It’s hard to think of an apple as a seasonal fruit because a good selection of apples is available all year round, flown in from wherever they happens to be in season. The apple, however, is a fall fruit and if you have ever seen an apple orchard, those trees laden with golden, red, green or pink fruit in September and October are as exciting as anything I have ever seen (I live a sheltered life… ).
One of the most versatile elements in the kitchen, apples can be incorporated into so many dishes and lend themselves to almost any cooking method. For me though, nothing surpasses the humble apple pie or the more sophisticated French apple galette or the famous Tarte Tatin. You may be a chocolate addict but for me it’s apples for dessert. The sweet and tangy flavours balanced by a buttery, flaky crust is just what my palate requests at the end of dinner.
Needless to say I have developed numerous recipes featuring apples and I share some of them here with you. There are many varieties of apples available and here are some of my favorites. Generally or baking you’d want apples that would soften yet retain some hale, not cook into. Sauce. The flavour should have a nice balance of sweet and tart.
Golden Delicious: the quintessential apple for baking into pies and such. It bakes into soft texture but not mushy. This is also good for making applesauce. The skin is soft and supple enough and often does not require peeling.
Granny Smith: tart, juicy, tangy and crisp this is probably my favorite apple to eat raw. Early season specimen is so tart it makes your teeth hurt. I use it for baking when I want the shape of the slices to remain prominent, as in open faced
apple tarts with concentric design made with the slices of apples. You can bake it into pies as well but it won’t yield a saucy interior as the apple pieces retain their shape. Still delicious. I add some caramel sauce to the filling when I bake with Granny Smith.
Macintosh: best for applesauce but also good for baking when you want a soft mass of applesauce texture in your dessert as it tends not to retain it’s shape. I sometimes pair it with Golden Delicious when baking pies or crisps.
Gala: great for salads with it’s firm texture and beautiful pinkish red skin. I cut it into matchsticks, unpeeled so the pink skin shows on both ends, and pile a mound of julienne apple on top of arugula or endive. Lovely.
Pippin: another great variety for baking or making apple sauce.
Braeburn, Jonathan, Empire: good or baked apple deserts when you hollow an apple, fill it with granola type filing, top with butter and bake.
There are so many more varieties out there. See what’s available in your markets and try a couple of new varieties now and then. Educate your palate and expand your horizons.