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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Grandma Hoerner’s Apple Pouches

Grandma Hoerner’s is a company that makes Big Slice Apples, one of our favorite new snacks and toppings.

Big Slice Apples were first cooked in Grandma Hoerner’s farm kitchen in Kansas in the late 1800s, made from apples straight from the orchard.

Grandson, Duane McCoy, rcalling the wonderful big slices of cooked apples from his youth, could find no commercial product like it. In 1987, after experimenting to replicate her recipe, he was ready to bring them to the world.

Big Slice Juicy Cooked Apples may be the best apple “sauce” you can buy. Thick slices of kettle-cooked apples resting in an a sauce made from reduced apple juice.

It is the way it was originally made with big slices of fresh apples, slow cooked, with only natural ingredients added. These are chunky apples that can be eaten with a fork, although a spoon will do.

The Big Apple Slices are all natural, non-GMO, HFCS free and slow cooked, using domestic apples—just as Grandma Hoerner made them. They are both a luxurious dessert or topping and a healthful grab-and-go snack—a great source of vitamin C and naturally gluten free.

The product, originally (and still) sold in 19.5-ounce jars, is now available in grab-and-go pouches—lots of them—in 4.5-ounce portions, 80 to 90 calories depending on flavor, for $2.50. We found 16-packs on Amazon, but not on the Grandma Hoerner’s website.

Three flavor lines focus on flavor profiles:

  • Pure Line, simply flavored: Apricot, Blueberry Pomegranate, Chai, Cherry Vanilla, Natural, Orange Ginger
  • Fit Line, with added nutrition: Banana, Mango & Hemp Seed; Peach, Green Tea & Aloe; Honey Berry Chia; Pineapple, Passion Fruit & Fiber, Raspberry Hibiscus & Green Coffee Extract
  • Luxe Line, with indulgent additions: Boysenberry Chocolate, Caramel, Cinnamon Candy, Cinnamon French Toast, Peach Bellini
  •  
    The only challenge is where to begin. We received samples of each flavor, and can’t decide what to re-order. We may have to proceed alphabetically!
     
    HOW TO ENJOY GRANDMA HOERNER’S BIG SLICE APPLES

    For starters, here’s how we enjoyed the different Big Slice flavors:

  • Breakfast: with cottage cheese, French toast, omelets, porridge, toast, yogurt, pancakes, waffles
  • Lunch & Dinner: as a condiment or side with fried chicken, ham, pork, turkey
  • Dessert: crêpes, ice cream/sorbet, parfait, pound or angel cake, tartlet shells
  • Snack: straight from the pouch, on a rice cake
  •    

    Grandma Hoerner's Big Slice Apples

    Pancakes With Grandma Hoerner's Apples

    Big Slice On Yogurt

    [1] A great grab-and-go snack. [2] A topping for pancakes and other breakfast foods. [3] A yogurt mix-in or topping (photos courtesy Grandma Hoerner’s).

     

    Apple Tartlets

    [4] Time for dessert or company for tea? Fill tartlet shells for dessert (photo courtesy Grandma Hoerner’s).

     

    WHERE TO FIND BIG SLICE

    The pouches are available at Costco, H -E-B, Hy-Vee. Kowalski’s, Meijer, Price Chopper, Publix, Sprouts, Whole Foods Market, and more than 7,000 food stores nationwide. Here’s a store locator.

    You can buy them online at BigSliceApples.com and in multipacks at Amazon.com.

    A portion of the purchase to the A Sparkle Life, a non-profit organization aiding women in need.

     
    FOR MORE INFORMATION, head to BigSliceApples.com.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Stop Apples, Bananas & Pears From Browning

    Sliced Apple

    Sliced Banana

    Sliced Pears

    Sliced Red Grapefruit

    What do these fruits have in common? Once sliced, they begin to discolor quickly. [1] Sliced apples (photo courtesy US Apple Association). [2] Sliced banana (photo courtesy Baby-Recipes.com). [3] Sliced pears (photo courtesy USA Pears). [4] Squeezing citrus juice on cut fruit is just one of 6 techniques (photo courtesy Texasweet).

     

    Now that we’re into the cooler months and stone fruit and blueberry seasons are over, many people turn to apples, bananas and pears.

    You can eat them whole as hand fruit; or slice them to use them as garnishes, in fruit salads, etc. Or, you may be slicing them to prepare a pie or tart.

    But how do you stop them from turning brown?

    Browning of fruit is caused by the exposure of the flesh to oxygen. Enzymes in certain fruits react quickly with the oxygen in the air to oxidize, which turns the flesh brown. The discoloration doesn’t effect taste, but appearance.

    The solution is to limit that exposure.

    Anyone who has read a pie recipe knows to coat the cut surfaces with lemon juice, the strongest edible acid that can stop the enzyme reaction.

