Text & Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro, Sweden 2014
In Sweden nature offers an unexpected luxury – winter apples. These are apples that are not ripe enough to be picked before the the cold winter season has come and night temperatures are down to just above freezing.
Since this is a natural produce where we can’t do anything to hurry up the process of growing or ripenig, what’s to do is to just wait and see.
In this case, ripe enough for picking is not the same as ripe enough to eat. On the contrary, these apples need to be treated carefully like eggs, and to be cold stored and individually wrapped in paper. Treated in this way they can keep the entire winter and at some point in time ripen to an unrivaled sweetness and flavour.
If you have apples of your own or if you have generous neighbors who share their fruit harvests, eventually you are put in front of the choice of what to make out of them. And it is here that you can get really creative with what you want out of these winter apples! Besides polishing their natural waxy surface up to high gloss and decorate your Christmas tree with them as was done in olden days, the other options of use would be to eat them as they are, or cook something with them. Maybe prepare some apple sauce, make an apple pie or used them in savoury dishes.
Fruit and Honey Chicken
A craving for one evening was this fruit and honey chicken dish. Two large chickens were cut into pieces, then flavoured with salt and black pepper. Lemon slices and some apple wedges were added on top of the chicken. This was covered with butter and honey and baked in oven until the inner temperature of the chicken reaches to about 80 centigrades. The chicken, once cooled, can be served with rice and a yoghurt dressing prepared from the stock and the apple wedges from the tin.
Apple and pineapple Pork Cutlets
Around Christmas in Sweden, the high expectation from each and every family to be able to present a whole baked ham on the Christmas buffé, results in the abundance in availability of other parts of the pig at the local grocers. From the market – a couple of nice looking cutlets. A quick frying for surface and flavour, and then oven baked under a layer of fried onion, pineapple slices and apple wedges with some meat stock.
Cover with pineapple and wedges of winter apples
Cover with slices of pineapple and fried onion
Decorated with Calendula petals, a flower with numerous medicinal properties.
As a fitting decoration I sprinkled some fresh Calendula petals on top of the dish. This daisy looking flower has a light citrus flavour and is perfectly edible. Once it was called ‘the poor man’s saffron’ which I think adds to the appropriateness of this winter dish. Calendula is also considered a medical plant with a range of applications, from relieving hiccups to relieving the effects of being struck by lightning.
It was also only till now that I’ve found that Calendula petals combined quite well with winter apples, and pork.