Indigenous Ingredients | Apple

Swiss varieties of Gala and Glockenäpfel

The apple is full of acids, carbo-hydrates, minerals and vitamins … and stories. From Sinful Eve to Snow White, this juicy fruit is steeped in traditions that go back a very long time. One of the oldest cultivated foods, its association with the emotions and symbols of life is not surprising because it is also versatile. Green or red, sour or sweet, the colour and taste of the apple suggests temptation.

The ascent of the apple in Europe is believed to be the consequence of invading soldiers spitting out the pips, and the beneficial actions of birds and insects who, like growing children, crave the fruit’s energy-giving properties.

Apple plantations represent the essential elements of biodiversity like no other cultivated food. Left alone they will return to nature. Despite the wild crab apple native to the eastern Mediterranean and domesticated 5000 years ago, almost all European apples are related to the cultivated varieties, as the selective list shows (country of origin in parenthesis).

Now the quest to grow a versatile apple with organoleptic qualities is more pressing than ever. Cooking apples have been acidic and tart, eating apples sour or sweet with insufficient crunch and ample juiciness.


French varieties of Elstar and Royal Gala

  • Akero sweet (Swedish)
  • Alexander acidic (Ukrainian)
  • Ananas Reinette sweet (Dutch)
  • Boskoop sour-sweet (Dutch)
  • Braeburn sweet-sour (New Zealand)
  • Bramley tart-acidic (English, Ireland)
  • Cox‘s Orange Pippin sour-spicy (English)
  • Elstar sour (Dutch)
  • Fuji sweet (Japzanese)
  • Gala sweet (New Zealand)
  • Glockenäpfel sweet-acidic (Swiss)
  • Golden Delicious sweet-acidic (American – Europe’s most cultivated apple)
  • Gravenstein sour-spicy (Danish)
  • Jonagold semi-sour (American, crossed Golden Delicious and Jonathan)
  • Kiku sweet (Italian, from Japanese Fuji)
  • Idared semi- sour (American, from Jonathan, a variety now almost extinct)
  • Maigold du Valais sweet-sour (Swiss)
  • Mairac sweet-sour (Swiss, crossed Gala and Maigold)
  • Pink Lady sweet (Australian, crossed Lady Williams and Golden Delicious)
  • Pinova sweet-sour (east German)
  • Red Delicious sweet (American)
  • Reinette du Canada sour (French)
  • Reine des Reinettes sweet-acidic (French)
  • Topaz sweet-sour (Czech, crossed Rubin and Vanda)


Armagh Bramley Apples N. IRELAND Bramley (PGI)

Hessischer Apfelwein GERMANY Hessen cider (PGI)

Maçã Bravo de Esmolfe PORTUGAL Bravo de Esmolfe (PDO)

Maçã da Beira Alta PORTUGAL Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Jonared, Red Delicious, Reinetas, Starking (PGI)

Maçã da Cova da Beira PORTUGAL Golden Delicious, Jersey Mac, Red Delicious (PGI)

Maçã de Alcobaça PORTUGAL Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Pink, Red Delicious, Reineta (PGI)

Maçã de Portalegre PORTUGAL Bravo de Esmolfe (PGI)

Maçã Riscadinha de Palmela PORTUGAL Palmela (PDO)

Manzana de Girona / Poma de Girona SPAIN Golden Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith, Red Delicious (PGI)

Manzana Reineta de El Bierzo SPAIN Reineta Blanca, Reineta del Canada, Reineta Gris (PDO)

Mela Alto Adige / Südtiroler Apfel ITALY Braeburn, Elstar, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Idared, Jonagold, Morgenduft, Red Delicious, Stayman Winesap, Pinova, Topaz (PGI)

Mela di Valtellina ITALY Gala, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious

Mela Rossa Cuneo ITALY Red Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Braeburn (PGI)

Mela Val di Non ITALY Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Renetta del Canada (PGI)

Milo Kastorias GREECE Starking, Starkrimson, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Granny Smith (PGI)

Pommes des Alpes de Haute Durance FRANCE Gala, Golden Delicious (PGI)

Pomme du Limousin FRANCE Golden Delicious (PDO)

Pommes de Savoie FRANCE Reine des Reinettes, Elstar, Delgollune, Gala, Delcorf, Pinova, Fuji, Suntan, Initial, Pilot, Belle de Boskoop, Dalinco and Opal (PGI)

Rheinisches Apfelkraut GERMANY apple and pear syrup (PGI)

Zagoras Piliou GREECE Starking Delicious (PDO)


The pride of Prague – an apple dish like no other, see jablková žemlovka below

Apfel, Rhabarber und Ingwer Streusel
apple, rhubarb and ginger crumble

Fruit crumble is associated with Britain and Ireland, with Scandinavia, especially Sweden, with the Flemish regions of Belgium and the Netherlands, and with Germany. Apple, apricot, plum, rhubarb and strawberry crumbles are the most popular, and some crumbles include a variation of fruit.