    This may be the best technique, but there are other techniques as well.

    1. FRUIT JUICE STOPS BROWNING

    Lemon juice is the standard in recipes and food articles, but other juices work, too. If you don’t have lemon juice, try:

  • Any other citrus juice—grapefruit, lime, orange, etc.—fresh squeezed, bottled or canned
  • Apple juice
  • Pineapple juice
  •  
    A half cup of juice will sufficiently cover two apples, bananas or pears. We brush the juice onto the sliced fruit with a pastry brush; a friend uses a small spray bottle (the travel-size used for cosmetics).

    You can also toss or immerse the fruit in the juice for a few minutes; but when they soak up the juice, they also soak up the flavor. If you don’t want tart flavor from lemon or lime juice, e.g., you can add some sugar.

    Once they’re coated in fruit juice, the slices will take much longer to turn brown. They will last without refrigeration in a plastic container for a few hours, but are best consumed the same day.
     
    In Fruit Salads

    The way to stop apples, bananas and pears in fruit salads from browning is to mix them with high-acid fruits: grapefruit, mandarins and oranges (the difference), pineapples, tangerines.

    Save the juices from slicing these fruits and add them to the bowl. They’ll stop the sensitive from browning.
     
    2. WRAPPING THE FRUIT

    Lay the cut fruit on a plate or tray. Cut a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper to cover, and press it over the top of the slices, creating a shield from the air. This works best when the slices are roughly the same size.
     
    3. VACUUM STORAGE

    If you have a vacuum storage system—whether a heat-sealing system like InLife or hard a vacuum pump like Food Saver, you can create an air-free storage bag.

    A hack is to put the slices in a storage bag and squeeze out the air. Refrigerate until ready to use. If you have a bit of lemon juice to sprinkle in, so much the better.
     
    4. WATER OR CLUB SODA/SELTZER

    As a last resort, use club soda, seltzer water, soda water (the differences), or just plain water.

     
    Flavored waters can even add a hint of extra flavor.

    Soak the slices in the water/club soda. They don’t add flavor, so you can keep them in a lidded container until ready to use.
     
    5. MAYONNAISE OR OTHER DRESSING

    Apples, bananas and other quick-to-brown fruits can also be coated with mayonnaise or salad dressing. These coatings block out the oxygen, which will also stop the browning process.

    If you’re making this type of recipe, you’re covered.

     
    6. DILUTED CITRIC ACID

    Citric acid is the chemical in citrus juices that keeps cut fruits from browning (and also makes the fruit taste sour).

    It is sold in a purified form as a canning additive, to keep the cut fruits in the cans or jars from discoloring. Check at a health food store or a hardware store.

    However, we mention this as an FYI. It’s easier for home kitchens to use any of the above.

    Powdered vitamin C, used as a cold-fighting supplement, is a similar option. Dissolve it in water according to the package directions, and soak the fruit. You can also grind up a vitamin C tablet.
     
    WHAT IF SLICED FRUIT HAS TURNED BROWN?

    Help is at hand: Immerse the discolored fruit slices in pineapple or grapefruit juice for 10-15 minutes.

    They won’t return to their pristine whiteness, but will lighten and look fresher.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Vertical Pear Salad

    Jessica, from The Novice Chef Blog, isn’t such a novice. She designed this elegant pear salad that is easy in its execution, yet dazzling on the table.

    You can vary the filling, the color of the pear, and/or the vinaigrette.

    If you prefer, you can make candied nuts instead of simply toasting them.

    For more vertical salads, see our vertical veggie ideas.
     
    RECIPE: VERTICAL PEAR SALAD

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 smooth skinned pears)
  • 2-3 cups watercress, arugula or baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup toasted almond, pecan or walnut halves (how to toast nuts)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (substitute blue or goat cheese)
  • Lemon juice
  • Vinaigrette dressing
  • Optional plate garnish: pomegranate arils
  •  
    For The Vinaigrette

     

    Pear & Blue Cheese

    So elegant, so easy: a vertical pear salad from The Novice Chef Blog.

     
    This salad begs for a sweeter vinaigrette. Use champagne, raspberry, sherry or white balsamic vinegars. Walnut oil is heavenly in this type of vinaigrette, but good olive oil is fine.

    Another option is to add a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup (a nice fall touch) to your usual vinaigrette.

    Whichever you choose, choose a ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.

    Here’s the best technique to make a vinaigrette that holds together without separating.
     
    Preparation

    1. SLICE the pears horizontally into 3 or 4 slices depending on the size. Leave the stem on the top piece.

    2. USE a paring knife to remove the cores, creating a “donut hole” in the middle. Brush the cut sides with lemon juice to keep them from browning. When you’re ready to serve…

    3. MOISTEN the watercress, pecans and blue cheese with the vinaigrette and toss to coat.

    4. ASSEMBLE the pears on individual plates, with the watercress salad in between each slice.

    5. DRIZZLE the vinaigrette on the plate around the pear, and serve.
     
     
    Thanks, Jessica: You rock!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Apples With Honey, Fruit Dip With Chutney

    For the Jewish New Year celebration, Rosh Hashanah—which begins Sunday at sunset—apple slices and honey represent wishes for a sweet new and fruitful year.

