Apples and Pumpkins
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Last Wednesday was North Carolina Crunch Day. Our local schools celebrated by serving apples to the students on their lunch trays. This event spotlights lots of good things: North Carolina agriculture, National Farm to School Month, North Carolina grown apples, and healthy eating. Our Brunswick County students joined schools and day care centers across the state in crunching apples that day. As part of National Farm to School month, the 4-H and Family and Consumer Science staff from our N.C. Cooperative Extension Service has been reaching out to kids in the schools to teach them how food is grown, what they can do with the food once it’s grown, and how it ends up on their plate.
While we don’t grow many apples here in Brunswick County, North Carolina ranks in the top 10 apple producing states. There are numerous orchards in the western part of the state growing over 40 varieties of apples. Thanks to the hard work of farmers, migrant farmworkers, and everyone who plays a role in getting the apples from the orchard to our homes. Look for NC Mountain apples at your grocery store or farmers market. Celebrate by taking a bite of an apple, be sure to listen for that NC Crunch.
Your kids may have come home from school talking about apples and an apple crisp recipe. This lesson is part of the fifth grade curriculum in our Expanded Food and Nutrition Program (EFNEP). It’s simple enough that children can prepare or help with many of the steps. It’s a great recipe to teach children how to measure dry ingredients.
Check out this video for more on this Apple Crisp Recipe:
- 4 cup sliced apples (about 4 medium apples)
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- ¾ cups rolled oats
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup whole-wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Non-stick spray
- Wash hands and cooking area before beginning to cook.
- Scrub apples with a clean brush and rinse under running water.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9” x 13” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Melt butter in a small bowl in the microwave (less than a minute, watch carefully, it will melt quickly)
- In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except the apples. Stir well until blended.
- Place apples in the baking dish and spread the oat mixture on top.
- Bake 45 minutes to one hour until apples are tender and topping has reached desired crispiness.
Tips for this recipe:
- Leave the skin in the apples for more fiber.
- Any apple will work for an apple crisp. If possible, head over to a local farmer’s market or produce stand and look for NC apples.
- If you don’t have whole wheat flour, regular all-purpose flour will work, but it lacks the whole grain nutrition.
- Either rolled oats or quick oats will work. Instant oatmeal will not work in this recipe.
Join us in celebrating this month by finding produce grown here in North Carolina or by visiting a local farm or a farmers market! Celebrate National Farm to School Month with apples grown here in our beautiful state.
Another North Carolina agricultural product that’s important this month is the pumpkin. In last week’s column I shared ideas and a recipe for using pie or cooking pumpkins, but what about those jack-o-lantern pumpkins when Halloween is over? Please don’t expect to do “double duty” by trying to eat the pumpkin after it was carved and sat on your porch for a couple of days. Not only could this be a food safety problem, most jack-o-lantern pumpkins are not good to eat. Pumpkins typically used for jack-o-lanterns usually are larger, with stringier pulp and more watery flesh than those used for cooking.
So what to do with that carved pumpkin? There are some options instead of the landfill. They can be used as livestock feed. Pumpkins don’t require any additional processing (smashing or cooking) for pigs. Chickens and other poultry really like to eat pumpkins, particularly those with cuts through the tough rind, like when making jack-o-lantern faces.
If you compost in your backyard, add your pumpkin. Remove candles, wax and any decorations. It helps if you smash or cut pumpkin into several pieces to speed decomposition. Then, cover with leaves. You’ll be helping to return these nutrients to the soil.
If you don’t have hogs or chickens to feed, or a backyard composting system, we have a free way you can participate in diverting your jack-o-lanterns and decorative pumpkins from the landfill. We’ll be collecting pumpkins next Monday and Tuesday November 1 and 2 from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the back gravel parking lot behind the Extension Office (near the greenhouse) at the Government Complex in Bolivia. Just stop by and drop them off and know that they will have a new purpose.
Cheryle Syracuse wrote this article and more similar ones for the Family and Consumer Sciences Column in the Brunswick Beacon. Syracuse is an FCS team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, 910.253.2610 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.