Rhubarb arrived in Europe from Asia around the same time that spices were being liberally used in monastic kitchens, which tended to include garden fruits as well as herbs and vegetables in their larders.

The combination of butter, flour, nuts, spices and sugar known as streusel in Germany generally included cinnamon, one of the spices heavily traded by the Venetians of the 1200s when rhubarb appeared.

Mixing ground cinnamon and ground ginger into the crumble or streusel certainly caught on in the countries where these spices were commonplace. The marriage of crystallised root ginger with rhubarb may have Arab (Moorish) origins, the recipe making its way north when ginger nuts in syrup became widely available, bearing in mind that this is both an African and Asian delicacy.


  • 220 g white wheat baking flour
  • 100 g brown sugar
  • 100 g butter
  • 15 g walnuts, crushed
  • 10 g ground ginger
  • 5 g ground cinnamon


  • 1 kg forced garden rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 500 g sour apples, cored, cubed large
  • 10 ginger nuts in syrup, diced small
  • 75 g brown sugar
  • 1 orange, juice
  • 5 rosemary spears, chopped small

In a large bowl combine all the filling ingredients, leave for 24 hours stirring occasionally. Rub butter into flour, stir in nuts, spices and sugar. Preheat oven to 190°C. Spoon fruit mixture into a baking dish, cover with crumble. Bake for 60 minutes.

apple pastry

The ascent of strudel was thought to have reached its nadir when this delicate pastry came to epitomise the Viennese kitchen in the 1800s.

The thinly drawn dough that makes the strudel iconic has its origins in ancient Assyria. It was associated with the Ottoman Turks and the Spanish Moors, and known as ‘Spanish Dough’ in cookbooks of the 1700s. By then it was an established aspect of pastry baking throughout the period of the Austro-Hungarian empire, moving westwards from Budapest to Vienna and Salzburg.

The strudel went through various changes until it started to resemble a coiled pastry. Fillings included beans, cheese, fruit, gourds, leaf and root vegetables, meat, nuts and seeds and rice.

When Anna Dorn mentioned ‘solid apple strudel‘ in the Great Viennese Cookbook in 1827, the strudel had been boiled and baked over open fires for 200 years.

Strudel cookery changed with the emergence of oven baking and white flour. The translucent dough became crispy, and the apple strudel became legendary.

Ground cinnamon, soaked raisins and toasted breadcrumbs (from kipfel bread) complimented the tart apple filling to produce a sweet-sour taste.

In Vienna sour cream was added to accentuate that sourness.

In Salzburg the apfelstrudel was sweetened and softened with warm milk.

In Berlin kirsch was added to the raisins and walnuts were included in the filling.

Sugar was used to offset the acidity of the tart apples, which included a range that became known as ‘strudler apples’.

Gradually, throughout the 20th century, apfelstrudel epitomised the art of Viennese patisserie, and its Assyrian, Arabian, Moorish and Turkish origins were forgotten.

This is old style strudel.


  • 300 g strong white wheat flour
  • 160 g water
  • 30 g oil
  • Salt, large pinch


  • 1.5 kg sour apples, peeled, cored, cut into 3 mm slices
  • 250 ml sour cream (optional)
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 125 g breadcrumbs
  • 125 g raisins
  • 90 g butter


  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 60 g butter

Combine flour, salt, oil and water, knead into a smooth dough, cover with cling-film, leave for 45 minutes.

Melt butter in frying pan, increase heat, fry breadcrumbs. Remove from heat, mix in sugar.

Place dough on a floured cloth, roll out until transparent. Preheat oven to 220°C.

Spread sweetened breadcrumbs and raisins along a third of the dough. Arrange apple slices on top. If using cream spoon onto apples. Dress the other two-thirds of dough with melted butter.

Using the cloth, fold the buttered dough over the filled dough, seal at ends, brush surface with melted butter.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Take out and brush with remaining butter.

Bake for 15 minutes.

While strudel is warm, sprinkle with icing sugar.

Baked Apples

Apples baked with various fillings, typically raisins or sultanas with a sweet medium, are a winter treat throughout northern and western Europe.

In France the filling is butter and caster sugar.

In Germany the filling usually consists of nothing more than a red jam, but the apples are baked in a mixture made from whisked egg yolks, sugar and water, whisked egg whites, almonds and flour.

In Scotland the filling is sultanas and sugar with golden syrup poured over the tops of the apples.

