Wed, 08 Sep, 2021 – 07: 11
During the month of September, Irish apples are at their prime for picking. We have a couple of gnarled but fruitful apple trees in the back garden in Currabinny. Some of their branches creep over my mother’s art studio, dropping apples with a thud on the corrugated iron roof.
For the ones that don’t end up bruised in the studio gutter, they are picked when ripe and put in a large plastic bucket in the yard. For the next few weeks, we endeavour to make as many pies, chutneys, cakes and sauces as we can. This is pure seasonality; you get a glut of something in a certain month, and it dictates what you eat while it lasts. September to me always means apples. Of course, with some clever preserving, you don’t have to eat them all there and then.
For those of you who don’t have any apple trees, there are a few orchards around the country where you can go picking yourself. Currently, we import so many of the apples that we buy in supermarkets it is really important to get out there and support our local growers, who, more often than not are growing indigenous or native varieties which would be lost otherwise.
Almost every county has an associated variety of apples. The difference in shape, size, texture, flavour and colour of more than 100 traditional varieties is immense. The Irish Seedsavers Association based in Scarriff, County Clare set out in the 1990s to find and identify old native trees around the country, and rescue them from oblivion by propagation.
Their Native Irish Apple Collection was inaugurated in 1997. Once the ‘mother trees’ had grown large enough they grafted scionwood from these onto rootstock and started selling trees. More than 140 old Irish locally adapted cultivars were saved in this way and are once more being planted in gardens and orchards around the country.
In our own garden, our trees are of fairly common origin, two cooking apple trees (Bramley) and two more of what we always called ‘little Irish eating apples’, which are wonderfully crisp and sweet but still with a good amount of tartness. Both are useful in the kitchen in their own ways and provide a fairly reliable glut every year, even with the largely unreliable weather.
Simple apple cake
recipe by: Currabinny Cooks
This is a gorgeous upside-down cake where the magic happens when you flip over the cake pan onto a plate. Soft and warm baked apples surrounded by a luxurious caramel sauce
160g soft light brown sugar
175g cream flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 eating apples
200g caster sugar
150ml vegetable oil
Crème fraiche, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Line a 10-inch cake tin with butter and baking paper such that nothing can leak out.
Place the butter and brown sugar in the prepared cake tin and put it in the oven for around 6 minutes so that the sugar melts into the butter and starts to bubble gently.
In a large mixing bowl, place the dry ingredients of flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder and salt, mixing together with a whisk or fork to combine well. Set aside.
Take two of the apples and peel and core them before cutting them into 10-12 wedges.
Arrange these slices at the bottom of the tin on the caramel in a circular pattern. Core the remaining apple but leave the skin on and coarsely grate it. Place the grated apple in a large mixing jug along with the eggs, caster sugar and vegetable oil. Whisk together well and then combine with the dry ingredients. Fold the wet into the dry well to combine. Pour the resulting cake batter over the caramel and apple slices and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
Test with a skewer (it should come out clean) before placing the cake tin on a wire rack to cool. When cooled enough to handle, invert the cake onto a serving place. Serve with crème fraiche.
recipe by: Currabinny Cooks
This is a great recipe for using up the last of your apples which by the end of the month are all bruised and looking a bit shabby
1 hours 10 mins
2 big onions, roughly chopped
900g apples, cored and chopped
110g dried cranberries or sour cherries
15g ground coriander
1 large thumb of ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves of garlic, grated
340g light brown sugar
500ml cider vinegar
- Place all the ingredients in a large pot. Slowly bring to the boil over a medium high heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Turn the heat down and simmer for around 1 hour, stirring from time to time. After an hour the chutney should be good and thick. Scrape out the chutney into sterilized jars and seal.
Leave to cool and store in a dark cool place. Best eaten after a few weeks.
recipe by: Currabinny Cooks
This technique always gives me the best results for apple sauce but be sure to use an eating apple rather than a cooking apple, as the cooking apples core and seeds tend to turn the flesh slightly bitter
1 hours 20 mins
1 hours 22 mins
- 6 good sized firm eating apples (Pink Lady, Braeburn, Kerry Pippin)
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Arrange the apples in a roasting tray or casserole dish which has raised edges. Add around 3cm of water to the roasting tray. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 1 hour.
After an hour, the apples should be very soft but still holding their shape. Remove the foil and place back in the oven, roasting for another 20 minutes so that the apples start to bulge and burst in places. The skin should also take on a deeper colour.
Remove carefully from the casserole. These can be eating as they are with some cream or ice cream, You can also remove the purreed apple flesh, discarding the skin and core to use for all sorts of things.
The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the irishexaminer.com, direct to your inbox every Friday.