It’s apple season in Arkansas — one of my favorite times of the year. More than pumpkins, nothing says autumn to me more than apples. Seldom a day goes by that I don’t have an apple in one form or another. 

That old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” has some truth to it. Apples are high in pectin, which binds with water and limits the amount of fat your cells can absorb. They are also high in fiber, which makes you feel full. Need to lose a pound or two or three? Try eating an apple about a half hour before a meal. You’ll eat less, but still feel full. Some research indicates that apples have a positive effect on cholesterol, high blood pressure and pre-diabetes.; numerous studies have found that eating an apple a half hour to an hour before a meal has the result of cutting the calories of the meal. Recent research suggests that eating apples has other benefits, too. The antioxidants in apples appear to have a positive effect on high blood pressure, high cholesterol and pre-diabetes.


Arkansas Black apples

One of my favorite cooking apples is the Arkansas Black. Unfortunately, they are limited primarily to the northwest corner of the state where legend says it was first developed. It is thought to have originated in the mid to late 1800’s in Bentonville, possibly developed by a settler named John Crawford. Believed to be a seedling of Winesap, the apple has many qualities similar to its better-known parent. It has  a tart, tangy flavor and the ability to stay firm, crisp and flavorful after many months in storage. In fact, the apple reaches its peak in flavor and texture after a long period in cold storage. When first picked in October the apple can be as hard as a rock with a flavor to match. You’ll definitely be disappointed if you try to eat them right when they are first picked.  After an extended period of storage, the apple undergoes a dramatic change and becomes a delicious dessert apple. Its mellows significantly into a rich, pleasing sweetness. The hard, dense texture becomes softer and more tender while still retaining a pleasing crispness. 

Because they store well, I usually pick up a bushel or so and store them in my storage room in the basement garage. 

Arkansas Blacks are superior cooking apples as they retain their shape quite well. I find it best to combine them with a sweeter, juicier apple. They are not especially juicy so the addition of a Winesap, Porter or Gala will give you the moisture you desire. In addition, Blacks make an outstanding cider because of its sharp, tart flavor. The name is appropriate since the apples are so dark red they almost appear to be black.

Blacks make an excellent choice for this Apple, Bacon and Cheddar Galette I prepared for a sponsored post on PJEats, the recipe blog of Petit Jean Meats.

A galette (free form tart) is a pastry dough crust rolled out and instead of placing in a pie plate, it is transferred to a flat baking sheet. The center is filled or spread with a filling and the edges are folded around it. You can leave the edges in free form, crimp them or get fancy and cut them decoratively.

You’ve always known that apple pie and cheddar cheese pair nicely. Well, add to that some Petit Jean Hickory Smoked Bacon and you have heaven in every bite! If you can’t locate Arkansas Blacks, use another firm, sweet apple such as a Cortland, McIntosh or Braeburn.

For the recipe head on over to PJEats.

What’s your favorite cooking apple? I’d love to know how you use them.