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Byline: Karen Herzog
Sep. 19--It's a good time to be an apple lover, and there's no better time to get them fresh, now that apple-picking season is in full swing.
Apples get lots of positive press, deservedly so, for being healthful. They enjoy year-round popularity. And they're showcased in more sophisticated recipes than ever before.
"You're seeing fruits all around being used in more sauces, compotes and relishes with grilled meat and side dishes," said personal chef Sandi Hillmer of Oak Creek, who also teaches cooking classes in her home through The Healthy Gourmet School of Cooking.
"People are becoming more open-minded about where apples can be used beyond pies and crisps," she said.
The juicy Jonagold, a blend of Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples with a honey-tart flavor and firm, crisp texture, is Hillmer's favorite baking apple.
"It's an apple you can do just about anything with," she said.
She's also a fan of the Braeburn, another crisp, juicy baking apple, but with a spicy-sweet flavor.
To avoid worries about pesticide residue, Hillmer buys organic apples. Of the nearly 100 apple varieties grown commercially in the United States, 15 account for almost 90% of the 2006 production, according to the U.S. Apple Commission.
The top five apples produced last year, in order: Red Delicious, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Fuji.
Up-and-coming apples, according to the commission, include Braeburn, Cameo, Ginger Gold, Honeycrisp and Pink Lady.
The trendiest apple continues to be the Honeycrisp, said Dennis Scheid, manager of Brennan's Country Farm Market in Brookfield, which carries about a dozen apple varieties at peak season, mid-October.
"It's the apple everyone is asking for," said Scheid.
Once the Honeycrisp's short season ends, apple lovers turn their affection to …