BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. - Low-calorie apples are a dieter's dream-a medium apple has only about 80 calories. While they aren't bursting with vitamins and minerals like some fruits, apples are loaded with pectin, a cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. "Apples also contain antioxidant properties, which may be their secret weapon against disease," said a University of Missouri Extension nutrition and health education specialist.

High-quality apples are smooth-skinned, crisp, juicy and properly colored for their variety, said Susan Mills-Gray. Varieties of apples that are not solid red should have a yellow-green undertone, often called ground color. A ground color that is too green indicates a less sweet or underripe apple. Ground color that is too yellow identifies an apple that is overripe, soft and mealy.

Handle apples gently to avoid bruising them. Apples will remain crisp and juicy 10 times longer if stored in the refrigerator. Keep apples in plastic bags with small air holes to maintain moisture and delay withering.

"To get the most nutritional benefit, don't peel your apples," Mills-Gray said.

"Most people choose apples based on what they like to eat fresh, but different varieties serve different purposes," she said.

Mills-Gray offers these suggestions as a guide to selecting apples for particular uses:

  • Best varieties for fresh eating: Choose just about any variety you like.
  • Best varieties for sauce, pies and baking: Arkansas Black, Cortland, Empire, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Liberty, Lodi, Mutsu (also known as Crispin), Northern Spy, Ozark Gold, Rome Beauty, Spartan, Winesap and York.
  • Best varieties for salads (these resist browning when cut): Cortland, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Mutsu.
  • Best varieties for freezing: Empire, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Liberty, Mutsu and Spartan.

An MU Extension guide, "Apple Cultivars and Their Uses" (G6022), is available online at This user-friendly guide provides tips on selecting, growing and harvesting apples.

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