“I have so often heard Mr. Woodhouse recommend a baked apple. I believe it is the only way that Mr. Woodhouse thinks the fruit thoroughly wholesome.”
-Emma, Jane Austen
As I reached for a bag of Pink Lady’s from my fridge, I thought, I wonder what apples were available in Jane Austen’s time? We often think of apples, as just apples, and maybe even assume that what we eat everyday, is what others reach for around the world. To give you an idea, shopping at my regular grocery store, I can buy:
- Pink Lady (which I use for this recipe), an apple created here in WA in the 1970s
- Granny Smith, created in Australia in 1868
- Jazz, created in New Zealand apple in 2007
- Royal Gala, created in New Zealand in 1970,
- Fuji, created in Japan in 1930 and
- Red Delicious, made in US (Iowa) in 1870.
Definitely none of the apples would’ve been available during Jane Austen’s time!
From what I can gather, during the time Jane wrote her novels (early 1800s), these are a few of the following apples that would have been available in the UK:
- Bramley (a good possibility, and still easily available in the UK today)
- Blenheim Orange (supposedly good for cooking)
- Ribston Pippin (best for eating) ← on a side note, this apple was mentioned in other literature including The Adventure of Black Peter/Sherlock Holmes) and The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
- Warner’s King (only for cooking)
Whichever apple you decide to use, choose one that’s best for cooking– firm, sweet and tart. For an incredibly simple recipe, this is a delicious and easy dessert, with no other ingredients or toppings required.
- 4 apples
- 8-12 cloves
- ½ cup raw (course) sugar
- peel from one lemon, finely chopped
- ½ cup red wine
- Preheat your oven to 200-220°C/400-425° F.
- Wash and core your apples, discarding the centre.
- Place the apples in a baking tray.
- Pour the raw sugar over the apples, then the red wine.
- Top each apple with 2-3 cloves per apple, and a little bit of peel.
- Place in the oven for one hour.
- Remove from the oven.
- Any excess syrup, pour into a small jug and spoon over the apples once served.
Don’t miss these other literary inspired recipes