The appeal of apples
Before I wrote this short blog on apples I thought I would do a little research, so I typed apples into a popular online encyclopedia. First line, “An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree”. I thought I would share in case it was not clear. To be fair the piece went on with a lot of interesting aspects about history and culture.
One of the most common fruit trees in UK gardens is coming into its fruiting splendor. Sadly, much of this wonderful fruit will end up rotting or chucked into the compost. This is such a shame, because eating what is literally on our doorsteps is not only environmentally friendly and nutritionally valuable, but also delicious and of course free. Not bad for something often taken for granted.
If you have a little space in your garden and want to enjoy seasonal produce with very little effort, planting an apple tree could be something to consider. Not only will you get to enjoy the wonderful blossom in the springtime, and add a touch of colour to your garden each year, but you will also be improving the environment. Without stating the obvious, trees provide essential benefits to wildlife, and of course humans. If you don’t have much space, many dwarf varieties will happily grow in a large container. Alternatively, perhaps buy a tree for a friend with a big hint to share the fruit!
As the season progresses the blossom will come and go, little apples will appear, and in the fullness of time your fruit crop will start to come. If it’s a new tree, this may be small, but in subsequent years as it grows, so will your crop.
Too many apples? No such thing. Almost. The number of ways to enjoy your fruit is almost endless. So briefly... deep breath... pie (yes I know, the obvious go-to), or even a crumble. But, when was the last time that you made one? For the pie, ready-made pastry makes the job even easier.
Strudel: again an easy and rewarding option, made even easier with shop bought filo pastry.
What about giving a Tarte Tatin a go? It’s an upside down pie to be honest, but quite delicious.
Apple added to a sponge cake mixture works well, too. Stewed with a few sultanas and spice, it is a welcome addition to a pancake or simply served with custard.
Perhaps Apple Charlotte? I’m a child of the 1960s so fruit salad still has a soft spot in my heart.
Fancy something savoury? Apples again lend themselves well to salads, whether a simple side salad or pasta, or even more adventurous: Thai with tofu, garlic and sweet chilli sauce.
Perhaps curry is your thing? Again, a common ingredient in many sauces. Years ago I used to make a veggie sausage casserole which, no surprises, had a couple of apples in. This was a camping classic. Onions, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, celery, herbs, spices, mustard and apples cooked together. Sausages cooked separately then added when the veg are cooked and served straight away. Pure comfort food.
Still got a few apples to use up? What about having a go at some chutney? Basic ingredients; sugar, spices, sultanas, vinegar, and yes, apples. It really is quite simple to create a delicious, homemade chutney that will last for years with a little care given sterilising jars. Don’t be put off by the smell when cooking your chutney. Boiling vinegar is not that nice, but the end result will be worth it. Always label the jars with the date made.
When considering storing your apples, presuming that you have a bumper crop, your freezer should be put to best use. Simply cook your surplus apples, puree and freeze. I wouldn’t add sugar at this point because you may want to use them in a variety of ways. You can always add sugar later. It is important to label your frozen goodies with at least the date and 'apple puree'. This will save playing frozen food roulette down the line!
Finally, if you don’t think you will be able to eat them all, try pickling or juicing. Talking to my fellow chefs, we all gave mixed reviews on juicing machines because of the cleaning aspect. But, I guess if you did a large batch this would make it easier. Or you can share them with your friends and neighbours. Give them away while in perfect condition rather than waiting until they are just past their best.
So, before your lovely apples fall to the floor, which inevitably they will, pick one or two and rekindle your love of what is one of the nation’s favourite fruits.
For a few apple recipes click on the link below and type apples into the search box.
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