Gala apples: How to choose, store and prepare

(Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times)

What? Apples? Already? Can summer really have flown by that fast? Gala apples are early ripening crosses between the old favorites Cox Orange Pippin and Golden Delicious. They were developed in New Zealand and introduced to the U.S. in the mid-'60s. Galas are usually the first apple to be harvested and, it must be said, they really are at their best – crispy, juicy and spicy – for only a month or so. They don’t hold as well in storage as some other apples. You’re better off eating Galas now, even if it does seem weird eating apples in what feels like the middle of summer.

How to choose: Select apples that are smooth-skinned, deeply colored and glossy. When ripe, Galas will be golden yellow with slight pinkish orange stripes.

How to store: Galas, like all other apples, should be stored as cold as possible. Keep them in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator. A perforated plastic bag works best, as it allows some of the moisture to escape while keeping the apples crisp.

How to prepare: Galas have a wonderfully buttery flavor and make a great sauce. Peel and core the apple and then chop it coarsely. Cook it in a saucepan with a little sugar and just enough water to film the bottom of the pan (the water will help the apple break down quicker, keeping a fresher flavor). Cover with a lid and cook over medium heat until the apple starts to soften. Reduce the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the apples are tender enough to crush easily, 15 to 20 minutes in all.