AMHERST, Mass. -- The New England MacIntosh Growers Association here has created a consumer education brochure to help answer frequently asked questions regarding New England grown apples.
The eight panel, four-color brochure, called "Taste New England Apples," provides consumers with storage and handling tips as well as sample pictures, variety descriptions and cooking ideas.
The brochure is currently being made available through local retail produce departments, including those in Big Y Foods, Springfield, Mass., and Roche Bros. Supermarkets, Wellesley Hills, Mass. In addition, consumers can receive a brochure sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to the NEMGA.
The brochure itself begins with a promotional brief that explains the popularity surrounding New England apples, as well as the many varieties derived from the area.
Following in the next series of panels are descriptions of the six most popular apple varieties: MacIntosh, Macoun, Cortland, Empire, Rome and New England Red Delicious. Each of the apples is pictured along with a details about their appearance and flavor, use, history and ripening period.
For example, the MacIntosh apple, an early September variety, is described as a two-toned red and green skinned apple, good for every-day use and discovered in 1870. Today it accounts for nearly two-thirds of the five million bushels of apples harvested in New England.
The Empire apple, which is described as having a "deep red skin brushed with gold and green," is described as a high-quality dessert apple that is good for all culinary uses. It's a newer variety introduced in 1966 and ripens in late September.
On the back of the brochure are additional descriptions of some of the other 40 varieties of apples that are grown in New England. Some examples include the Baldwin, Jersey Mac and Northern Spy. Each of the apples is described by date of origin and color.
Also provided on the back of the brochure is a message to consumers emphasizing the nutritional value of apples. It reminds consumers that apples are fat-free, cholesterol-free, sodium-free and a good source of dietary fiber.
In addition, instructions are provided to teach consumers how to properly handle apples in order to extend storage life. Noted is the fact that if apples are handled properly, they can have a storage life of more than 90 days.
To extend storage life, customers are informed to choose apples that are bruise-free and firm, because bruised apples tend to decay quickly. Customers are also encouraged to handle the apples gently in order to prevent skin damage and to store them in the refrigerator because they last ten times longer than if stored at room temperature. Other tips include keeping apples away from foods with strong odors, such as onions or garlic, because of their absorbancy.
The final section of the brochure provides recipe ideas that include apples, such as apple and beet salad; apple, carrot and onion slaw; and apple cake. Each recipe tells consumers which apple varieties to purchase, as well as the amount needed and how best to prepare them.