Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Food and Drink

“A” is for apple appreciation



An apple a day may not keep the doctor completely away, but more and more scientific studies point to the health benefits of eating apples. Some of the latest demonstrate that apples show substantial benefits in preventing some cancers, notably colon and lung, as well as heart disease.

If that doesn’t convince you to grab an apple for a snack, then simply take a look at how beautiful they are this time of year. Fresh, ripe and naked, without their dip in the wax bath that packing houses use to keep them “fresh” in storage, apples in October are ripe for the taking.

I’m not sure why — they seem so commonplace? Old-fashioned? They’re tough on your gums if they aren’t healthy? Too messy? — but a lot of people have given up eating apples out of hand.

But not so apple-holics, like those participating in the UBC Apple Festival at the university’s Botanical Garden each October. This free event attracts crowds, both for the apples you can buy (they usually sell around 12,000 kilos) and the apple-insights you gain.

If you can’t find an apple you like, keep trying. There’s more to life than a Red Delicious or McIntosh, and I don’t mean your computer. The UBC festival alone sold 60 varieties; 200 different kinds of one-year-old apple trees were also available.

For some, the unique taste of an apple is so loaded with memories and goodness that they go to all kinds of lengths to graft and preserve a special tree. It may be one that grew in the yard next door when they were kids, or a neighbourhood favourite slated for the bulldozer.

If you’ve given up because every time you buy an apple it’s mealy or tasteless, try again. Look for fresh, unwaxed apples, especially those from local growers in Pemberton, Lillooet and the Okanagan. You’ll have way more luck if you go organic.

If you’re lucky you’ll be able to find some unusual varieties at Whistler, thanks to the efforts of former resident, Anthony Evans. Anthony, who now lives in Osoyoos with his wife, Diana, brings fresh, locally-grown apples, pears and other produce from the Okanagan to local restaurants and stores.

Some of the varieties he supplies you may not otherwise find so easily: Ambrosia (a chance seedling, like the Granny Smith in Australia, that was discovered growing in an orchard in Cawston in the Similkameen Valley), Snow, Winter Banana, the Aurora Golden Gala (bred right in Summerland) and even the Cox Orange Pippin, a distinctive small, fragrant yellow-fleshed apple, which dates back to the 1830s and is a favourite of anyone from England.