Wednesday, 21 October 2009

‘Tis the Apple Season

I was reading an article in one of the local free newspapers this morning about a woman probably in her mid 50s talking of her childhood memories around apples. She wrote, whilst she was growing up, the autumn crop of British apples was an event she and her family looked forward to. Her granny had several apple trees in her garden and would carefully wrap them in newspaper and put them away in a dark storage so that there were be some fresh apples on the table for Christmas. How times have changed, as a nation we no longer celebrate the seasonality of food.

Did you know that only 35% of apples eaten in the U.K are grown here. One reason for this is cost, the other, apparently is our insistence on buying perfect, out of season varieties, such as the banal Red Delicious in preference to misshapen but flavoursome local Cox’s Pippin.

In 2005, Friends of the Earth (FoE) found that many of Britain's supermarket were failing British apple growers by importing the vast majority of its apples especially at the height of the UK apple season. The survey also revealed a poor show for UK apple sourcing overall, with nearly two thirds of apple lines on supermarket shelves sourced from overseas. Some apples had traveled more than halfway around the world to reach UK supermarkets. In my lunch hour, I walked over to the local supermarket to see if there was any substance to FoE claims. I noted most of the apples were from overseas, imported from countries like New Zealand, France, and Belgium. I do understand our need to import some fruit and vegetables from abroad as the climate in the U.K is not conducive to some fruit and vegetables, but apples – at the height of the apple season, oh please. Fortunately, the one place you will see local apples appearing are at farmers markets.

Here's a list of some varieties apples grown in the U.K: Blenheim Orange, Bloody Ploughman Charles Ross, Crispin, Discovery, Egremont Russett, Gala, Ida Red, Kidd’s Orange Red, Love Beauty, Scotch Dumpling and Spartan.
Apples are perhaps the most versatile of fruits. Apples are sweet or sour essentials in salads, slaws and soups and provide a saucy counterpoint to any entrée. Apples are a key to classics in compotes, chutneys and stuffings, along with homemade delights such as this flapjack. For these flapjacks I have used Cox’s apples which grow between September to January. The Cox apple is perhaps the most well known dessert apple, with a rich, slightly sweet and almost nutty flavour. The skin is occasionally russet, with autumnal reds and yellows over green. It is picked in late September but needs to be allowed to mature off the tree before eating.

As for the health qualities of apples, did you know it contains quercetin. No, to be honest nor did I. In fact I didn’t even know what quercetin was until today. These destroy damaging free radicals that circulate in the blood stream, particularly during exercise; causing muscle and cell damage that make you feel tired. A recently study showed that increasing your quercetin intake increases energy levels, well that’s good to know, I guess it supports the saying ‘an apple a day keep the doctor away’.
Two Timing Apple Flapjacks
Makes 8 - 10
170g butter
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and grated. I used crisp British Cox apples
30g sultanas
140g soft light brown sugar
60g self-raising flour
180g rolled oats
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4. Grease a tin, my measured 11 x 7 inches. Melt the butter. Stir in the flour, oats, sugar and combine then add sultanas and apple. Spread the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 – 40 minutes until golden brown. Cool before cutting into slices. If you want to know some really interesting facts about apples, follow this link where Johanna of the Green Giraffe has done some fine research and put together some fantastic information that will make your mind boggle.


  1. Lovely! For a brief period of time I worked at an apple orchard here in the US and we were allowed to eat however many we wanted, right off the tree. Cool, speckled with dew, and fragrant. I can't even begin to tell you how the pickers scorned the tasteless Red Delicious... When we had Galas, Mutsu, Jonagolds, Winesap, and (my very favorite) Macintosh.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this BT. It is most appreciated. I am also glad to read that your fellow pickers also turned their noses up to the Red Delicious, not just fussy people like me. Like you wrote, there are so many varieties in the USA, so why get fixated on one type of apple just because it cosmetically looks oh so perfect. There are so many other varieties around growing locally, and more often than not, they are so so tasty.

  3. Great post, Mango! You're so right about eating locally grown. My favorite apples are from my neighbors' trees, slightly blemished but packed with flavor. Ida Reds are peaking now. We should all turn to our backyards and local farmers markets to enjoy real food and support local communities.

  4. Thank you Barbara.
    Its a great shame that people are happy to eat an apple that has been sprayed with chemicals and then packaged in cellophane bags, rather than pick those slightly tinged with imperfection directly from a tree.

