15 Cool Uses for Apples
Besides being a tasty treat either eaten right off the tree or used in any of a thousand sweet and savory recipes, the apple can be a handy aid in other ways. Check out these 15 different ways you can use an apple.
In the Kitchen
You may love apple pie, but even a single (and somewhat shriveled) apple can make a difference in the kitchen.
- As a ripening agent - Apples produce a lot of ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening process in fruits and vegetables. Adding an apple to a bag containing an unripe avocado, for instance, will turn it from rock hard to perfectly ripe in a couple of days.
- As an aromatic - Aromatics are used in cooking to add a succulent smell to foods. Inserting a sliced apple into the cavity of a chicken before roasting will give it a more complex and appealing aroma at mealtime.
- As a mini humidifier - When you want to keep cookies, cakes, breads and other items moist in their tins or wrappers, a couple of slices of apple will replace valuable moisture lost through evaporation. This will also work with sugar (particularly brown sugar) and salt.
- As a sponge - You can't use an apple as a sponge to clean your countertops, but it's effective at soaking up salt from liquid. If your homemade soup turns out a little salty, float a few slices of apple in it. They'll remove some of the excess salt and save the meal.
In the Medicine Cabinet
Like most fruits and vegetables, apples are a cornucopia of helpful chemical compounds. Although research is ongoing into the health benefits of apples, here are some areas to watch:
- Weight loss - A number of recent studies, including one conducted in Brazil (at the State University of Rio de Janeiro), have found that eating apples helps take off the pounds. Some experts believe that the fiber (pectin) in apples is responsible for the weight loss benefits.
- Heart health - An impressive body of evidence suggests that eating apples can reduce your risk of heart and cardiovascular disease. Although the mechanisms at work aren't fully understood, apples do contain antioxidant compounds that lower cholesterol and prevent inflammation.
- Migraine - The science isn't completely understood, but migraine sufferers who inhale the aroma of fresh-cut green apple sometimes experience a reduction in the severity and duration of their symptoms.
- Dementia - The decline associated with Alzheimer's disease has been linked, in part, to inflammation. The antioxidants in apples control (or constrain) inflammation and may help slow cognitive decline.
- Asthma - Quercetin, an antioxidant found in apples, has shown promise in reducing the amount of histamine released by the body during an asthma attack.
For Personal and Household Care
- Dandruff treatment - Rinse your hair with unsweetened apple juice to control dandruff.
- Tooth care - That crunchy, juicy fresh apple is more than a sweet afternoon snack. It scrapes bacteria from your teeth and gums as you chew. Chemical compounds in apples may even help whiten your teeth -- a little, anyway.
- Moisturizing - Add two tablespoons of honey to a cup of apple juice and slather it on your face. Leave it in place for 10 minutes and rinse. It will leave your skin hydrated and kissably soft.
- Exercise - You may not enjoy the time you spend exercising, but eating an apple could reduce the discomfort of your workout and give you a few more useful minutes sweating to the oldies before you start feeling the burn. Chemical endurance extenders like the quercetin in apples help deliver extra oxygen to the lungs.
- Homemade potpourri - Slice apples and dry them in a warm (not hot) oven. Add a few drops of cinnamon scented oil and you have a simple potpourri that will make your home smell fresh and welcoming.
- Aluminum cleanser - Polish the discolored interior or an aluminum pot by filling it with water and one apple peel. Set the pot to simmer for about a half-hour.