Apples (Malus domestica), from the rosaceous family (Rosaceae), are a fruit with pips which are enjoyed the world over, especially in Europe and North America.
Originating in Asia, apples spread throughout Europe thanks mainly to those coming from the Caucasus and Altai Mountains. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, numerous varieties appeared due to cross breeding.
Apples are one of the most cultivated fruits in the world. Harvest depends on the variety but usually begins at the start of summer and ends at the end of autumn – and from autumn until the beginning of winter for wild varieties. As apples are grown in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, they are available year round.
Depending on the variety, apples come in different shapes and colors (two-colored, white, grey, golden yellow, red or green). Their taste varies greatly in terms of flavor, juiciness, tartness and crispness, depending on when they have been harvested and how they have been stored. Today, there are more than 20 000 apple varieties in the world; some are used in Cuisine and Pastry recipes whereas others are preferred in their natural state as a dessert.
The reference in terms of eating apples is the excellent sweet fleshed Red Delicious. Other varieties are also greatly appreciated such as Golden Delicious, Cortland, James Grieve, Starking, Sturmer Pippin, Cox’s Orange Pippin, McIntosh, Blenheim Orange, Belle de Boskoop, Reine des Reinettes, Jonathan, Rome, Russet, Gala, Stayman, Reinette Franche and Winesap.
Cuisine and Pastry Chefs mainly use Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Calville, Grenadier, Bramley and Gravenstein. Apples can be more or less ripe and firm depending on the culinary technique employed; poached, sautéed, cooked or pureed.
Numerous pastries include apples, notably the famous strudel, and apple pie, and they are often an integral part of donuts, charlottes, puddings, turnovers, tarts and many others. Apples are also used in distilleries to make brandy (eau-de-vie), such as the famous Normandy Calvados (AOC), and for making cider and apple juice.
Apples also have medicinal properties. Rich in minerals, fibers, carbohydrates and vitamins, they are extremely nutritious. Let’s not forget the famous saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
Click here to see Le Cordon Bleu Chefs’ apple recipes: