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I love our Community Orchard. It stands in an amazing position overlooking both the River Dart and the Britannia Royal Naval College, is host to a bucket load of wildlife and a couple of laps in the afternoon is enough to satisfy a small spaniel ! But best of all at this time of year there is an abundance (love that word) of fruit ripe for the picking.

Kept and maintained by a group of volunteers the paddocks contain about 130 apple trees providing over 50 different varieties of traditional West Country apples : Ironside, Manaccan Primrose, Veitch’s Perfection and Collogett Pippin are some of the delights on offer, although my personal favourite is the Pear Apple.

For me, picking the orchard fruit heralds the onset of Autumn and the start of crumble and pie season. But sometimes I do get a bit stuck for ideas as to what to do with all those apples I’ve collected … which was why the book “Apple” caught my eye. Written by James Rich, who has cider making in his blood, it’s not only a recipe book but a beautifully written homage to this humble fruit. And who knew that apple trees originated in Kazakstan !!

Split into 5 sections, most recipes are accompanied by suitable rustically styled photos and thankfully for a home cook like me not overly complicated. The slow-cooked pork and cider casserole was the first dish to grace our table – and was delicious – I should admit at this point that it was actually hubby that conjured it up. Unfortunately the apples he used turned to mush during the cooking but to be fair I hadn’t labelled my recent hoard so he had no idea what type he was using. In any case this just added to the flavour and it was an easy job to caramalize some in a pan to go on the top. The casserole was even better the day after when it made a rather tip top pie filling.

By stroke of luck we then went to dinner at foodie friend’s house and were served up not one but 3 of James’ recipes. Being BBQ experts they had rustled up his burgers substituting pork instead of turkey and what a burger!! Juicy, sweet and succulent with just the right amount of caramalization on the outside – I was hoping that hubby didn’t finish his so that I could ! These were accompanied by the Apple & Chilli Jelly and an Avocado & Apple Salad. The latter was a combination I never would have thought of but which really worked, the whole thing brought together by a super dressing of apple cider vinegar, honey, soy sauce & ginger.

She didn’t feel she could inflict an appley pudding on us as well (no idea why!!) but did say that she had baked the Toffee Apple Cake in the week and it was the best apple cake she’d ever made. So not to be outdone I rushed home to give it a whirl … she wasn’t wrong. Especially when served warm with ice cream and the toffee sauce swirled on top. It was so tempting that I forgot to take a photo of it so this one is Lynne’s too.

Lynne’s Toffee Apple Cake

Whereas some books languish on my shelves with only the occasional appearance this one will definitely get dog-eared and stained from frequent use. I already have my eye on the Sweet & Sticky Ribs for Sunday dinner and with Christmas on the horizon Apple Vodka is a no brainer. I also think the Orchard Cocktail may make it’s way onto hubby’s festive drink repertoire …

Published by Hardie Grant and available from all good bookshops

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BUY IF … you have fruit trees, a community orchard or just like apples!

MDD LIKES … that many of the recipes will become everyday favourites