by Helen H. Moore
Apples, apples, what a treat,
sweet and tart and good to eat.
Apples green and apples red,
hang from branches overhead,
and when they ripen, down they drop,
so we can taste our apple crop.
As memories of the summer fade and the nights get longer, autumn brings it own pleasures. The trees become resplendent in vibrant shades of orange, red, yellow, purple, brown and gold. Villages throughout the land hold shows to judge the biggest marrow, pumpkin and onion, whilst, ‘We Plough the Fields and Scatter‘ is sung at Harvest Festivals in churches and school children learn Keats’ Ode to Autumn. Chrysanthemums provide a glorious final burst of colour and bushes are bedecked with autumnal berries, ready for Christmas wreaths. The first frosts bring plumbers a new rush of customers. Restaurants rustle up hearty soups and pubs stock up on wood for cosy fires to warm thirsty customers. But for me, the simple pleasure of apples in autumn is hard to beat.
Apples in Autumn
Not only do apples look and smell gorgeous, they also taste delicious and are extremely versatile. In his excellent cookery book Fruit, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall writes, “The apple is a miracle of a food, one without rival in the fruit kingdom – or any other kingdom, come to that. There really is no end to what you can do with this world-beating fruit – raw or cooked – in dishes sweet and savoury.” His recipes for Parsnip and Apple cakes, Apple bangers and Sardines with Fried Apples are just a few of the many ways of cooking these wholesome gems.
Peel an Apple
Peel an apple
Cut it up,
and cook it in a pot.
When you taste it,
you will find,
it’s apple sauce you’ve got!
On a visit to South Tyrol in northern Italy, I was taught to make traditional Apple Strudel by a farmer’s wife in a farmhouse high up in the mountains. You can watch her making it in this video.
I remember Mum baking apple pies and bottling chutneys to use up the surplus apples in autumn. She added pieces of apple to her home-made mincemeat and every Christmas I add it to a jar of shop-bought mincemeat, (along with a good slug of brandy for added oomph.) One of my first memories of apples is picking up a windfall from my grandmother’s back garden, checking for worm-holes and then biting into it. Juice squirted out and its sharp tang took my breath away. I don’t know what flavour it was but it wasn’t the sweetest of fruit.
The Apple Tree
Away up high
In an apple tree
Two red apples
Smiled at me
I shook that tree
As hard as I could
Down came those apples
And mmm were they good!
Apples play a significant role in our cultural heritage. They symbolize abundance, prosperity, temptation and much more. Adam and Eve in the Bible, the Golden Apples of Hesperides in Greek myth, Newton ‘discovering’ gravity via the falling apple, Johnny Appleseed wandering across America planting apple trees.
Johnny Appleseed Song
(sung to Do you Know the Muffin Man)
Do you know the apple man,
the apple man, the apple man?
Do you know the apple man?
He planted apple seeds.
He wore a pot upon his head,
upon his head, upon his head.
He wore a pot upon his head.
His name was Johnny Appleseed.
John Chapman was his real name,
his real name, his real name.
John Chapman was his real name;
But, we call him Johnny Appleseed.
Varieties of Apples
An apple a day may well keep the doctor away, but for once, this medicine tastes scrumptious. These days we can get apples all year round, from all over the world, but there nothing tastes better than freshly picked English apples in autumn … Over 2000 varieties have been grown in England and their names have a charming resonance that epitomises our quirky country: Adams Pearmain, Chivers Delight, Lord Lambourn, Gascoyne’s Scarlet, Knobbed Russet, Potts Seedling and of course, the perennial favourite, Cox’s Orange Pippin. If you don;t have an apple tree of your own, this autumn find your nearest orchard (like Helmsley Walled Garden in Yorkshire), visit a Farmers Market, go on an Apple Day outing, visit your local greengrocer, if you still have one, and if push comes to shove, get down to the supermarket; wherever you can, grab yourself a bag full of apples and enjoy the sublime taste of autumn …
I found these charming Apple Poems on the TeachingFirst.net, when researching poetry for this article.
I was given an apple tree for my 50th birthday. It was planted in the garden but never fruited. Apparently it needed another apple tree nearby to make it fertilize it to produce apples. I haven’t the heart to dig it up as it means a lot, so for now I have to rely on the generosity of friends, and our local shop.
You might like to see the short video I made last week of Apple Day at Helmsley Walled Garden on Apple Day under Carr House Farm. It is local to us and guests who stay with us at http://www.carrhousefarm.co.uk regularly enjoy it throughout the seasons. They looked to have a wonderful crop of apples taking advantage of the walled garden for shelter and training them up the walls. A perfect place to spend a few hours.
Hi Anna, how lovely to live near Helmsley Walled Garden. Your accommodation looks really nice 🙂
We have an apple tree in our garden – you’ve inspired me in that video to try that strudel. Looks delicious!
Let me know how you get on with the strudel Carol. I tried it and it tasted good but didn’t look quite as lovely as Martha’s – and Carnforth isn’t as beautiful as the mountains of South Tyrol!