Apples fall on Queen City

Now that the leaves are starting to change, and the air is becoming cooler, the height of apple-picking season is finally upon us. Starting in late August and running until the end of October, apple picking is a way to spend time outdoors with friends and support the local food economy. Shelburne Orchards, located off of Route 7, just past the Shelburne Museum, grows 36 varieties of apples during their season, said Tina Freeman, a worker at the orchards. Currently, they are offering Macintosh, Mutzu, Empire and Liberty apples. “Picking apples at an orchard helps people understand the seasons and how food grows,” Freeman said. Picking local apples also offers more variety of apples to try. There are approximately 3,000 apple varieties worldwide, however, there are typically only five varieties offered at grocery stores, Freeman said. In addition to pick-your-own apples, Shelburne Orchards also sells their three year barreled cider vinegar, gingerjack — a drink made from fresh ginger root steeped in apple cider — frozen apple pies and cider donuts. Local apples are also available for sale in downtown Burlington at City Market. For those not able to drive to an orchard to pick their own, City Market carries around 20 varieties of apples from local Vermont farms. Mary Manghis, the produce buyer for City Market, said she buys from Shelburne Orchards, Champlain Orchards and Scott’s Farm, all long-term orchards. The apples are delivered either once or twice a week, so they are fresher than apples shipped in from different states or countries, Manghis said. City Market does not carry conventional apples from out of state, simply because there is no need to, Manghis said. Whether or not the apple comes straight from the farm or a store, there is no denying their health benefits. Apples are a great source of antioxidents, Vitamin C and dietary fiber. They are also good for your heart and can help prevent certain kinds of cancers, said Mingruo Guo, professor of nutrition and food science. There is some loss of nutrients that occurs over time, so the fresher the apple, the more you gain from the apple, Guo said. “They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away — this is probably true,” Guo said.