Apple season is in full swing with the arrival of crisp, luscious new-crop apples to replace previous year’s apples that have been preserved for a long time. There are now roughly 7,500 apple cultivars in the globe, including 2,500 in the United States. In most supermarkets, you will only find four or five varieties, although your local farmer’s market would often have dozens.
Globally, new varieties are continuously being developed at research orchards. Elizabeth Landau travelled to Nova Scotia for The Times, where she interviewed experts exploring the genetics of apple variation. She says that their objective is to make fruit that is “tastier, more durable, more disease-resistant, and has a longer shelf life in response to changing weather” — the Honeycrisps and SnapDragons of the future. This is the Apple update I am most looking forward to.
Do you have a favourite apple? For eating out of hand, I like Braeburns, Winesaps, and Honeycrisps, but for making pies, I prefer Mutsus, Cortlands, and Granny Smiths. I enjoy McIntoshes in the fall, when they are exceptionally fresh, shockingly sweet-sour, and juicy.
What else can you prepare with so many apples? Genevieve Ko’s quick, lightly spiced apple crisp (above) requires no peeling; that’s my sort of dish. These cinnamon-scented candy apples require a little more effort, but are well worth it when you bite into the crunchy sugar shell.
On the savoury side of apple cuisine, you may prepare this sheet-pan chicken with apples, fennel, and onion; fennel seeds are used to highlight the anise flavour of the roasted fennel bulb. How about Rosie Schaap’s apple cider and bourbon punch for a drink? Did you know that one gallon of cider requires 20 pounds of apples?
Of course, fall isn’t only about apples. All forms and textures of winter squash and gourds are on show. Ali Slagle’s entire roasted acorn squash looks delicious. It could not be simpler: Roast the whole chicken until the skin and meat are soft enough to be scooped with a spoon. Then, you may split it open and pour it with an assortment of condiments and sauces, including spicy honey, chile crisp, garlicky tahini, miso-sesame vinaigrette, browned butter, and minty yoghurt sauce. It is one of those fundamental recipes that may also be used to different types of squash. Yes, you may eat the roasted squash skin, which becomes somewhat crunchy. Serve it as the main course or as a side dish with honey-roasted shrimp.
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This month, the Nobel Prize in Literature was presented to the poet laureate of a supermarket, Annie Ernaux. Supermarkets appear in the most, if not all, of her writings. Her book “Look At the Lights, My Love” is a diary of her 2012 and 2013 visits to a single supermarket. According to her essay “Exteriors,” a supermarket “may give as much significance and human reality as a symphony theatre.”
I continue to believe they do not have enough varieties of apples. We’ll see you Wednesday.