West Dean set for a very fruity affair

Rosemary Moon is running cookery courses at West Dean
Rosemary Moon is running cookery courses at West Dean
Portsmouth & Southsea railway station by Andy Cooper

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Rosemary Moon has just been grating apple onto her cheese on toast.

It seems the UK’s most popular fruit isn’t just for munching after lunch, or encasing in pastry for a classic British pud.

But come apple season, the Chichester-based food author and cook is also very fond of doing those things too.

‘We’ve had such a fantastic crop this year, I just want to put them in absolutely everything,’ declares Rosemary, setting aside her preparations for an appley lunch.

It has been a great year for apples, especially the Cox variety. The cold, hard winter with few warm spells, followed by warmer weather up until June, has provided favourable conditions for orchard-owners.

That means the annual Apple Affair at West Dean Gardens, near Chichester, should provide extra rich pickings this year.

Rosemary will be at the event on October 1 and 2, making preserves and other recipes, and challenging chef Giles Thompson to the pair’s annual apple pie competition.

‘It’s a case of the chef versus the cook and the audience gets to judge. I’ve won twice so Giles has to try to redeem himself this year,’ says Rosemary mischievously.

The event will also feature cakes, biscuits, juices, ciders, games, music and of course juicy, plump uncooked apples.

Rosemary believes it’s a fruit definitely worth celebrating. She suggests slicing cooking apples and adding them to a pan of sausages, squash and onion.

‘They go down to a sauce and taste great with the sausages and veg,’ she adds.

She also recommends creating dishes with eating apples. ‘They won’t cook down in the same way as a Bramley, but dice them and cook them with a little bit of butter and then add to cooking apples and sugar and you get a puree with chunks. They give more texture.’

At the West Dean event, Rosemary will also be using the popular orchard fruit to make a curry raita.

And she loves using apples to create a delicious juice. ‘Get a juice extractor and mix apples and carrot with fresh ginger. It makes a fantastic breakfast or lunch,’ she recommends.

Rosemary is delighted that more people seem to be cooking with apples now that home baking and traditional, simple recipes are on the rise.

‘We’re going back to a 1950s mentality. People don’t have as much money and they’re enjoying spending time at home with friends and cooking for each other. It’s a community thing. And of course there are well-known apple recipes that are simple to make.’

The Apple Affair at West Dean is open from 10.30am until 5pm each day. Tickets cost £8 for adults, £7.50 for over-60s, £4 for children and £20 for a family of four, including two children under the age of 15. Visit westdean.org,uk for more.