Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Apple Celebrations Have Extra Bite This Year; IN SEASON WITH LYNN BAYS, Head Chef at Souter Lighthouse

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Apple Celebrations Have Extra Bite This Year; IN SEASON WITH LYNN BAYS, Head Chef at Souter Lighthouse

Article excerpt

YOU'LL have noticed the farmers' markets and small independent fruit and vegetable shops filling up with lovely tart English apples now that autumn is kicking in.

The apple season culminates on October 21, which, fittingly, has for the last 21 years been designated Apple Day.

It's a celebration the National Trust embraces wholeheartedly and events to mark the occasion will be taking place at properties across the country, including at Souter Lighthouse.

We're marking October 21 by offering a range of apple dishes in our tearoom and coffee shop. One of them will be the potato and apple cake featured below.

It's an easy to make variation on the traditional apple pie. I have to admit when I came across this recipe my first thought was that potato made an unlikely and frankly odd addition to the traditional ingredients.

But having said that, potato flour is often used in Europe, so why should it be any different adding the real thing, albeit mashed? And after all, is it really any different to adding carrot, which has now become an accepted cake component? I always use Bramleys, a quintessentially British apple that is far and away the best for cooking.

But like all native apples, the Bramley is fighting for survival as orchards have been grubbed out to make way for far more lucrative cash cows (literally) and houses.

It's a common complaint that every day now seems to either have a cause attached to it or be a celebration of one kind or another. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am among the first to complain when I hear it's yet another "day", or week or month.

FOOD But Apple Day is one I do support. Because at its core - if you will excuse the pun - is the overriding need to preserve British apples and orchards.

FROM the William Tell swathed in folklore as the where would without the Isaac Newton theory of gravity? We are losing orchards at an alarming rate. The orchard area throughout England has declined by 63% since 1950. Wales lost 94% between 1958 and 1992.

In 2007 we imported 70% of our apples. Apples from the southern hemisphere and other faraway places fill our supermarket shelves - even in autumn, the height of our apple season.

These foreign interlopers aren't selected for their flavour, but for their longevity and ability to withstand travel.

I read somewhere there are a staggering 7,000 apple varieties - nearly 3,000 of which could at one time be found on our shores.

Some names, such as Bramley, Granny Smith, Cox's Orange Pippin, Egremont Russet, Elstar, Spartan and Worcester Pearmain, will be familiar. Others less so. A Lord Lambourne or an Ashmead Kernel anyone? Sadly few, if any, of these apples will appear on supermarket shelves, and even less will have been grown in the UK.

But thanks to initiatives like Apple Day, we have realised in the nick of time we were in danger of losing not only an important part of our heritage, but a versatile one.

Community orchards are now springing up across the country - many at National Trust properties. It's not just good news for people who enjoy local, seasonal fare, it's great for our wildlife which thrives around orchards. …

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