Herb A-peel

We’ve made it. We have successfully crossed through the intersection of summer and into fall. So fasten your seatbelts as we head into the holidays! Up ahead, the first signpost reads “Halloween.” We’ll be there before you know it. Now's the time to enjoy Fall’s bounty of aromas and flavors with herbs! That is if the different viruses and maladies of the world will allow it.

The mind naturally conjures up an emoji of a carved, smiling pumpkin at the mention of Halloween. Being the quintessential October garden herb, after all, recipes for using pumpkin abound. But one special herb that is available year-round happens to be red. It’s the true fall harvest herb. It’s an apple! This year more than ever before, apples will take precedence in recipes and drinks of all kinds, decorations too.

Maybe you never think of our red friend as being herbal. But in defense, apples are extremely medicinal and a culinary treasure. Apples are valued presently and historically valued for flavor, fragrance, dyeing capabilities (the leaves, twigs, and bark are used) and are a boon to our economy. There are over 7,500 varieties in the world today, and that number increases yearly. Apples truly qualify as herbal and take autumn’s center stage this time of year.

Apples pair so well with other herbs and spices, some of which you may have in your own garden. Mint, sage, rosemary, anise, ginger, bay leaf, rose geranium, lemon balm, berries, celery, even okra, and cabbage love apples. The usual companion spices include cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom. But try caraway, coriander, Chinese five-spice, lavender, and vanilla bean for something different. And don’t forget potpourri!

Of the many ways to enjoy apples, who can resist a good “apple bob?” Typically played at Halloween, bobbing for apples was originally a romantic party game for single young men and women. Apples were marked beforehand with the name of each girl's potential sweetheart. As each person bobbed down to clinch the marked fruit with their teeth, future couples were determined. An early form of Tinder, right?

Sadly, this form of celebration is a real no-no these days. It’s considered a germ spreader, disgusting, and dangerous. Unless bobbing in your own special bucket, don’t play the game.

Try some caramel apples instead with a crystallized herb or flower coating. But do remember our red herbal friend throughout this holiday season.

Did You Know. . . .
All apples descend from the wild crab apple (Malus sieversii)

The Greeks & Romans introduced apples to North Africa & Europe Germany’s #1 fruit is the apple; 87% of their crop is eaten, not processed.

By Cheryl Balster