The Abundance of Apple Varieties
The United Kingdom is home to over 2,500 different apple varieties, although the limited selection found in supermarkets may not give the impression of this. Jane Scotter, proprietor of the Herefordshire biodynamic farm Fern Verrow, explains that this is why “where you purchase your apples from is more significant.” “The best way to learn more” is to visit a farmer’s market, she explains, “where they know the specific qualities of each apple.”
Obviously, that is not possible for every individual; therefore, let us adopt some advice from The Farm Table author Julius Roberts: “We are all aware that there are eaters and cookers, but despite the fact that eating apples are sharper than cookers, they can still be used to prepare meals.” However, avoid becoming “too bogged down” in varieties: “Your focus should be more on the texture and flavour.” Roberts suggests obtaining a selection and “just playing around” in order to arrive at this conclusion through experimentation.
The Versatile Russet Apple
However, Scotter asserts that there is one apple that can be relied upon for both preparation and consumption: the russet. She explains, “It has an exquisite flavour and consistency, and it will not crumble when you make tarte tatin,” as structural integrity is frequently the determining factor. “A cooking apple will completely dissolve and thicken the gravy. However, you do not want your apple pie to resemble baby food.”
If picked in mid-October, David Josephs of Panzer’s in north London recommends using Blenheim Oranges in salads with russets. If the sugar level has increased, the flesh will hold its colour and not brown quickly when cut.
However, Scotter asserts that when heat is an element, nothing compares to a bramble. “It is the cooking apple that imparts a delightful flavour and a texture that can become quite snowy when sweetened to taste,” she explains. Josephs further states that bramleys “reign supreme” due to their dependability, as they maintain “high acidity levels throughout the year.”
Scotter further states that Reverend Wilks is an additional “beautiful cooking apple with superb tartness,” although the Pitmaston Pineapple, which has “fairytale-shaped shoulders and a nice little waist,” is her preference to cook whole. Skye Gyngell bakes these “like toffee apples” at her Scotter-supplied restaurant Spring and serves them with ice cream.
Mixing and Matching for Flavour
The turnovers at Roberts, however, illustrate the fact that two pears are occasionally more advantageous than one. “You want the texture to hold, but you also want it to have a nice mushiness,” he explains. Roberts employs a combination of eaters and cookers to strike this balance. After reducing bramley apples to syrup, I will add chopped eating apples to make apple pieces in a delectable sauce.
While crumbles can be produced by combining bramleys and coxes, this strategy is also applicable to savoury situations. “I adore apples with meat,” Roberts says, specifically pork belly roasted with white wine, garlic, shallots, and thyme on top of the fruit. Using bramleys’ sharp body and sweet ones to melt and absorb fatty hog juices makes a delightful apple sauce. Certainly, that is something to chew on.