Red riding good: December 1 is celebrated as ‘Eat a Red Apple Day'

TNIE takes a look at the origin, health benefits and cultural references of this crunchy fruit.

KOCHI: Apples are the most widely produced fruits in the world after bananas, oranges and grapes. Though red apples may seem mundane, they have a rich history dating back to at least nine million years. Researchers suspect megafauna, meaning large animals like horses associated with the Ice Age dispersed its seeds.

The first modern apples were discovered in the Tien Shan mountains of Kazakhstan and seemingly reached other countries through the Silk Road trade route connecting the East and West, where farmers cultivated them through hybridisation. 

The edible fruit of the rose family entered the Indian soil much later. In the 20th century, Samuel Stokes, an American, grew them in the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh, giving Indians a taste of the crunchy, big red Himachali or Shimla apples. 

History also has it that the first apple trees were introduced to the region in the early 19th century by British colonisers and the first apple orchard in Himachal Pradesh was established in 1870 in the Kullu area. In the 1920s, the state became a major apple-growing region. 

In Kerala, several apple cultivation were experimented with, but many did not bear fruit (pun unintended) for varied reasons, including temperature. Kanthalloor, situated around 40km from Munnar, is the only place in Kerala to grow apples in abundance. 

An apple for all

Apples of any variety can make a healthy snack especially when smeared with nut butter: A healthy snack for those looking to cut down on oily and fried items. They also make a great ingredient for cookies, pies, salads, oatmeal, muffins, jam, and smoothies. They are also healthy (An apple a day keeps the doctor away, anyone?)

“Though I wouldn’t say apple is the lone fruit having every health benefits, it has its advantages. It is rich in nutrients, fibre, Vitamin C and Potassium and even has antioxidants like flavonoids. To get the most out of apples, it’s better to leave the skin on. However, for patients with kidney issues and those with high creatinine levels, it’s advised to remove the skin. Since apples are coated with synthetic wax – though food-grade – the wax may also contain fungicides to further protect the fruit. Soaking apples in salt and turmeric can reduce the negative effects to an extent,” says Rajiv Ambat, CEO and founder of NuvoVivo Center for Obesity, Lifestyle Disorders and Research. 

Cultural reference
Apples may be the only fruit to have frequently popped in literature and Western art. They are said to have started the Trojan War. The Norse gods owed their youth and immortality to goddess Idunn and her magical apples. Even the Arabian Nights has a reference where an apple from Samarkand was said to cure diseases. It is believed Issac Newton discovered gravity after watching an apple fall. The ‘forbidden fruit’ in the Garden of Eden is believed to be an apple.

Apple Crumble Tart (serves 1)

Recipe by: District 7 Encore 
Shortcrust Tart 
Icing sugar - 25 gms
Unsalted butter - 25 gms
Full egg - 10 gms
Refined flour - 35 gms
Almond powder - 10 gms
Vanilla essence - 1 ml
Metal tart mould 3.5 inch - 1
Almond Crumble 
Castor sugar - 10 gms
Unsalted butter - 10 gms
Refined flour - 15 gms
Almond powder - 5 gms
Red Food Gel Color - 1 drop (Optional)
Apple filling 
Unsalted butter - 20 gms
Castor sugar - 30 gms
Cinnamon powder - a pinch
Red Peeled Apples (chopped into cubes)- 1

Tart Pastry 

Whisk the butter and sugar together until no granules are seen. Add egg and vanilla essence slowly into the mixture and continue to cream gently. Mix the refined flour and almond powder together and fold into the creamy butter mix. 
Fold the tart dough into the mould, press down and sheet the mixture tightly into the case as per the mould. Flatten the bottom and edges to a 1-inch thickness. Set aside. 

Apple Filling 
Melt the butter in a saucepan at low heat. Add the castor sugar into the butter when fully melted and stir it well. Then add some cinnamon powder to it. Add the apple cubes to the hot mix and sauté well. Stir till the water content from the apples has evaporated thoroughly (usually 10 to 15 mins depending on the apples). Sauté till the mixture is gooey and chunky. Cool the mixture at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Pour the apple filling into the mould stacked with the tart dough. Set aside.

Almond Crumble
Add all the ingredients into a cold bowl. The mixture should be in the form of small uneven balls. Place these balls on top of the filled tart mould. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Bake the apple tart in the oven for 30 mins. Once baked set aside to cool. 

Top with icing sugar as required (Use a strainer for ease)

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Goat cheese apple salad

Recipe by Chef Arun Vijayan 

Mixed microgreens: 15  gm
Dried apricot slices: 10 gm
Walnuts: 10 gm
Pomegranate molasses: 5 ml
Goat cheese : 20 gm
Apple wedges: 90 gm

Mix all the ingredients together and gently arrange the mix in a salad bowl

Apple Pie Cupcakes 

Recipe by Sarah Zia Adeel, founder of Fluff In A Cup 

Vanilla Cupcakes (makes 10 cupcakes roughly)
Salted butter-- 100gm
Caster sugar/powdered sugar-- 100gm
Eggs -- 2
Baking powder-- 1 tsp
Start by beating the butter and sugar together until creamy and smooth. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Now add the dry ingredients and make a creamy batter. The batter is generally thick. Fill in 3/4th of the cupcake case and bake at 180 degrees for 20-30 mins. 

Apple Pie filling

Apple-- 1, Sugar-- 1 tbsp, Cinnamon powder-- 1/2 tsp, Butter--  2 tbsp, Flour-- 1 tsp
Start by melting butter, add chopped apples, sugar and cinnamon. Cook until the apples are tender. Once it is cooked, add flour dissolved in water. Make a centre and fill it with the filling.
Cinnamon Buttercream (Apple Pie Cupcakes)
This works very well for 10 cupcakes
Unsalted butter-- 100 g 
Icing sugar -- 200 g ( you cannot substitute for powdered sugar)
Vanilla extract or essence
Cinnamon powder--  1 tsp
Make sure your butter is not melted and your icing sugar is well-sieved. Start by creaming the butter and gradually adding sugar to it until you get a good thick consistency for frosting. Add cinnamon at the end.

Apple & Cinnamon French Toast 

Recipe by French Toast 
Cinnamon walnut bread- 2 thick slices
Milk--100 ml
Caster sugar--3 tbsp
Cinnamon powder--1/4 tsp
Green/Fuji apple--1 
100% apple juice---30 ml

Method: Make the custard mix with milk, egg, 1.5 tbsp of sugar and 1/8 tsp of cinnamon powder. Soak the bread and keep it aside for 10 minutes for the best custardy toast. While the bread is getting soaked, peel the skin of the apple and slice it into 16 pieces. Caramelise apple with 1.5 tbsp sugar and 20 gms of butter. Add the rest of the cinnamon powder and apple juice. Cook it till it gets a saucy texture ( enough to coat the back of a spoon) Toast the bread in a well-seasoned pan on medium heat until it gets a slight crust outside custardy on centre. Plate the bread and pour the sauce over.

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