October is the month of the British apple, with autumn gardens, hedgerows and orchards brimming with thousands of delicious varieties. Its versatility and resourcefulness undoubtedly makes it Blighty’s most reliable and widely use fruit. Whether in the form of dry scrumpy cider, the perfect accompaniment to a Sunday roast, or the base to of a lightly spiced sponge, they are one fruit used in every form of cooking.
At the height of the British season, 21st October sees growers, producers, makers and bakers celebrate this first-rate fruit on National Apple Day. First held in 1990, after the significant demise in British orchards, the need to support British growers and UK varieties of this favoured fruit was never more prominent. Today, although fighting off stiff competition from foreign, supermarket imports, the British apple is thriving – with people more aware than ever of food miles, and undisclosed supply chains, the British apple has never been so popular.
Although a seasonal glut may force you to think innovatively in the kitchen, the apple in routed in so much tradition, its surely best enjoyed it most in classic British recipes. Chutneys, crumbles, pies and cakes are simple ways that best celebrate the apple’s fantastic flavours and textures. Classical British apples such as the cooker, Bramley, are great stewed, sweetened slightly by some brown sugar and delicately spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Eaters, such as cox are great in the stewing pot also when you want to step away from the sugar. Hardy in texture, and carrying both a tart and sweet flavour, these robust apples are perfect for stewing with softer fruits.
British apples aren’t particularly floral in flavour and so they pair perfectly with hardy autumnal herbs such as rosemary and thyme. In sweet or savoury dishes, apples complex pallet is brought to life with such aromatics, making them ideal for our Autumn herb panna cotta with gin-spiked apple and blackberries.
So this month we are cheers’ing to the brilliant bounty which is the apple harvest. With cider in hand, its bottoms-up to this fantastic fruit!
Words and Photo by Helen Upshall