Autumn is the time to celebrate one of our most popular fruits, writes Tracy Hargreaves
Apples have been around for centuries. In fact, according to the popular Christian tradition that has held, it was an apple that Eve coaxed Adam to share with her all those years ago.
Today, we still love apples and they probably remain one of the top fruits that we eat. There are literally thousands of varieties grown around the world, sadly nowadays we import a lot of them and many of the older varieties have dwindled away. But there are still places in the UK where there are beautiful orchards that produce amazing apples.
However, they can be difficult to grow. I remember being told when I was younger to plant a pip and it would grow into an apple tree. It never did. Apple trees need to be close to each other to thrive, as they require pollinators to take the pollen from one plant and transfer it across into the flower of another.
It’s that crossing of pollen that creates the most wonderful genetic exchange. Every single pip is potentially a new variety that could fall anywhere in the spectrum of small and sour to big and juicy.
Supermarkets tend to stock the main varieties such as Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Gala and Pink Lady, but you may find a different range at farm and specialist food shops and they will all have their own flavour and texture. That’s why apples are so popular, as there is probably a different apple for everyone.
National Apple Day is on 21st October and the event was made official in Covent Garden, London in 1990 when everyone celebrated the harvest and shared apples. It then went on to people organising events to celebrate the day with the encouragement of trying new types of apples and recipes, not to mention the different cider that was made and enjoyed.
It’s also a time to make the most of the season and use apples in an array of recipes. They are extremely versatile as there’s two types of apples, eaters and cooking and they can be used in anything in both sweet and savoury dishes, from a comforting crumble to a spicy chutney. Eaters tend to be sweeter and hold their shape in cooking and are great in apple tarts or tart Tatin. Cooking apples are larger and more sour. The most popular British cooking apple is the Bramley.
We’ve all heard the expression ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, but what are the health benefits?
Apples are extremely rich in important antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fibre. The phytonutrients and antioxidants in apples may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, so even if we don’t eat them on a regular basis they are good for us.
Apples will be around for centuries to come, with new varieties being discovered all the time. Next time you pick up an apple, think about where it might have come from and the fact that they really are amazing apples.