EUROPEAN APPLE MISSION: DISCOVER. CHOOSE. ENJOY.

IMG_4647Apple. Now that’s a word everyone knows (and no I am not talking about the Brand with a bite taken out of the apple as its logo!) – everyone has tasted it, everyone has smelled it, everyone has held it, everyone has bought one in their lifetime. It’s a fruit I think we all take for granted because it’s a fruit which we grew up eating; constantly being told how good it was for us. And as kids, we did what we did best – we scrunched up our noses, yet listened and ate it with a little measure of fuss – or at least I did!

So when a basket full of lovely bicolored (yes they spell ‘colour’ the American way) Gala apples arrived at my doorstep to herald European Apple Day in the UAE it raised a few questions. First I had never heard of ‘bicolored’ so that got me to research what it meant. And I had never heard of a day dedicated to European apples, and definitely not in the UAE. Turns out its not as complicated as it sounds.

Simply put, the word ‘bicolored’ is used when referring to apples characterized by a non-uniform skin color. Many bicolored apple varieties such as Gala, Champion, Idared, Ligol, Jonagored, Najdared and Gloster are grown in Europe.

A 3-year program under the aegis Bicolored Apples from Europe is underway which is sponsored by the European Union, Polish associations of orchard owners and fruit and vegetable distributors, and by the Polish Agricultural Market Agency to educate and introduce us to European apples in general (although there is a tilt towards Polish support, they are promoting Europe, not just Polish varieties).

The way that they have planned this Program is to assign each year with a campaign target – this year the focus word is “discover” – followed by “choose” and “enjoy” over the next two years. So how does this play out? They believe that the since European Apples are a newish concept for UAE customers, the first year will be a year of discovery, where consumers can get familiar with the look and feel of European apples. Over the next two years, they hope that the consumer will “choose” to buy them in year two of the campaign and simply “enjoy” them as a regular part of their diet by the 3rd year.

I believe European apples might be a tad cheaper than the ones we get from USA and Chile – simply because of logistics – from Europe the apples have a shorter distance to travel and hence shipment costs will be lower. The bicolored apples are available at the usual supermarkets that most of us frequent – Union Co-Op, Spinneys, Choithrams, Carrefour, Hyper Panda and Geant.

IMG_4665So I thought, why not present you with some Fun Fruit Facts:

  • The average person eats 65 apples a year.
  • There are more than 7,500 varieties of apples.
  • The apple tree is a member of the rose family.
  • When you eat an apple you are consuming a lot of air; 25% of their volume is air!
  • Apples have 5% protein.
  • Apple trees can live to be 100 years old!
  • The largest apple weighed three pounds.
  • In ancient Greece when a man proposed to a woman, he would toss her an apple and if she decided to catch it, it meant she accepted.
  • The original proverb about eating an apple a day, which came about in 1866, was: “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”
  • It takes the energy from 50 leaves to produce one apple.

Recipe: Delicious Cinnamon Baked Apples

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 large apples – peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons water (or apple juice) – add more if

Instructions:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a large baking dish with the butter.

Step 2: Mix brown sugar, vanilla sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Layer about 1/3 of the apples in prepared baking dish; sprinkle with 1/3 of the sugar mixture. Repeat layers twice more.

Step 3: Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Pour water/apple juice over apples and continue baking until tender, about 15 minutes more. If you feel the apples are not as tender, do add a little more water/ apple juice and let it cook for a few more minutes.

Big Bonus: Baking this dish will make your entire house smell amazing for hours.

Added tip: Apple skin can be the base for a flavourful tea drink. Add them to a cup of black or green tea. You can also put a handful of apple skins into a pot with water and boil them for 5-10 minutes. Add your favourite spices, e.g. cinnamon, cardamom or cloves and enjoy a gorgeous flavour and taste of apple tea!

Thought I would end on a light note. I have a new take on the oft said adage ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’:

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but if the doctor is cute, forget the fruit!

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