In Sweden, ground almonds are mixed with egg white, sugar and water to produce a paste that goes into the cavity and over the apples.

  • 8 sour apples, whole, cored, soaked until needed
  • 200 g raisins
  • 45 g syrup / honey
  • 30 g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Butter, for greasing
  • 150 ml water (optional)

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Mix raisins, sugar, syrup and cinnamon in a bowl.

Pack apples together in a buttered baking dish. Fill apple cavity with raisin mixture. For softer apples pour some water into dish.

Bake until tender, between 25-45 minutes depending on apple type and size.

Serve with custard.

Beignets de Pommes
battered apple rings

  • 1.5 litre vegetable oil
  • 4 large crunch, sweet apples, peeled, cored, cut into rings
  • 250 g flour
  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 50 g butter (optional)
  • 30 ml milk


  • 100 ml Belgian beer
  • 50 ml brandy
  • 10 g yeast
  • Salt
  • Fruit jelly

Dissolve yeast in warm milk.

Sift flour into a bowl, make a well, add the egg yolks, then the yeast mixture and beer. Whisk into the flour to make a batter. Add salt.

Cover the bowl and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Prepare the apples, douse with brandy, dust with sugar.

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan or deep frier, around 170°C.

Beat sugar into the egg whites until stiff, gently fold into the batter. Dip apple rings in the batter, removing them with a skewer into the oil.

Test and adjust the heat.

The donuts will rise when they are nearly cooked, about eight minutes.

Turn to ensure an even colour. They should be golden brown.

Drain on paper towels.

Dust with sugar. Serve with fruit jelly.

Jablková Žemlovka
apple loaf

Served as a main course in Prague restaurants, this apple, bread and cheese concoction deserves its place among the iconic traditional dishes of Europe.

Traditionally made with day-old bread, the new tradition is to bake bread specifically for the purpose of producing long thin loaves that can be sliced into small rounds for this dish.

Cottage cheese replaces butter in the original recipe.

The white foam is a flourish that is more than mere decoration, but it adds a degree of difficulty.

Clever cooks bake the dish in a low oven, then add the foam and blast the heat to achieve a crispy crunchy topping.

  • 1 kg sweet apples, peeled and cored
  • 500 ml milk
  • 250 g cottage cheese, crumbled
  • 175 g white bread, sliced into thick rounds, cut into squares
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 125 g raisins
  • 60 g vanilla sugar
  • 45 g breadcrumbs
  • 30 g icing sugar
  • 10 g cinnamon
  • Butter, for greasing

Prepare the apples, keep in water until ready to use. Soak raisins in some of the milk, about an hour. Then soak the rounds of bread in milk.

Separate the eggs, mixing the yolks with icing sugar and cheese.

Whisk the egg whites with the vanilla sugar.

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Grease an ovenproof baking dish, dust with breadcrumbs. Lay the bread on top of the breadcrumbs. Grate the apples onto the bread, dust with cinnamon and half the raisins. Place the remaining bread on top, followed by the remaining apples, grated or sliced, the cinnamon and raisins. Pour in the cheese mixture evenly across the surface.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove and gently spoon the egg foam over the top, making peaks with a fork.

Turn oven up to 210°C and bake for a further 15 minutes.


Cholera – the apple pie that saved a valley

Apfelrösti SWITZERLAND pan-fried apples
Apfelsalat LIECHENSTEIN apple salad
Apfelstrudel AUSTRIA apple pastry
Baked Apples EUROPE
Cholera SWITZERLAND pie with apples, cabbage, onions, pears, potatoes
Chräpfli SWITZERLAND apple pastry
Gaufres avec Pomme et de Poire Sirop BELGIUM waffles with apple and pear sauce
Jablkova Zemlovka CZECH REPUBLIC apple and bread pudding
Kartoffeln mit Äpfeln und Bratwürst GERMANY potatoes with apple and sausage
Kartoffelpuffer / Reiberdatschi mit Apfelmus GERMANY potato pancakes with apple sauce
Mischleta SWITZERLAND apple, cheese, corn and potato gratin
Oie Rôtie aux Fruits FRANCE roast goose with apple, pear, dried apricot, prune
Roast Pork and Apple Sauce with Crackling ENGLAND DENMARK
Sellerie Apfel Salad GERMANY SWITZERLAND apple and celery salad
Sellerie Apfel Suppe GERMANY SWITZERLAND apple, celery and walnut soup
Stamppot Hete Bliksem NETHERLANDS apple / pear and potato with crispy bacon / chicken liver / minced meat
Torta di Mele ITALY apple / pear sponge
Tufahije BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA stuffed apples