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GALA APPLES — This crisp, aromatically-sweet apple features pink-orange stripes atop a pretty yellow background. Delicious in salads, pies and sauces, the Gala originated in New Zealand, a cross of Kidd’s Orange and Golden Delicious apples. It is very good for baking, but not suggested for freezing. The flavor of pears, winter squash, onions, pecans, turkey, curry, brie, cheddar and Swiss cheese complement Gala apples.

They are a great snacking fruit as they are low in calories, high in water content, and offer a fair amount of vitamins A, C, and B. Galas also contain a dietary fiber known as pectin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and help prevent heart attacks. They also contain trace amounts of boron, which has been touted for its ability to help build strong bones.

Storage: Store in a cool, dry place or refrigerate. Apples may seem crisper when they are chilled. Tip: Do NOT store near carrots! The ethylene gas apples release can turn carrots bitter. 

FYI: APPLES ARE NATURE’S TOOTHBRUSH!

Eating an apple doesn’t actually cleanse your teeth, but biting and chewing one stimulates your gums, and the sweetness increases the flow of saliva. This reduces tooth decay and lowers the level of bacteria in your mouth.

Bleu Cheese Spread with Gala Appetizer –   1 Large Gala apple, quartered, cored, cut into thin slices, 1/2 C. Bleu cheese crumbles, 1/3 C. Cream cheese, softened, 2 T. Apple cider, apple brandy, apple liqueur or sweet wine, 16 Walnut halves, Dried cranberries or blueberries, 4 Slices of thin rye or barley bread, or favorite crackers, Mint leaves for garnish, if desired.

In a bowl, mix the cheeses and liquid until smooth. Add more liquid to get desired consistency if needed. Refrigerate. In a small pan, toast the nuts for 1 minute. Spread cheese mixture on crackers or lightly toasted bread (cut to bite-sized pieces).   Top with walnuts, berries and apple slices. Garnish with mint if desired. Serve immediately.

BARTLETT PEARS — The Bartlett Pear, as it is known in North America, is the same variety that is called the “Williams” in many other parts of the world. First discovered in 1765 by an English schoolmaster, this variety was made popular in England by a nurseryman named Williams, and became known as the Williams Pear. Around 1799, several Williams trees were exported to the U.S. and were planted on a Massachusetts estate orchard. Later, Enoch Bartlett acquired the orchard. Not knowing the identity of the trees, Bartlett introduced the variety to the U.S. under his own name. It was later discovered that both varieties are the same.

With that quintessential “pear flavor,” Bartletts are found in most local markets. The earliest choice available for pear lovers, (harvested in late August to early September, available through December or January), they are great for canning, eating out of hand, or in dishes including appetizers, salads and desserts.

Ripening & Storage: Uniquely, the Bartlett’s skin brightens as it ripens. Ripen at room temperature to a yellow-green for mild sweetness, or to bright yellow for super sweetness and juiciness. Refrigerate to slow ripening.

Crunchy Pear & Celery Salad – 4 stalks celery, cut in half crosswise, 2 T. cider, pear, raspberry or other fruit vinegar, 2 T. honey, 1/4 t. salt, 2 ripe Bartlett pears, diced,1 c. diced white cheddar cheese, 1/2 c. chopped pecans, toasted, Freshly ground black pepper, to taste, 6 large lettuce leaves.

Soak celery in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes, drain and pat dry. Cut into 1/2″ pieces. Whisk vinegar, honey and salt in a large bowl until blended. Add pears; gently stir to coat. Add the celery, cheese and pecans; stir to combine. Season with pepper.

Divide the lettuce leaves among 6 plates and top with a portion of salad. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Stir in pecans just before serving.

How to Toast the Perfect Pecan: Cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 2 to 4 minutes. They are toasted to perfection when the nuts are fragrant and lightly browned.

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Tracie Burket
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