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It's apple season! Celebrate with two special apple events and enjoy some appley treats today!

Everyone is familiar with the saying: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and September is a great month to put this sound advice into practice.

Reaching for an apple, rather than a less healthy snack such as crisps or cake, really could help keep you well – apples are full of anti-oxidants and vitamins, and are low in calories, high in fibre and virtually fat-free.

International Eat An Apple Day is celebrated annually on the third Saturday in September – 16 September this year. There are more than 2,000 different varieties of British apples available, so it's an ideal opportunity to try something new.

Above: Pitmaston Pineapple

Heritage apple varieties include Ashmead's Kernel – originating in the early 1700s, it's one of the UK's oldest varieties. Then there's Egremont Russet, a type that's over 100 years old, with rough, russet skin and a sweet nutty flavour. Or you could try Pitmaston Pineapple: a small, yellow apple that tastes of (you guessed it) pineapples.

These older varieties often have better flavour and texture than supermarket apples – which are frequently imported from far-flung destinations such as New Zealand and South Africa.

Choosing British apples instead of imported fruits helps support our farmers – and this is especially important with homegrown fruit, as the UK has lost around two-thirds of its orchards in the last few decades. This loss has had an impact on wildlife too, as orchards are fantastic habitats for all sorts of creatures – from bees and butterflies to birds and bats.

With fewer food miles involved to get the fruits from field to fork, choosing local or British apples is better for the environment too. Look out for different varieties at Farmers' Markets and farm shops.

Celebrating Apple Days

International Eat An Apple Day celebrates the humble apple and encourages people to enjoy this fruit at a time when it's at its seasonal best.

Apples are delicious just as they are, but there are many other ways to enjoy them – from sauces and salads to cookies and cakes.

Try slicing apples and dipping them in peanut butter for a protein-packed snack. They're also tasty served alongside carrot sticks and pepper strips, to dunk into dips such as hummus and tzatziki.

Classic desserts such as crumbles, cobblers, pies and pastries often feature apples – and apples are delicious paired with dates, sultanas, cinnamon, or caramel.

A speedy apple pastry can be made by spreading apricot jam onto small squares of ready-rolled puff pastry. Top with thin slices of apple, and a sprinkling of sugar and mixed spice, and bake at 200°C for 10 minutes.

Stewing and freezing apples is a great way to preserve them for the winter months ahead – simply defrost for a quick pie or crumble, or add to your morning porridge.

Apples work well in savoury dishes, too. They're perfect with pork, but can also be

added to a chicken casserole along with cider and cream, or to a curry along with a handful of sultanas.

Apples can add a healthy crunch to salads – try rocket, chopped apples and shaved parmesan, topped with toasted pine nuts. Or combine chunks of apple and celery with pecans and raisins, and serve with a blue cheese dressing.

Next month, there'll be more opportunities to celebrate this special fruit with Apple Day, on 21 October.

Launched in 1990 by Common Ground, Apple Day is an autumn holiday that allows communities to come together to celebrate our wonderful and diverse British apple heritage.

Local events on and around the day often include activities organised by the Women's Institute, National Trust, and Wildlife Trusts, as well as shops, community orchards, and schools.


Celebrations include tastings, juicing, baking, and apple-related games such as apple bobbing, and there is often entertainment on hand such as live music and Morris dancing.

Apple frangipane tart

For the pastry:

225g plain flour

170g butter

1 egg yolk

1 dessertspoon caster sugar

2 tablespoons cold water

pinch of salt

For the filling:

30g butter

2 eating apples

1 tablespoon soft brown sugar

150g butter, softened

150g caster sugar

3 eggs, beaten

150g ground almonds

To make the pastry, put all the ingredients into a food processor and mix, in short bursts, until the pastry begins to form a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, then roll out onto a floured surface. Put into a greased 25cm flan dish and trim any excess pastry from the edges. Return to the fridge for a further 20 minutes.

Quarter, peel and core the apples and cut them into thin (2mm) slices. Heat 30g butter in a large frying pan, add the apples, and cook gently for two minutes until they are just starting to soften and turn golden. Sprinkle with the dark brown sugar and continue to cook for another minute until the sugar has melted and the apples have started to caramelise, then remove from the heat.

To make the frangipane, beat together the butter and sugar, then gradually add the eggs, mixing well to form a smooth consistency. Finally, fold in the ground almonds.

Spread the frangipane mixture over the base of the pastry case, then arrange the cooked apple slices on top. Bake in a preheated oven at 160ºC for around 45 minutes – the top of the flan should be set, golden and slightly springy to the touch.

Serve with fresh cream, hot custard, or ice cream.

Spiced apple cake

250g dried fruit

2 eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped

100ml milk

125g butter, softened

125g caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten

175g self raising flour

50g ground almonds

2 teaspoon mixed spice

1 tablespoon apricot jam

1 tablespoon toasted flaked almonds

Put the apples and dried fruit into a bowl along with the milk and leave to soak while you make up the cake mixture. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, almonds and mixed spice. Add a little of the beaten egg to the creamed butter and sugar, then add a little of the flour mixture, and mix well. Continue to add the eggs and flour in this way, until all the ingredients are combined. Finally, stir in the fruit and milk.

Turn into a lined cake tin and bake at 150ºC for around 90 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden brown and firm to the touch (when a skewer is inserted into the centre of the cake, it should come out clean). Allow to cool, then turn out. Put the apricot jam into a small saucepan and warm gently until slightly runny, then push through a sieve to remove all the lumps. Brush the apricot glaze all over the top of the cake, then sprinkle the toasted almonds over the top.

Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the egg and vanilla essence. Add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix well. Stir in the oats and seeds, and finally the grated apple.

Place dessertspoonfuls of mixture onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, leaving space between them – they will spread a little during cooking. Flatten each cookie slightly with the back of a fork, then bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC for about 10-15 minutes, until golden.

Apple seed cookies

Apples are naturally sweet, and adding them to cakes and biscuits means you can reduce the sugar – making treats like these cookies a little less naughty, but still very nice. The seeds are a good source of Omega 3 oils, zinc and magnesium.

100g butter, softened

70g soft dark brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

70g plain flour

pinch salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

75g porridge oats

25g pumpkin seeds

25g sunflower seeds

1 eating apple, peeled, cored and grated

Little Green Space September 2017