    This simple combination is so yummy, we wonder why it isn’t a regular snack for everybody.

    The recipe is simple:

  • Sliced apples
  • Small bowl of honey
  • Cocktail napkins to catch honey drips
  • Optional small plates
  •  
    You can make it into a bigger event with spiced tea like Constant Comment or chai; or mulled cider or mulled wine. If the day is warm: iced tea.

    Why apples?

    According to Reform Judiasm, neither the Bible nor the Talmud dictates the minhag, or custom, of dipping apples in honey. It has nothing to do with eating the apple in the Garden of Eden: The Bible never identifies the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:16–17).

    Over the millennia, scholars have variously interpreted the fruit as the apple, carob, citron, datura, fig, grape, pear, pomegranate and quince.

    However, the Midrash, a method of interpreting bible stories, says the Garden of Eden had the scent of an apple orchard. In Kabbalah the Garden Of Eden is called “the holy apple orchard.”
    More likely, apples were selected because in ancient times they became a symbol of the Jewish relationship to God. In just one source, the Zohar (a 13th-century Jewish mystical text), it states that beauty, represented by God, “diffuses itself in the world as an apple.”

    Why is the apple used in all the Garden of Eden paintings?

    It was chosen as the by Western European painters.

    Why honey?

    The customary New Year’s greeting, “Shana Tova Umetukah” (A Good and Sweet Year), has existed at least since the 7th century.

    Honey—whether from bees, dates or figs—was the most prevalent sweetener in the Jewish world. But in the biblical description of Israel as a land flowing with “milk and honey,” the Torah is alluding to a paste made from overripe dates, not honey from bees.

    Why join in on the custom?

    So go forth and acquire apples and honey, and serve this sweet treat at home: at breakfast, for snacking, or as dessert at lunch and dinner.

    Check out the different types of honey, and use the occasion for a tasting.

    Invite friends and family. You don’t have to come from a certain culture to enjoy their food—as most Americans are fortunate to know.

     
    RECIPE #1: CHUTNEY FRUIT DIP

    Not a fan of honey? You can make a fruit dip from chutney, jam or preserves (the differences) with plain yogurt, sour cream or yogurt, or a blend. Add a dab of mayo if you like. Stir in the fruit condiments to taste.

       

    Apples & Honey

    Apples & Honey

    Apples & Honey

    Honey: the original fruit dip? In biblical times, a paste of dates, also called honey, was used. [1] Photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF. [3] Photo courtesy Between The Bread | NYC. [3] An idea from Martha Stewart: hollow out an apple to hold the honey.

     
    You can use any flavor of fruit. This recipe, from B & R Farms (photo #4), uses their Dried Apricot Chutney. The cream cheese makes a thicker dip, and the following proportions make two cups, enough for a group.
     
    Ingredients

  • Fruits of choice: apples but also a mixed platter of bananas, grapes, kiwi, melons, peaches, strawberries, etc.
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces light sour cream
  • ½ cup chutney
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX all ingredients well and refrigerate in a covered dish. When ready to serve, wash and slice the fruit and place as desired on a platter.

    2. Stir the dip and place in a bowl. The dip keeps for a few days; stir well before each use.

     

    Apricot Chutney Dip

    Honey Glazed Apples

    [43] Fruit platter with apricot chutney dip from B&R Farms (use any chutney, jam or preserves). [5] Glazed honey apples from Taste Of Home.

     

    RECIPE #2: GLAZED HONEY-CINNAMON APPLES

    We adapted this recipe from Taste Of Home, substituting honey for table sugar (photo #5).

    Enjoy them plain, perhaps with a sprinkle of raisins or dried cranberries; or with a creamy topping.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 3 hours in a slow cooker. Alternatively, you can sauté the apples.
     
    Ingredients For 7 Servings

  • 6 large tart apples
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Optional garnish: dried cherries, cranberries, raisins
  • Topping: heavy cream, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL, core and cut each apple into eight wedges. Transfer to a 3-quart slow cooker. Drizzle with lemon juice.

    2. COMBINE the brown sugar, honey, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg; sprinkle over the apples. Drizzle with the melted butter.

    3. COVER and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until apples are tender.

     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SWEETENERS:
    SUGAR, MAPLE, SYRUPS & MORE

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Cooking With Grapes

    Roast Chicken With Grapes

    Asian Chicken Salad

    Red Flame Grapes

    [1] Roast chicken with grapes, recipe below (photos #1 and #3 courtesy Good Eggs). [2] Asian chicken salad with grapes, showing how a pop of color from red or purple grapes would have given the dish more eye appeal (photo courtesy California Table Grape Commission). [3]Use red grapes to add color, green grapes to pop in darker dishes, or a mix.

