APPLE FACTS

* The average American consumes 48 pounds of apples and apple products a year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It breaks down roughly like this: 20 pounds fresh; 20 pounds in juice; 6 pounds canned (including apple sauce, apple slices); 1 pound frozen; 1 pound dried.

* The USDA forecasts the 1994-95 apple crop will set a record at 10.8 billion pounds. (The 1993-94 crop was 10.7 billion.)

* Top apple-producing states include: Washington, Michigan, California, New York, and Pennsylvania, according to USDA.

* A thousand varieties of apples were sold in America's markets at the turn of the century, says Roger Yepsen, author of the book ``Apples'' (Norton, 255 pp., $17.95). While hundreds of varieties are available today, Americans sample an average of just six during a lifetime.

The Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture offers these tips:

* Store small quantities of apples in a refrigerator in a plastic bag that has a few perforated holes. Store large quantities in a cool, dark, airy place.

* To freeze: Wash, core, pare. Slice directly into cold salted water (2 tablespoons salt to 1 gallon of water). Drain. Scald 2 to 3 minutes in boiling water. Cool 2 to 3 minutes in ice cold water. Drain.

* To serve raw: Wash well. If cut apples are to be consumed at a later time, sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent darkening.

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