican-style beer
1 recipe tomatillo sauce (above)

Combine flour, salt, and cumin in a large mixing bowl. Add the pork cubes and gently toss to coat. Brown the pork in hot grease/oil, cooking one layer at a time, about 1 – 2 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon, set aside, and continue with the remaining pork. Deglaze the pan with beer, scraping up any leftover browned bits as the beer bubbles. Return the browned pork cubes to the skillet and add tomatillo sauce. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil; reduce heat and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. May be made a day or two in advance; flavor improves with time.

Serve with:
Small corn or flour tortillas
Cooked rice
Cooked beans
Chopped cilantro
Lime wedges

Adapted from The Kitchn

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Grapes

native to: many regions, including Asia, Africa, and North America
in season here: late August-September
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Grapes can be loosely categorized as table, wine, or raisin grapes. They’re technically berries, and come in a wide range of colors and sizes. They were cultivated in Asia as early as 5000 B.C.E and come to us with a certain mystique, being the source of the classical world’s sacred intoxicant, wine. In the 2nd century C.E., when they were being planted in the Rhine Valley, over 90 varieties were known. Different native varieties can be found all over the world. Concord and muscadine grapes are native to North America, while the Amur grape is native to Asia.

Grapes are a source of several phytonutrients, including resveratrol, that are thought to increase longevity. They have a low glycemic index and are good for balancing blood sugar (two points that, it turns out, are not as closely linked as we’ve been led to believe). They also provide melatonin and unique oligopeptides with antibacterial properties. The skins and seeds (if any) are particularly high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Grapes also greatly benefit the cardiovascular system, including blood pressure regulation and improving cholesterol levels. Regular consumption of grapes or grape juice can even improve your ability to learn, making them a great study snack. They also provide vitamins B2, C, and K, as well as copper and other micronutrient minerals. Raisins, of course, are higher in sugar and calories, although they offer pretty much the same nutrients otherwise.

Grapes are another of those foods that retain pesticide residues well, making organic grapes a good choice. Genetically engineered grapes do exist, but are still very rare. Generally speaking, red grapes are the sweetest, white grapes (actually light green) are next, and purple or blue-black grapes are the least sweet and most “grape-y” in flavor. Grapes can be frozen, although that does reduce their flavor somewhat; frozen grapes can make a great summertime snack.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw grapes
label-style nutrition information for grape juice
label-style nutrition information for raisins
World’s Healthiest Foods
raisins at Nutrition and You

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Spiced grape juice

3-4 lbs. white grapes, or a combination of white, red, and purple grapes*
water as needed
generous 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
4 cloves
1/4-inch piece of long pepper**
dash nutmeg
9 cardamom seeds
1/4 tsp. grains of paradise**
1/4 tsp. chopped ginger

Wash and stem grapes. Place in a kettle and add enough water to keep grapes from burning. Slowly heat grapes, occasionally mashing and stirring, until they start to simmer. Simmer grapes (still mashing and stirring occasionally) until soft and starting to burst, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a jelly bag or several layers of cheesecloth and let juice drain into a kettle or bowl (I have found that cheesecloth laid over a steamer basket fitted into a good-sized kettle works well). Leave to drip several hours, then squeeze bag or cheesecloth to express any remaining juice. Discard skins and chill juice at least 24 hours to allow lees to settle.

Pour off juice, either being careful not to disturb sediment or filtering through a coffee filter. Adjust the amount to about 750 ml. (3-3 1/4 cups). Place all spices except ginger in a mortar and grind coarsely; add to juice along with ginger. Return juice to refrigerator and let sit; taste just before bedtime and make any adjustments in spices you think necessary (remembering that spices will grow stronger); add sugar or honey if you want (not recommended); let sit at least overnight. At this point it’s ready to drink.

If you’ve made enough to can, strain juice through another coffee filter, a tea towel or similar cloth (remembering that the juice will stain), or a layer or two of good-quality paper towels to remove spices. Bring juice to a boil and pour into sterilized jars, leaving at least 1/4-inch headspace. Process in boiling water 5 minutes for quarts or smaller. If you can this in jelly jars, you have nice individual drinks that don’t have to be refrigerated, although you’ll want to pack a can opener in that lunch.

Adapted from: To the king’s taste / Lorna J. Sass, in an attempt to mimic the muste served at the Bors Hede.

Juicing and canning instructions from the National Center for Home Food Preservation

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*It is possible to use bottled grape juice for this recipe, but juice from concentrate is significantly sweeter than juice that has never been concentrated — so much so that I cannot recommend it. If you can find bottled juice that is a mix of from-concentrate and never-concentrated, you can try adjusting the sweetness by adding the acid blend used in winemaking (I have not had good results from trying this with juice that is all from concentrate, however).

**Try Buck’s or Penzey’s for the more unusual spices; grains of paradise can sometimes also be found among brewing and winemaking supplies.

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Quail Eggs à la Romoff

1 dozen quail eggs
12 slices salami, not too thick

Boil eggs 4 minutes; drain off hot water and cool eggs in cold water.

Formal presentation: Peel and rinse eggs, letting them dry briefly in a colander or on a towel. Wrap each egg in a slice of salami, securing with a toothpick.

Informal presentation: Eggs may be peeled and rinsed before serving or served in the shell and peeled just before eating. Wrap each egg in a slice of salami and eat.

From Amelia Romoff

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