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Last spring plentiful white blossoms buzzed with bees. Now they are apples. I watched them ripen. I shooed away the deer and birds, but it wasn’t until 19 degrees was expected that I took action.

I picked apples. Lots of apples.

Our apple tree hit on all cylinders this year. The Haralson apple tree is a biennial fruit bearer, which yields a heavy crop one year and a lighter crop the next. This was year heavy. Now I’m in the kitchen figuring out what to do with them. If your counters are filled with apples, store them in the fridge while you’re contemplating your next move. Apples last ten times longer in the refrigerator than at room temperature.

I turned to the Instant Pot to make one our family favorites, apple butter. My grandma used to cook apple butter in a copper kettle with a penny added to keep the fruit from sticking to the pot as she stirred and stirred, concentrating the apples.

I tweaked the recipe to increase the healthy factor. Because an unpeeled apple gives you fifty percent more phytonutrients than a peeled one, I left the peel on. This recipe is sugar free because I wanted the apple flavor to shine. If the apples you use are tart, up to ½-cup honey, maple syrup or brown or white sugar may be added.

It used to be a seasonal pie. Now pumpkin is everywhere. Pumpkin is good for your digestion, skin, eyes and blood pressure. Beta carotene is responsible for the orange color and pumpkin is one of the richest sources of this powerful cell protector. So I added a can of pumpkin puree to the now apple pumpkin butter.

With more than 7,500 varieties of apples, there is an apple for every occasion. Generally, sweet apples are best for eating raw and tart apples are ideal for baking and cooking. Here’s a brief apple primer:

Best for applesauce and apple butter: McIntosh, Golden Delicious

Best for pies: Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Pink Lady, Golden Delicious

Baked apples: Rome, Gala, Winesap

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can cook this in a slow cooker, over low heat 4-6 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking, no penny required.

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Judy Barbe is a registered dietitian, speaker and author of “Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest: Simple Solutions for Fresh Food & Well-Being.”

Visit her website www.LiveBest.info for every day food solutions.

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