This year’s harvest of apples and pears is now well underway and as I write the local community of Donnybrook is in the final stages of preparation for the annual Donnybrook Apple Festival. Timed around Easter each year, this is a community event that provides a focus for travellers to pause and celebrate the role of the apple industry in the region.
The southwest is one of the cleanest and greenest growing environments in the world. Fruit production is just one of the many agricultural industries that thrive in its fertile soil. Winemaking, olives, and other gourmet fare are all increasing in production in the region. The Apple Festival gives locals a chance to showcase what our beautiful town can produce and helps to create a sense of community and belonging.
In WA the apple and pear harvest occurs from March to June, commencing with the first picked varieties Galaxy and Gala apples and Red Sensation and Bartlett pears. These are quickly followed by crops of Fuji, Kanzi, Pink Lady and Bravo… so let’s get crunching.
This season, local growers are faced with one of the most difficult growing seasons on record and are calling on shoppers’ support to buy fruit that may be hail marked, sun blemished or colour challenged. These visual characteristics make no impact of the premium eating experience – skin blemishes don’t impact on flavour.
Apples and pears are extremely nutritious and should be an important food in our eating regime. Apples are rich in antioxidants and the soluble fibre pectin, which are both known for their heart protective capabilities. Dietary fibre reduces the risks of some cancers and helps to control blood sugar levels, which is important to diabetics. Interestingly, pears are one of only two food products that are non-allergenic, making them ideal for introducing solids to babies and for people on elimination diets.
Research carried out by the University of Western Australia (UWA) and Edith Cowan University (ECU) has shown the consumption of apples has a direct impact on humans by improving cardiovascular health.
The science behind how apples assist human health validates the health benefits of apples long advocated by the saying: “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
Apples are high in flavonoids (a type of antioxidant), which are concentrated in the skin rather than the flesh of apples so you should eat the whole fruit to obtain the health benefits, says Dr Catherine Bondonno who worked on the study.
The apple study screened the flavonoid content of more than 100 apples in Western Australia, and identified apples that are high in flavonoids, including Pink Lady™ and Bravo™ branded apples.
So tuck into some brightly coloured local apples and enjoy them ‘skin on’ to maximise the health benefits. To increase your consumption of fresh apples, simply add to your daily breakfast cereal, use to add crunch to your salad or eat an apple or pear as an in-between meal snack – you can spice things up by trying a different variety each day.
Whilst the weather is warm, it’s best to store apples and pears in the fridge to ensure they keep that freshly picked crunch.
Fresh is best with WA apples and pears, yet they are just as delicious cooked in savoury and sweet dishes. Generally, the sweeter the fruit, the better it will perform in a cooked recipe. Grab an apple and pear today and enjoy the recipes below:
Brought to you by Fresh Finesse Fresh Food Promotions – www.freshf.com.au
Cumin, pears, carrot and lentil strudel
Preheat oven 180°C or 160°C fan force; Preparation 15 min; Cooking 45 mins; serves 4
- 200g firm green pears, stem removed and cored
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds, dry roasted and cooled
- 150g carrots, peeled and grated
- 150g firm tofu, diced into 1cm pieces
- ¾ cup precooked canned lentils, drained
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- 6 sheets filo pastry
- Spray rice bran oil
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup plain low fat yoghurt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cut the pear flesh into 1cm square pieces and put into bowl – grind the cumin seeds in a mortar and pestle; sprinkle over the pears and toss to coat well.
- Combine carrots, tofu, lentils and orange zest – mix well.
- Lay one sheet of pastry on the bench – spray lightly with oil. Top with another sheet and repeat until the pastry is all used.
- Spoon the carrot mixture down one side of the assembled pastry layers – top with diced pears – sprinkle with ground black pepper; roll and pull in the ends to make a sealed package.
- Next lift onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Spray with a light coating of oil and bake until brown and crisp – around 45 minutes.
- Combine the yoghurt, mint and pepper – serve the sliced strudel hot with the yoghurt and green salad or steamed vegetables of your choice.
Coconut baked galaxy apple wedges
- Preparation: 10 mins; cooking: 25 mins; serves 4
- 4 Galaxy apples, peeled, quartered and cored
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 3 tablespoon macadamia nuts, finely chopped
- ¾ cup shredded coconut
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Toss the apple quarters in the lemon juice. Combine the lemon zest, chopped macadamia nuts and coconut in a bowl.
- Combine the egg and sugar in another bowl and dip the apple quarters into the mixture. Allow the excess egg to drip off, then roll the apple quarters in the coconut mixture. Place on baking tray and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the apples are cooked and golden.
Apple bircher muesli
Preparation time: 10 mins; cooking nil; serves: 2
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup creamy natural yogurt
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 apples (Royal Gala, Fuji or Red Delicious)
- 1 tablespoon sultanas
- 1 tablespoon chopped dried pears
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped roasted hazelnuts
- ½ tablespoon pepitas
- 1 teaspoon sunflower seeds
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- honey to taste
- Place the oats in a large bowl and stir through the milk and yogurt. Cut apples into quarters, leaving the skin on, coarsely grate. Toss in the lemon juice and stir into the oat mixture.
- Stir through the sultanas and dried pears. When ready to serve scatter over the nuts and seeds. Divide among two bowls. Top with some sliced apple and a drizzle of honey to serve.
- Note: Vary the seeds according to your preference.