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Apples: Eve »

Apples Braeburn

Malus domestica


Description

Everybody loves a fresh, crispy apple. Whether it’s a quick snack or the basis of a delicious baked treat, apples are one of the most easily available and popular types of fruit out there.

There are more than 7000 known cultivars or subspecies of apples, with different cultivars developed for different climates and purposes. Many have been developed for eating, others for cider, others for cooking, and still others for disease resistance, yield, ease of shipping, and flavour. Most apples we buy in the supermarket are developed to give the best commercial return, but some older, more unusual varieties can sometimes be found through independent growers.

Braeburn is a seriously popular apple. It makes up 40 percent of New Zealand’s entire apple production, and since its introduction in the 1950s has become a standard for all other apple varieties. It’s a crisp, juicy apple with a sharp tang and a sweet flavour that stops the sharpness from being overpowering.

Apples will give you some vitamin C, but their real value is in their fibre content. Fibre plays a very important role in bowel health, reducing the risk of colon cancer, and it also helps lower cholesterol by preventing re-absorption. Apples are a good source of antioxidants, which may help prevent other types of cancer as well.

Choose firm apples with good colouring. Avoid apples with bruising or weeping patches – they’ll destroy your fruit bowl, and a bruised apple will give off more ethylene gas, ripening the rest of your fruit too quickly. They’ll keep for quite a while in the fridge, but are best fresh.

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History

The apple tree may well have been the first fruit tree to be cultivated. Originating in or around Turkey, over the centuries thousands of varieties have been developed through cross-pollination.

Apples have long played a role in the culture of human civilisations: they’re associated with the Forbidden Fruit in the Bible story of Adam and Eve, although the fruit itself is never actually mentioned; in Ancient Greece it was considered to be sacred to the goddess Aphrodite; and in Norse mythology they’re connected to fertility and everlasting youth.

Braeburn apples were discovered in New Zealand in the 1950s, and were named after the Braeburn Orchards in Nelson, where they were first grown commercially. It’s thought that it came from a seedling of a variety called Lady Hamilton, possibly crossed with a Granny Smith, but the exact origins are still unclear. Before the Braeburn, apples tended to be uniformly coloured – typically green, yellow, or red – but this two-tone apple was a hit, and such colouring is now generally regarded as being almost crucial for commercial success.

Uses

Braeburn apples are good to use fresh or cooked. So get making crumbles, pies, muffins, cakes, and whatever else you like to do with apples.

Facts

At the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, apples are eaten with honey for a sweet new year.

Apples are high in pectin, and a lot of jam sold commercially is gelled using pectin from apples.

Like blackberries and raspberries, apples are a member of the rose (Rosaceae) family.

Ever bobbed for apples at Halloween? The tradition comes from a Pagan new year ritual, in which the first to catch an apple in their teeth was said to be the next to marry.

If you cut an apple in half crosswise, the core makes the shape of a five-pointed star.



Apples: Eve »

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