Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Apple Judging Contest and so much more

Fall is fast approaching and orchards are displaying the fruits of their labor.

Scarecrows, corn mazes, colored leaves, pumpkins and apples are the symbols of the season.

For the next several weeks we will explore a variety of seasonal activities

for you and your family to enjoy.

Today, we will start off with an apple judging contest.

Visit your local grocery store's produce department, farmer's market or orchard and pick up at least two each, of several different types of apples. Try to get at least four to six different types of apples i.e. Jonathan, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, McIntosh, etc.

Make the shopping and selection of apples part of the experience.

        -How many different varieties of apples are there to choose from?

        -How are they different and alike?
       -How many colors can you find?

       - What are the different types of apples used for?

Bonus activity: Count your apples as you shop. For additional fun you can even do some math problems as you go along.

          -If we buy 12 apples and there are 4 family members, how many apples does
            each person get to eat, if we divide them equally?

         -If we have 4 different kinds of apples and we buy 4 of each kind, how many
          apples will we buy?

         -If the apples are 49 cents apiece, how much will our apples cost?

Design your math problems to be developmentally appropriate for your child. These activities can range from one to one correspondence with counting for the younger child, up to complex problems for the older child.

On the day of the contest, line all the apples up on a table or counter. Your contest can be the same day as your shopping trip, or on a different day, depending on your schedule.

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Display your pairs of apples, giving each variety its own plate. Cut one of the apples into slices and set it next to a whole apple of the same variety.

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First decide on the criteria used to judge your apples. You can have serious and/or fun categories. Here are some ideas to get you started:

                *Serious: color, smell, texture/ crispness, flavor, juiciness, etc.

                *Silly: heart shaped, biggest, most round, funny shape, most variety in colors, shiniest, etc.

If you want to go a step farther, older children can make out judging contest forms so each judge can write down their own observations and rating system. Develop prize categories and make ribbons. Let them go with their imaginations. What else can they come up with?

Younger children can observe, discuss and, of course, taste! This is a great activity that is not only fun and nutritious, it also teaches observation and tasting skills, skills in comparing and contrasting, and encourages discussion and possibly debate. Your favorite apple may be the Red Delicious and your child's may be Gala.  Be able to defend your preference using a variety of adjectives.

Let the judging begin! Don't forget the caramel sauce to finish off the leftovers after the judging!

Too many apples to finish eating after the contest?  Don't let the fun stop!
                     Remember a cut apple turns brown when it is exposed to the air.
                     Dipping cut apples in orange juice (or any citrus juice) or a lemon-lime soda;
                     or sprinkling with ascorbic acid used in canning/freezing will help prevent browning.

Here are a few ideas to do with your leftover apples after the judging contest:

· Stuffed apples
1.  Wash the apple. 
2. With a sharp paring knife, cut the top off horizontally (so that it makes a lid). Hollow out the apple, and keep all pieces that do not have core or seeds.
3.  Chop all of the usable apple pieces from what you have hollowed out of the apple. Put them into a small bowl.
4.   Mix in desired ingredients.
     Ideas for mixtures 

   * peanut butter, honey, and raisins together.
   * peanut butter, sunflower seeds, raisins, cinnamon
   * for a unique entree, fill your apple with chicken salad or an avocado salsa.
4).  Stuff your hollowed apple with the filling mixture, packing in your mixture tightly to cover all surfaces.  Cover your apple with the "lid".

OR you can just CORE your apple and then
stuff the middle with your mixture.
peanut butter, sesame seed, and orange juice stuffed apple snack
With a sharp paring knife, cut the top off horizontally (so that it makes a lid).  Hollow out the apple, and keep all pieces that do not have core or seeds.
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What other ingredients may taste good in your apple?  Experiment to find your favorite.

Want to make your apple hot?
      Mix brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, chopped walnuts and raisins together. Stuff your cored apple and set it in a baking dish. Bake in a moderate (350 degree Fahrenheit) oven until the apple flesh is soft and the stuffing has melted. You may want to baste your apple a few times during the cooking process to allow the juices to totally sink into your apple. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. What a delicious treat, and your kitchen will smell good too!

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  • Home Made Applesauce - quick and easy for one meal's serving

Peel, core and slice an apple for each person that will be at the meal. Place prepared apples in a sauce pan and add enough apple juice to just barely cover the apples.

Add cinnamon, cloves and allspice to taste. (Cinnamon ratio should be twice as much as cloves and allspice)

Heat until tender.

Mash to desired consistency. Serve hot or cold.

For an extra flare, add cinnamon red hots while cooking the apple mixture. Cook red hots until melted, mixing with your apple mixture. This cinnamon applesauce is a special treat and is a favorite with the kids.

In the days ahead you can add to your apple theme with lots of correlation activities.  Keep in mind, to maximize your child's learning,  it is always best to start with the REAL thing and then branch out into the abstract.

Here are some ideas:
-visit an apple orchard and pick apples off of the tree

-counting apples

-slice an apple in half and count the seeds

-use half an apple to paint stamp pictures

-draw apples

-create a story about apples, apple seeds, apple trees, etc.

-read the story of Johnny Appleseed

-read stories about apples
- etc.  What else can you think of to do?

Inspired by the book

Miraculous, Magical Moments in Minutes:

Over 500 Quick, Easy Activities for Adults and Children to Share

by Becky Baxa

Available from




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