From Branch to Bowl: What you need to know about Apples

Going behind-the-scenes into apples | What you need to know before you go grocery shopping | From Branch to Bowl

Apples are a nutritious, delicious and CRUNCHY fruit. Join me as I take you behind-the-scenes to the apple orchards of Ontario. Here I share with you tips for shopping and cooking with apples, simple steps to make apple sauce and an apple hack that you wouldn’t believe. All that you need to know about this everyday, ordinary, FABULOUS fruit, right here!

DISCLAIMER: Recently I partnered with Ontario Apple Growers to participate in their Pen Pal programme. These are my honest findings.

Childhood in India

I grew up in India. As a child, after school, I would often accompany my mom on her daily trips to the market. One of her (and my) favourite excursions was to the fruit market. This was a temporary area marked off on certain days of the week for a farmer’s market that was filled with carts, kiosks and a whole lot of people. At that time I didn’t know enough about what to look out for in produce. I left that to my mom. But what I loved about our time together was wandering the lanes, the bargaining banter back and forth, and of course the noisy, colourful mood of the shops. Nighttime markets brought even more charm and ambience with lanterns, bonfires and more chatting.

30 years ago, these fruit markets or mandi as they were called in India were ubiquitous in small towns around the country. At that time I took it for granted that the shopkeeper was also the farmer; someone who had hitched a ride to these markets to sell what they had grown. This was quite common in close-knit communities. There was no middle man between those who grew food and those who ate it.

Today life couldn’t be more different, right? In India and in Canada.

From Branch to Bowl | Cooking with apples |
Apple Orchard in Ontario

Science and Farming

As a part of the Ontario Apple Growers’ Pen Pal programme, I partnered with Leslie Balsillie of The Fruit Wagon, Canada’s southern-most orchard. She and her husband Doug run the farm and orchard. Like many farmers, they grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. While apples are their main focus, they also grow peaches, beans, beets, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, various greens, sweet peppers, tomatoes, squash and zucchini. During the summer and early fall months, they run a roadside fruit wagon where people can stop by and pick up local, sustainably grown produce from their farm. Almost like the India fruit markets from 30 years ago. I was amazed at how connected Leslie and Doug are with technology and innovation, and how they use science to grow their crops.

In fact, their orchard is one of Canada’s 10 test sites where new varieties of apples are tested before being rolled out to orchards around the country.

There is so much to learn about the work that goes into growing, harvesting, distributing apples, and I have barely scratched the surface.

Did you know apple season in Ontario is in the fall but you can find local apples in grocery stores all year round?

Watch the “Storing Apples” video below for how

Pick Your Own Apples - A Wonderful Family Tradition
Pick-your-Own Apples – a wonderful family tradition

We know little about where our food comes from and the enormous effort that goes into getting it to our table. Here are a series of videos that help us all along — from Branch to Bowl.

Cooking with Apples

Storing Apples

Why apples make a great COVID-time snack. Tips to store apples along with the BEST APPLE HACK to prevent browning.

One last thing: Consumers (people like you and me) often buy unblemished, perfectly shaped apples. That means the imperfect, sometimes odd, and wonky-looking fruits and veggies are discarded. That is an enormous waste of food and also the resources invested into growing that food. In addition, food waste is one of the biggest causes of climate change. We can remedy that by buying more of the odd-looking, freckled apples. It’s as simple as that. These taste great, have the same nutrition content and are often priced lower by retailers. Win, Win, Win!

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About Puneeta

Author, Educator, Speaker

Puneeta is a writer, food advocate and guide for those who seek earth-friendly, delicious solutions that work for real life.

Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma, Food Writer, Climate Advocate, New cookbook - Good Food, Healthy Planet - out April 2024
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma
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