Whether or not you believe the old adage that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, you can’t dispute that apples have excellent health benefits.
And they are ideal for cooking and baking. Who doesn’t love a comforting apple pie with lashings of whipped cream? Or crisp apples in a salad?
Apples also marry well with pork or chicken and, if you are into juicing, they make a most refreshing drink.
Try feeding your children apple chips instead of the potato version – they are sweeter and far healthier.
You may be surprised to know that the pips in apples contain small quantities of cyanide so don’t go munching on too many of them.
Other than eating them, apples have a few other useful applications.
* Add a slice of apple to a packet of brown sugar that has become solid. In a few hours, it will become soft.
* Add half an apple to your cake tin and it will keep your cake soft and fresh for longer.
* If your soup or stew is too salty, add a sliced apple and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove the apple and it should be less salty.
* Apples give off ethylene which hastens ripening. If you have an avocado or bananas that you need ripened in a hurry, put them in a paper bag with an apple and in no time at all they will be ripe.
APPLE AND ALMOND CAKE
200g butter, softened
180ml castor sugar
5ml vanilla extract
2ml almond extract
250ml ground almonds
250ml self raising flour
1 red apple, cored and cut into thin wedges
1 green apple, cored and cut into thin wedges
melted apricot jam to glaze
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the extracts.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
Add the ground almonds, flour and the milk and combine.
Spoon the mixture into a greased and base- lined 23cm springform cake tin.
Arrange the apple slices in alternate colours around the batter. Bake at 180°C for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Remove and brush the top of the cake with apricot jam.
Cool and remove from the tin.
CHICKEN, APPLE AND FENNEL SALAD IN PITA
1 large bulb of fennel, trimmed, halved lengthways and thinly sliced
2 apples, cored, halved and thinly sliced
80ml lemon juice
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
250ml chopped parsley
125ml pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cooked chicken, shredded
125ml thick yoghurt
salt and pepper
6 pita breads
rocket, for serving
Combine the fennel and apple in a large bowl and toss with half the lemon juice to prevent browning.
Add onion, parsley, pecans and chicken and stir to combine.
Whisk together the yoghurt, mayonnaise and the remaining lemon juice.
Pour over the apple and chicken mixture and stir well. Season.
Heat the pita breads slightly and cut them in half. Put a few leaves of rocket in the pockets and fill with the chicken salad.
ROAST PORK WITH APPLES
5ml fennel seeds
5ml caraway seeds
5ml coarse sea salt
30ml olive oil
1kg pork loin roast
2 bulbs of fennel, sliced lengthways
2 apples, unpeeled, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
330ml can of cider
250ml chicken stock
1 tin of baby apples
Combine fennel and caraway seeds, salt and oil and rub on top of the pork. Stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
Place the fennel, apples, onion and garlic in a roasting pan. Place the pork on top of the vegetables.
Pour in the cider and chicken stock.
Roast in a preheated oven at 180°C for 40 minutes.
Add the tin of baby apples and roast for another 20 minutes.
To make a gravy, strain the juices into a pot, add 5ml cornflour mixed with 15ml cold water and simmer until thickened.
Slice the pork and serve with the vegetables and gravy.
APPLE AND SWEET POTATO GRATIN
4 leeks, sliced
a few sprigs of thyme
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 red-skinned apples, unpeeled and thinly sliced
2 orange sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 5cm-deep ovenproof dish.
Heat the butter in a frying pan and fry the leeks until translucent.
Add the thyme.
Place the leeks at the bottom of the prepared dish.
Heat the milk and cream with the garlic. Remove and set aside.
Layer the apples and sweet potato slices, alternating in rows, in the prepared dish. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the milk-cream over the apple and sweet potato slices.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes.
SAGE AND APPLE MEATLOAF
15ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
500g beef mince
500g pork sausage
250ml fresh breadcrumbs
1 apple, grated
15ml Dijon mustard
45ml chopped fresh sage or 15ml dried sage
salt and pepper
250ml fresh breadcrumbs
60ml chopped fresh sage
grated rind of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Grease and line a 10 x 20cm loaf pan with baking paper.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Set aside to cool.
Combine the mince, inside of pork sausage, breadcrumbs, grated apple, egg, mustard, sage and cooled onion and mix well. Season.
Press into the prepared loaf pan. Smooth the top.
Sprinkle with the topping and press firmly.
Cover with tinfoil and bake for 50 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for an extra 10-15 minutes, until golden on top.
Stand in pan for 5 minutes, before removing. Cut into slices and serve.
TOPPING: Combine all the ingredients.
HEALTHY APPLE CHIPS
1 litre water
Combine the juice of a lemon with the water.
Cut the apples into thin slices, about 3mm thick.
Place apple slices in the lemon water, to prevent them from discolouring.
Arrange the slices in a single layer on a cooling rack. Place in a 150°C oven for 30-40 minutes, turning the apples halfway, until dried out.
Remove and cool. Store in an airtight container.