     

    Grape season is here! An easy and nutritious snack, grapes are also popular in fruit and salads.

    But how about savory dishes? Versatile grapes fit easily into everything from roast duck to risotto.

    In addition to snacking, cheese, and fruit kabobs, consider:

  • Adding to chicken (we love grapes and duck), pork, seafood (great with scallops!)
  • Crostini (try goat cheese, ricotta or a blue cheese spread* topped with grapes
  • Garnish, with just about anything
  • Grain salad, wild rice, risotto
  • Grape salsa
  • Green salad (a classic is endive, toasted walnuts and grapes in a sherry vinaigrette)
  • Omelets, especially cheese omelets
  • Sandwiches, sliced onto everything from grilled cheese to chicken salad to bagels and cream cheese

  • Pickled as a garnish, side or snack (here’s how to pickle)
  • Sides (see recipe below)
  • More ways to use grapes
  •  
    For Dessert

  • Grape sorbet or granita (add fresh basil, mint or rosemary)(recipe)
  • Grape tartlets (so easy!)
  •  
    For Cocktails

  • Frozen Grape Margarita (recipe)
     
    RECIPE #1: BAKED CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS WITH GRAPES & SHALLOTS

    This recipe is courtesy of Good Eggs, a premium grocer in San Francisco, which says:

    This is probably the easiest centerpiece-worthy dish you’ll ever make. Without any effort on your part, you’ll fry potatoes, make a sauce, and cook chicken—all in the same pan.
     
    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 4 chicken drumsticks (substitute thighs or other parts)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups kalamata olives
  • 2 cups loose red grapes
  • 4 shallots, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼” thick medallions
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Salt and pepper each side of the chicken and set aside.

    2. ADD 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to the bottom of a deep rectangular roasting dish; swirl it to lightly coat the bottom of the dish. Arrange the potatoes in a layer, slightly overlapping just the edges. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt.

    3. TOSS the grapes, olives, shallots and rosemary in a bowl with a few pinches of salt. Pour over the potatoes and spread the grapes into a single layer.

    4. PLACE the chicken on top of the grapes, leaving a few inches of space between each piece of chicken.

    5. BAKE for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring the grape mixture occasionally. If anything starts to brown too much, cover the dish with foil. The chicken is done when you insert a knife and the juices run clear. Eat immediately—although this one is great the next day for lunch too …
     
    ________________
    *We use a terrific, super-thick and chunky blue cheese dressing from Kathryn’s Cottage. You can use another blue cheese dressing and mix it with regular or whipped cream cheese for the desired consistency, or make your own from scratch.

     

    RECIPE #2: PAN SAUCE WITH GRAPES

    Use this sauce with braised, pan-fried or roasted chicken, duck, fish, pork or scallops. Just deglaze the pan and add the grapes.
     
    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (substitute basil, oregano, tarragon, thyme, sage, savory)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  •  
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the cooked protein and add the grapes, wine and rosemary to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, scraping the skillet to incorporate the fond (the browned bits that stick to the pan). Boil until syrupy, 3 to 4 minutes.

    2. ADD the chicken broth and any juices that have drained from the meat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about half, another 3 to 4 minutes.

    3. REDUCE the heat to low and add the butter; swirl it in the pan until melted. It’s ready to serve, over or under the meat.
     
    RECIPE #3: ROASTED GRAPES AS A SIDE & DESSERT

    This tasty dish can be a side or topping with roasted or grilled fish, meat and poultry. Also use roasted grapes in fruit salad, as a dessert topping, or as the dessert itself, topped with a dab of mascarpone.

    You can also make an easy grape tart or tartlets.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1 pound seedless red grapes, de-stemmed
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons rum†, regular or dark spiced
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • Optional: mascarpone
  •  

    Grilled With With Grapes

    Grapes & Thyme

    [4] Use roasted or pickled grapes as a garnish for fish (photo courtesy California Table Grape Commission). [5] It’s easy to roast grapes. Just try not to eat them all before serving time! Photo courtesy Alexandra Cooks; here’s how she uses them on crostini).

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 475°F a rack in the center of the oven and heat.

    2. TOSS the grape clusters with the honey, the olive oil, zest and salt. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and roast, turning halfway through, until they collapse and are somewhat caramelized, about 15 minutes.

    4. SERVE the roasted grapes warm for mains, warm or room temperature for desserts. , with a dollop of the sweetened mascarpone.
     
    ________________
    †You can use another spirit that complements the protein. For dessert, consider a complementary liqueur (orange, raspberry, etc.).

      

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