It’s orchard fruit season! Trees are full of plump, luscious plums, crisp apples and sweet-scented pears. While these precious crops are at their peak, don’t let them go to waste – they can be enjoyed in sweet and savoury recipes that will see you through the autumn.
Apples and pears are not just good for us, either. Traditional organic orchards are real wildlife havens, recognised as a UK priority habitat. Resembling ancient woodland pastures, they are home to similar wildflowers, animals and insects, from bats to beetles.
Conventionally grown (non organic) apples and pears are some of the most highly pesticide contaminated crops, so biting into organic fruit instead is a great way to avoid pesticides, support biodiversity and protect pollinators.
So how to eat them?
Baked apples with crumble filling is just about the easiest, most comforting seasonal dessert that will scent your home with mouth-watering spiced apple aroma while they cook.
4 large apples
apple juice (or you can use water)
For the crumble filling:
50g unsalted butter, softened
50g soft brown sugar
20g porridge oats
20g walnuts, chopped
20g raisins, chopped
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees/Gas 4. Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl.
2. Core the apples using a paring knife. Next use a teaspoon to carefully scoop out any remaining seeds and very centre of the apple, leaving around 2cm of the bottom intact.
3. Stuff each apple with the filling mixture and place them in a baking dish. Pour apple juice into the dish to help steam while cooking and prevent them from drying out.
4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until soft and slightly brown. The time will depend on the size and variety of the apples.
5. Serve warm with a drizzle of the cooked apple juice and ice cream or yoghurt
Not just for dessert, pears work so well in salad. Cut into a dice, slices or thin matchsticks – use them slightly under-ripe when not too sweet. Try a combo of hazelnuts, blue cheese and bitter salad leaves, with a simple dressing.
A pear, beetroot, red cabbage and onion slaw, dressed with crème fraîche and mustard, is a wonderful seasonal side, or for a beautiful brunch make some easy herby ricotta, pear and pistachio flatbreads. For the recipe, click here.
Plums were one of the first fruits humans domesticated, with a wide range of varieties that originated in Eastern Europe and China. A brilliant balance of sweet, sour and tart flavours, after you’ve eaten your fill straight from the fruit bowl, try poaching with honey and vanilla, simmering into a compote or heaping in a pie or crumble.
They work beautifully with bold spices such as ginger or cardamom. Try whipping them into a low energy no-bake dessert like plum and cardamom cheesecake, or enjoy in colourful savoury spiced plum and tofu skewers, quick to cook on a hot griddle pan and served with a spicy, rich, miso and sriracha sauce.
Preserving plums in syrup with lemon peel and cinnamon is an easy way to enjoy them all year round. They make a great addition to breakfasts or desserts – click here for how to make.