Culinaria: JP McMahon on the temptation of an apple

A nice Irish variety is the Irish Peach, which originated in Sligo or Kilkenny in the 19th century. It was widely exported to England in the 1800s. It is great for baking

A nice Irish variety is the Irish Peach, which originated in Sligo or Kilkenny in the 19th century. It was widely exported to England in the 1800s. It is great for baking

 

There are 7,500 different varieties of apple. Thankfully, most of us only ever encounter a dozen or so in our daily lives. All apple varieties have a history and a specific date of their origin.

The Granny Smith apple originated in Australia in 1868. Not surprisingly, the apple was cultivated by Maria Ann ‘Granny’ Smith, who propagated the apple from a chance seedling. The apple has a deep history in world culture and its mythological status is still deeply resonant in many religions including Christianity.

It was an apple that ruined Adam (with a little assistance from Eve). In ancient Greece, the act of giving someone an apple was akin to offering them your affections.

Of all the many varieties, I like to use Elstar apples for desserts as they have a beautiful honeyed flavour and crisp texture. They’re a Dutch apple that began life in the 1950s. As well as working with desserts, they also pair well with duck.

Slice thinly and serve with wild mallard and elderberry sauce (see previous two weeks’ recipes). Perhaps a little blanched Russian kale and a roast carrot would complete the dish.

A nice Irish variety is the Irish Peach, which originated in Sligo or Kilkenny in the 19th century. It was widely exported to England in the 1800s. It is great for baking with and also good for eating straight off the tree. When I was younger, we used to get this apple from my friend’s grandmother’s orchard.

Though a simple pleasure, it was perhaps my first act of eating something directly out of nature.

Another nice Irish variety, in season now, is the Kerry Pippin. We often over complicate an apple purée with the addition of spices. I find the nicest way to use them is to bake them (about six) in their skin until soft and then peel them and blend. A little salt and local honey is all you should need. On the other hand, hay smoking the apples before baking adds a nice twist. Serve with any in-season game.

 

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