The cool British climate is ideally suited to growing apples, but they’re also imported to the UK from countries such as New Zealand, South Africa and France. There are over 7,000 varieties, but here are some of the most popular:
• Braeburn Attractive red dessert apple originally from New Zealand, good for eating and for cooking. Availability: October–July.
• Bramley This large, irregularly-shaped green apple is used widely in cooking, especially for apple sauce and apple pies. Availability: All year.
• Cox's A richly aromatic apple, crisp creamy fruit, excellent for eating and cooking. Availability: October–December.
• Discovery A green-skinned apple flushed with pink, its refreshing flavour and crisp texture is most evident when it’s chilled.
• Egremont Russet Gold skin, with a leathery texture. The flesh is white, with a nutty flavour and hard, firm texture Availability: October–December.
• Fuji Sweet crisp apples, also good for cooking as they keep their shape. Availability: All year.
• Gala These tend to have tougher yellow skins flushed with red or orange and have a crisp, sweet juicy flavour. Availability: All year; English from November to February.
• Golden Delicious A good all-round apple, large and pale green in colour with a sweet crisp, slightly acidic flesh. Availability: All year.
• Granny Smith A versatile apple that keeps well; its tart, refreshing flavour and its ability to retain its shape means it’s particularly good cooked. Availability: All year.
• Red Delicious A bright red apple with a slightly crumbly yellowish white flesh and slight tartness. Availability: All year.
• Pink Lady A particularly sweet eating apple with a pretty pink skin, it also cooks well as it keeps its shape. Availability: All year.
Look for unblemished, unbruised fruit. Brown patches (‘scald’) are the result of overexposure to sunlight but don’t affect the quality.
Eating apples can be enjoyed whole with the skin on; just rinse and enjoy. If preferred, they can be peeled with a vegetable peeler, then chopped or sliced. To prevent apples discolouring once cut, toss them in lemon juice (or in water with a squeeze of lemon juice) to prevent oxidation. Cooking apples should be peeled, cored and chopped. To make apple purée, just cook with a tablespoonful or two of water and sugar to sweeten until the fruit breaks down to a pulp. Baked apples are cored and scored through their skin around the circumference then stuffed with sugar, butter and dried fruits and baked in the oven. Sliced apples are delicious cooked in crumbles, tarts and pies and make a nice crisp addition to salads.
They’ll keep in a fruit bowl for a week, or a little longer in the fridge. For longer-term storage, wrap apples individually in newspaper in a wooden box. Store in single layers as one rotten apple will spoil the lot, and keep in a cold dark place such as the garage or shed, checking them from time to time.