Apples prolong life, protect against many diseases and have a reputation as a rejuvenating fruit – and you can’t count the number of dishes that can be prepared with them!
The apple tree is native to western Asia. Legend has it that Alexander the Great, on his march to Asia Minor in 300 B.C., discovered dwarf apple trees and sent seedlings to Macedonia. There the cultivation of apple trees started.
Winter apples, which were picked in autumn and stored all winter at just above zero, were an important source of nutrition for the people of Asia and Europe for several thousand years. Apples arrived in North America with the colonists in the 1600s. Today there are over 7,500 varieties and the apple industry is valued at over $10 billion worldwide.
Apples are a very popular and perhaps the most common fruit in our country. Their regular consumption helps maintain an adequate level of vitamins and minerals important for the human body. They contain vitamins C, B1, B2, P, E, carotene, potassium, iron, manganese, calcium, pectins, sugars, organic acids and other nutrients.
Types and varieties
Among the great multitude of varieties of apples, let’s look only at the most widespread species in our latitudes.
Perhaps there is no more famous Russian apple than the Antonowka. The fruits of this variety are light green, not very smooth in shape and taste quite sour. Its strong aroma and shelf-life are amazing. When cooked, anthanberry quickly softens into a purée. It produces a long shelf-life.
Another well-known domestic variety, the white olive, has small apples with a white-salad thin skin. This variety is extremely sweet and aromatic, but does not lend itself to long storage.
The Semerenko variety has small green fruits with a thick skin and sour flesh. It is a long storage variety.
The red, medium-sized Gala apple has a crunchy, juicy flesh.
The Golden, or Golden Delicious, has large apples with a golden rind, studded with small freckles, and a sweet, delicate flesh.
Granny Smith is renowned for its large, deep green fruit with a thick skin. The flesh is firm and sweet-sour.
The deep red with yellow streaks jonathan apples are quite acidic with an extremely thick rind that should be peeled off.
The Fuji apple, with its delicate yellow-pink ‘skin’, is renowned for its unmatched sweetness and delicate flavour.
The Honey Crunch apple variety with its bright red-yellow rind and sugary flesh is distinguished by the large amount of juice in each apple.
McIntosh apples have rich red, with green parts on the sides. Their flesh is quite soft.
A hybrid of the Jonathan and Golden varieties has the uncomplicated name of jonagold. These are juicy and crispy fruits with a red-yellow colour. They are slightly sour.
Idared fruits are either just red or bright red with yellow spots. The flesh is firm but juicy.
Red Delicious apples are distinguished by their weighty, slightly oblong fruits with a dark red rind. The flesh is sweet, soft and has a slightly powdery taste.
The red-fruited gloucester variety is similar to the red delicacy. Only gloster has a more rounded shape and a greenish flesh.
The red-gold or red-green bramble is an autumn apple which is not harvested until late October. Their flesh is very fragrant, firm and intensely sweet and sour.
A hybrid of the Golden and Lady William varieties is called the Pink Lady for its sweet pink flesh and yellow-pink rind.
Paradise apples are also sometimes called chinamen here. They are small red fruits with a piercingly sour taste.
How to cook
There are more than a few varieties of apples used in different ways. Some are only good fresh, others are best baked, juiced, made into cider, vinegar, jammed, used in confectionery and so on.
Antonowka is good for jamming, souring (dried apples) and adding to sauerkraut.
Seedlings are washed, stuffed into pies and made into jam.
Galas are good simply for fresh juice or as an ingredient in a fruit salad.
Golden tastes just fresh and complements fruit salads well.
Granny Smith is probably one of the most suitable apple varieties for stuffing and baking. But in general it is a versatile variety, and can be eaten plain, juiced and put into pies.
Jonathan is delicious just like that. However, a very thick rind can make it difficult to fully enjoy this fresh apple.
Honeycrisp is a variety for eating and juicing.
Fujii are best eaten fresh. Although these apples are also good in fruit salads and puree soups.
Mcintosh are not very suitable for pie filling or baking. These apples quickly disintegrate into mush. They are better consumed fresh.
Jonagolds, with their sour taste, are good to use in cooking.
Idared with their juicy flesh give a delicious juice when squeezed. They also make excellent jams and pie fillings.
Red Delicious are too soft for pie filling. They are just as good as table apples.
Gloucesters “play” best in salads. It’s not worth peeling the rind off them.
Braeburns are eaten plain.
The Pink Lady yields an extremely tasty juice as well as a unique flavour in pie fillings and salads.
Paradise apples are too sour to be enjoyed fresh. But they make an excellent jam, especially when boiled whole with the stalks.
The season is
In the Midlands, the season for the ripest and tastiest apples lasts from late July to October, although there are earlier and later varieties. And imported apples can be bought in shops and markets all year round.
How to choose and store
Different apple varieties have different shelf lives. Summer apples don’t last more than 2-3 weeks. Autumn apple varieties can be stored for quite a long time – right through to winter. Winter varieties, on the other hand, can be stored until the next harvest, once they have rested for a month and are fully flavourful.