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Apples are one of the most popular fruits grown in the Western region of North Carolina, with over 200 commercial apple operations comprised of 9,000 bearing acres of apple orchards. If you aren’t fond of apples, chances are you haven’t discovered the right variety. apples in a treeA visit to a local orchard provides a fun activity for the entire family, plus many varieties offered are typically not found in grocery stores. Check out the NC Farm Fresh website to find apple orchards that are open for tours or other markets where you may discover a good variety of apples.

Aside from being delicious, recent research on apples confirms even more health-promoting benefits than previously thought. Many of the benefits are related to the numerous types of antioxidants found abundantly in apples. Antioxidants are chemicals that lessen or prevent the effects of free radicals, which cause cellular damage and contribute to a number of health problems. So, eating an apple a day does not guarantee the doctor will stay away but could lower your risk for developing diabetes, cancer, heart disease, asthma, and hypertension. The antioxidants may even help protect your brain, minimalizing decline in old age.

To get the most out of apples, keep the skin on. It contains half of the fiber content. The type of fiber helps lower cholesterol levels and feeds good bacteria in the gut. It also helps you feel full, which supports a healthy body weight. But don’t eat the apple seeds, as they contain cyanide, a powerful poison.

Apples are the original fast food, delicious eaten without any preparation other than washing. Cooked apples have traditionally been served with pork. This recipe is a new twist on an old classic. Tastes great with pork sausage, but substituting lean chicken sausage is another satisfying option.

Sausage and Apples

Serves 4

½ cup apple juice
¼ cup apple or hot pepper jelly
2 tablespoons Dijon or brown mustard
Vegetable oil
4 sausage links
1 medium onion, sliced
3 firm apples of choice, cored and sliced in wedges
1 teaspoon of dried or 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
Pinch of pepper


  1. In a small bowl, mix together apple juice, jelly, and mustard. Set aside.
  2. Coat a wide skillet lightly with oil. Brown sausage links on all sides over medium heat, turning often. Remove from pan and keep warm.
  3. Add onion slices to the skillet and stir often until starting to brown. Add more oil if needed. Add the apple wedges and stir until they start to brown. Stir in the juice mixture. Return the sausages back to the pan and stir. Top with basil. Cover the pan and simmer until apples are soft, stirring occasionally around 10 minutes.

This seasonal salad has a refreshing flavor.

Apple Carrot Salad

Serves 6

¼ cup fresh lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups grated apples
2 cups shredded carrots
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup raisins or dried cranberries


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the juices and honey.
  2. Add the grated apples and stir immediately to prevent browning.
  3. Toss in the remainder of the ingredients and serve.