A few weeks ago, a group of wonderful fellow food bloggers and I were given the opportunity to travel to Bilpin in appreciation of all things Apples! We don’t often eat apples in our household largely due to my love of berries and Scotty’s love of bananas so I welcomed the opportunity to learn a little more about the growing and harvesting process of this well known fruit and the range of apples grown in Australia.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the benefits of eating local and supporting Australian growers. Fruit in Australia often travels a long way to get to us thanks to the competitive price wars between our two major supermarket chains. This seriously affects the quality of fruit by the time it reaches us, so not only is it good to support local business, but it also tastes better when supporting local growers.
Our group visited two wonderful growers, second generation growers Joe and Lily Saliba at Saliba Fruits and Cedric at Bilpin Springs Orchard, a wonderful pick your own orchard (offering up much more than just apples).
At Saliba Fruits we got an insight into how this 35 year old family business from humble beginnings grows, picks and packs exceptional apples and stone fruit for sale to consumers with one of Sydney’s best quality harvests. They have a same day pick and pack policy at the orchard and it was wonderful seeing the process.
Joe and Lilly clearly have a deep love of their orchard and their energy was infectious. I found myself desperately wanting to bite into a freshly picked apple after seeing them spinning and whirling around us as they were washed, sorted, graded and packed. Luckily we didn’t have to wait long till we were handed apples to eat. It was without the shadow of a doubt the best apple I’ve ever eaten in my life. We learnt so much about the process and each left with a box of gorgeous apples as well as a greater appreciation for the Aussie Apple.
We then jumped back in the cars and headed to Bilpin Springs Orchard. When we arrived at the orchard we were greeted by large groups of adults and children sporting big beaming smiles and baskets full of fruit. It was an extremely hot day so we were rewarded with a cool glass of fresh cloudy apple juice and a great welcome from Cedric upon arrival.
The system at this orchard is simple. You are given a basket fitting 10kg worth of fruit and you can pick anything you like form the fruit marked with a “tick”. Fruit is charged per kilogram and it is weighed after the picking. Fruit not ticked isn’t available for picking at the time as it takes them all year to prepare a single crop for picking. This is the orchard’s primary source of income so following the rules is important and it seems everyone is happy to obey.
Each group of guests is taken into the orchard when they arrive and shown the best way to pick each fruit based on the variety. We wandered to the apple orchard where Cedric showed the simple way to rest the apples in your palm and twist to release the fruit. We strolled around the trees laughing, photographing and storing freshly picked apples in our darling baskets.
On the way home with a car full of apples and cloudy apple juice we all mused on the wonderful recipes we would make with our fresh Aussie Apples. I knew instantly that I wanted to make Frittelle di Mele. These Italian apple fritters taste like doughnuts with a core of apple and are as good as they sound. They are shallow fried (which means no scary deep frying) and then lightly coated in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. They also cook quickly so that the apple core is soft but still with a slight bite.
I served them up to a group of friends who instantly went back for seconds and thirds. All self-control goes out the window with these fritters so be prepared to over-indulge!
Next time you have apples on your shopping list, be sure to buy the ones with the Aussie Apples stickers. This is a sign that they are sourced from a grower close to home and haven’t travelled across oceans to get to you.
Frittelle di Mele (Apple Fritters)
150 grams of Italian 00 flour (or plain white flour)
1 egg yolk and 2 egg whites
Pinch of salt
30 grams of caster sugar
8 small Aussie Apples (or 4 large apples)
Oil for shallow frying
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
In a bowl whisk together the egg yolk, milk, flour and a pinch of salt until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to stand for 30 minutes.
Peel the apples and remove the core, then cut apples into slices about 1cm thick.
After 30 minutes, in another bowl beat the two egg whites till frothy, then continue to beat while slowly adding the caster sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Add the egg whites to the first mixture and fold together gently using a wooden spoon.
In a bowl mix the sugar and cinnamon till well combined then set aside.
Preheat 1/2 cm oil in a large frypan over medium high heat (the oil is ready for frying when a drop of batter sizzles). Dip an apple slice into the batter coating evenly, then gently place into the frypan. Repeat with as many slices that fit comfortably in your frypan. Fry till golden on both sides then remove and coat in the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Repeat with the remaining batter and apple slices then serve warm.
Chew Town would like to thank Aussie Apples and Anna and Tegan form Bite Communications for arranging the trip to Bilpin and providing the apples for the development of this recipe.