An Apple a day…

Fresh Apples rightly have a good claim to promote health. They contain Vitamin C, which aid’s the immune system and helps reduce cholesterol. They are low in calories, prevent tooth decay and they are also rich in flavonoids, known for their antioxidant effects.

Apples have been around for over 4,000 years ever since the Iron Age and were first cultivated in Egypt. There are many mythological associations, with the apple in the Garden of Eden being the most
widely known. Apple trees can live for hundreds of years.

There are well over 7000 varieties cultivated today and they come in many different colours, shapes, textures and tastes. The flavours of traditional apples range greatly, from the fruity green to the freshly fragrant with hints of strawberries to the full-bodied, nutty and spicy types that come later in the season.

These can then be broken down into two main types: eating apples and culinary (cooking) apples. Eating apples are generally sweeter, with the most interesting flavour, as their sugars are balanced by an edge of acidity. They hold their shape well in cooking, making them the best choice for a French apple tart, a tart tatin etc. The most popular varieties include Granny Smith, Cox's Pippin, Bramley and Golden Delicious. Cooking apples are larger and more acidic. Their sourness mellows upon cooking, so you may not need to add as much sugar as you thought to a dish. They are excellent cooked in cakes, pies and puddings or made into jelly and sauces.

In my kitchen, Apples are essential ingredients that liven up so many recipes and they combine so well with so many other flavours.
Typical partners include blackberry, cinnamon, almonds, hazelnuts, saffron, cloves and sage. They are perfect partners for pork, cabbage and hard cheese. I adore apples with beetroot. The sharpness of green apples works so well with the earthiness and tempers the richness of beetroot perfectly. If you mix diced cooked beetroot with diced raw, un-skinned green apples and a few crushed walnuts. Bind them in a little mayonnaise with a touch of horseradish and some finely chopped chives; you have amazing little salad that is a great match for smoked fish and grilled oily fish such as mackeral. However, if its not your bag, try these easy recipes or simply eat your apple straight from the fruit basket.