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November - Apples

apple tree

British apples are now at their very best but sadly less than a third of the apples eaten in this country are grown here so do your bit for your health (apples are great sources of fibre and Vitamin C and are low GI so they help to keep blood sugars stabilised, energy levels high and hunger at bay) and the environment by only buying British apples this autumn. Better still, pick your own or beg, steal, borrow and scrump apples from friends and neighbours then peel, core and chop them, cook them in a large pan with a dash of water until softened and freeze them in foil trays for use in crumbles, pies, pork, apple and cider casseroles and even your own home-made apple sauce throughout the winter.

Treacle Toffee Apples:

With Halloween and bonfire night looming this month's page wouldn't be complete without a toffee apple recipe - and this really is one of the best. Forget those rock hard, artificially coloured additive laden supermarket versions made from out of season, flavourless, fluffy apples and treat yourself and your kids to the real, home-made, deal.

Once made and cooled, (assuming any survive long enough), wrap in brown paper and tie with raffia or brightly coloured ribbons to give as gifts at the end of your Halloween or bonfire party.

(Makes about 800g/1 ¾ lbs)

450g (1 lb) demerara sugar
75g (3 oz) butter
3 tbsp double cream
¼ tsp cream of tartar
100g (4 oz) black treacle
100g (4 oz) golden syrup
6 - 8 Cox's apples
6 - 8 wooden sticks (like ice-lolly sticks)

Push the wooden sticks halfway into the apples at the stalk end.

Put the sugar and water in a thick-bottomed pan and dissolve the sugar over a gentle heat.

Add the butter and syrup and bring to the boil. Boil without stirring until the toffee reaches the soft-crack stage (when a little of the syrup dropped in cold water separates into hard but not brittle threads or, if using a sugar thermometer when it reaches 132c/270f.

Remove from the heat then dip each apple into the toffee, one by one. Make sure each apple is well coated and leave to harden on a baking try lined with baking parchment. (For plain Treacle toffee without the apples simply pour into a greased 18cm (7 inch) square tin. Col for 5 minutes and mark into squares with an oiled knife when almost set. When set, break the toffee into squares and wrap in brown or greaseproof paper. Store in an airtight container.