Apples

With Apple Days happening all over the country, and the press claiming it to be the best apple year in decades, I thought I’d quickly post links to a few of my favourite apple related posts on Spade Fork Spoon. Without a doubt, apples are my favourite fruit, and there are no better apples than the plethora of apple varieties grown in the British Isles. I like to eat seasonally, so my first apple of the season is from our tree at the allotment (Beauty of Bath being one of the earliest of the earlies). That first bite into the crisp, slightly pink hued flesh, is a moment of delight, made more so by the long wait from the last of the stored British apples many months previous.

In a world where we are increasingly eating too much sugar in our diet, the apples natural sweetness can be our friend, adding a sugary hit to dishes without the need for additional refined sugars. Whether in salads, stews, cakes, breads, the apple is a cook’s friend.

Linked to the images below are some of my favourite apple related posts from the blog. Enjoy!

favourite fiveapples

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Favourite Five Apple Recipes

favourite five Apples, and specifically British apples, are my favourite fruit. I love the variety in flavours that apples bring, from sweet and juicy, to crisp and sharp. I think that there is no better apple than a British one, so always have a self-imposed break from apples once the supplies of home-grown fruit runs out. I don’t see the point in importing foods which we grow so well anyway. Seasonality also has the advantage of allowing my palate to enjoy the plethora of other fruits available, and truly appreciate the first apple of the year. We have a really early apple tree (Beauty of Bath), so the first apple of the season is always one of our own and munched during the summer holidays. But, whether Cox, Russet, Windsor, Bramley, or any other of the 1,900 different varieties of apple trees held at the National Fruit Collection in Kent, they are a super ingredient for either sweet or savoury dishes.

A Simple Apple Pie – There is no better dessert than an apple pie. I like to use a combination of stewed apple and slices of apple in my pies. By stewing some of the fruit first with a little sugar, you get a soft sweetness with the addition of fruit with a bit of a bite. The joy of a pie is its simplicity, its fruit and a pastry top. The top can be puff-pastry, shortcrust pastry, homemade, or (dare I say it?) shop bought. Top the fruit with the pastry, give it a wash with egg white and a sprinkle of sugar and bake til golden. Serve with cream, custard, ice cream, even mascarpone.

apple pie

Apple & Blackberry Jelly -This is inspired by The Pig in Brockenhurst, where my son enjoyed an apple jelly at the end of a delicious meal. Its a simple dessert; so evocative of childhood, but also the waning of the summer and the coming of autumn. Take some apple juice and heat it with a little sugar (depending on how sharp the juice is). I use leaf gelatin, which needs three sheets to soft set 500ml of liquid. Prepare the leaf gelatin by soaking it in cold water for a few minutes, squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and stir into the warm juice until completely dissolved. Pour into small glasses and drop a few blackberries into each glass. Place in the fridge for a few hours until set.

apple and blackberry jelly

Apple Cake – This a deliciously moist gluten-free cake, based on one in Nigella’s Feast. I use whichever apples I have in the house to make the puree and often make too much, in order to enjoy it with porridge in the morning. The cake itself is a simple process, blitzing together the puree and eggs, ground almonds, caster sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, before pouring into the cake tin.

Pork Chops with caramelised apples and sage crème fraiche – This is a great way to serve pork chops or steaks. Start by frying two quartered and cored apples in 20g melted butter and a small spoon of light brown sugar. Cook for 5 mins, until golden and tender. Remove from the pan and keep warm. Add a little oil to the pan and cook four pork steaks for 5-6 mins per side, until cooked through and golden. Stir in 100ml Crème fraiche and 15ml chopped sage. Serve the pork with the apples, mash and perhaps green beans.

Waldorf Salad – Combine 1sliced apple, a chopped stalk of celery, 50g of walnuts and a handful of rocket in a bowl. Mix a little lemon juice with 1/2 tsp. of grain mustard, then stir it into 100ml of mayonnaise. Toss the salad ingredients in the mayonnaise and serve.

What’s in your favourite five apple recipes?

Time to Prune

Last week I started the process of pruning our apples. We’ve got two established trees, which have been pruned on a fairly regular basis since we inherited the plot. The Beauty of Bath (a fabulous early variety with slightly pink flesh) has always responded well to a prune, but the other tree (an unknown hybridised variety) has generally been the ‘poor cousin’ and if I’m honest has been neglected over the years. So this year I’ve started with this tree; fuelled, if I’m truthful, by the fact that this year (for once) we had a decent crop of lovely sharp and refreshing fruit from it.

pruned apples
I’ve always been a bit hesitant about how and what when it comes to pruning, but found a six point guide to general winter pruning in a Garden Organic publication and have used it this year.

  • Prune out any dead, diseased or damaged wood back to a healthy bud or stem
  • Continue to keep the centre of the bush uncluttered – prune out any weak-growing, very upright or crossing shoots and branches
  • If some of the lead branches are weak growing they can be lightly trimmed back to stimulate more growth
    Remove any worn out and unproductive wood (generally more than three years old) by cutting back to a suitable replacement shoot
  • Remove any congested or overcrowded laterals or shorten to four to six buds to encourage fruiting spurs to develop. Retain about a third of the newly-formed laterals
  • If fruiting spurs become overcrowded, thin them out leaving one or two fruit buds per cluster

It’s a relatively simple process and rather satisfying once complete. Given the wind and rain of the last week or so, I’ve had to leave the second apple tree (and the other fruit trees on the plot) until I can get up the tree without being blown out! Mind you, nature has done a bit of the pruning of dead and weak branches for me.