    Sometimes people just need reminding. Yes, I am all for supporting farmers markets and local communities, even better I am happy to go and pick my own, if I can - even better if its free food.

  5. Your comments about the grandma in that article brought back lovely memories of my own childhood. We all helped wrap the apples in newspaper off our trees to make sure one didn't spoil the rest and stored them in a huge old trunk in our attic until the Christmas hols.
    I remember shaking one type of apple and hearing the pips jingle to see that it was ripe. I think it was a Cox apple.
    I had forgotten all about it until you mentioned that lady. :o)

  6. I love English apples and i refuse to eat any imports. May two favourites are Discovery, really fragrant sweet early season apples but best of all Egremont Russet, crunchy, sharp, tangy and they keep well. Yum. Great post highlighting the problems of not eating local and seasonal.

  7. Your right, It is such a pity we've forgotten how to eat seasonally with the introduction of year round availability through cheap imports in supermarkets. Its something we're trying to do more ourselves now that we're growing our own. Fresh fruit and veg locally produced and in season is just no comparison to commercial imports. Stew and casserole season coming on now...I love comfort food!!

  8. Never knew so much about apples..and the apple flipjacks sound going to make it sooon!

  9. Oh gosh I dont often eat apples, although I like using them in baking. I think its because we dont often get to the markets and so only really get the icky supermarket apples.
    Im so glad that changing the amount of posts per page fixed the problem :)


  10. I went through a Delicious phase but am well out of it - those apple names are so poetic - reason enough not to lose them - love the idea of apples in flapjacks - thanks for the link to my post too!

  11. Looks really delicious. I have enjoyed my apples for 2 months now, cooking with them, baking and bringing them to work as snacks.

    I see that you have fixed the live traffic feed now. The layout of the blog works perfect even in the chrome browser.

  12. Welcome and Thank you for your comments on my blog Cheerfulness.

    I am so glad I evoked postive memories of your childhood, it really did make me smile and sad at the same time. Smile because it was a fond memory of yours that you have kindly shared, and sad that such traditions have been lost through time.

    Hi Linda,
    I know you love your English apples. I remember your post on A&C veg box and your disappointment at the apples they supplied.

    I think the 3 apples I gained from my allotment neighbour were Discovery, so I can see why you like them. I don't think I have had Egremont Russet, if I should ever come by them, I will be sure to pick some up to try.

    Thank you for your kind comments on the post. Since I have properly started growing my own, eating seasonal just seems like commonsense.

    Hello the adventurous travelling Sharon. I will be over later to read about your travels.

    I don't want to sound like a total hypocrite, but eating seasonal is relatively new to me too, I was blinkered and blinded by the year round availability of cheap imports in supermarkets, and now and again will probably still fall for 'bargains' for economic reasons more than anything else, but growing my own, sure has been an eye-opener and given me true appreciation of seasonality and a taste of real food.

    I know its something your trying to do, and believe me it will get easier with time, especially when you really begin to taste the difference and moreso know the taste of a real tasting carrot, apple or tomato.

    Your right that the stew and casserole season coming on now; with the fresh vegetable beginning to dwindle, I will soon be relying on my store cupboard and freezer ingredients.

    Hello FloweringCactus,
    I am glad you enjoyed reading this entry on apples. If you get round to making the apple flapjacks, I hope you enjoy them. Flapjacks are good breakfast food, especially when you are on the move.

    Hi Rose,
    If you get a chance try and eat a locally grown apple fresh, you will really taste the difference. Thanks for changing the amount of posts per page on your blog, it has made my visits easier :)

    I can understand why you went through a Delicious phase, if that is all we are being sold, then of course we think it is going to be the best apple in the world.

    Yes I agree, many of the apple names are so poetic (and some even romantic). Knowing about your entry on the History of apples and appley things and then to have ignored it, would have been a blogger crime, so I was honoured to acknowledge it and share it with other readers who may not have seen it. Thank you for not minding.

    Thank you so much Kontrazt,
    And thanks for confirming that the live traffic feed problem has been sorted.

  13. i certainly will if i spot them at the markets next time! Im glad you can now visit safely, its such a pain when your computer keeps crashing, mine has been doing alot of that lately.


  14. Thanks for the interesting information. I am inspired to eat more apples now!

  15. Rose,
    I too am glad that i can visit : D

    Enjoy the apple season!


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