Having had a wonderful, even scorching summer, we look forward to a promising fall. We can still enjoy beautiful sunny days; do not give up hope. Our Canadian orchards currently offer you one of the most beautiful family activities, which is apple picking. As a chef, the apple has a peculiarity that few fruits have; that is, it is rich in pectin. Regardless of the culinary specialty, the apple acts as a natural thickener that gels perfectly; this is absolutely brilliant! The apple is great in desserts, salads, and even savory dishes; it is very versatile.
Of all fruits, apples contain the most quercetin, an antioxidant from the flavonoid family. It is also the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of quercetin that appear to be beneficial on several levels for health. According to Richard Béliveau, doctor of biochemistry, each serving of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by approximately 4%. Apple pectin, in addition to being a remarkable culinary ally, lowers cholesterol as well as is a glycemic controller. The latter is a soluble fiber that swells in the stomach, slowing down the passage of food through the intestine, which promotes satiety.
About 3000 years ago, the history of the apple began in the Neolithic era on the Central Asian plateaus (in the south of the Caucasus to Xinjiang (Western China province)) to reach the domestic apple (Malus pumila) consumed today. The spread of the apple in Europe coincides with the human expansion and the arrival of agriculture in the Neolithic era. This leads us to think… that our fruit qualified par excellence may well have been correlated with the beginning of humanity.
The Romans, with their emperor at the time, Charlemagne, in turn participated in the implantation of the fruit in a large part of Europe, according to their conquests, while they feasted on about thirty varieties. There is no doubt that these would be the first settlers who introduced the apple tree and other fruit trees from France to North America. The very first apple tree, according to records, appeared in Port-Royal, Nova Scotia around 1610.
Apples have been cultivated in Quebec since the 17th century. Louis Hébert, an apothecary (former term for pharmacist), is credited with planting the first apple trees brought from Normandy around 1617 to Quebec. Since then, apple growing has firmly established itself in Quebec. In 1670, the Jesuits planted apple trees on Mount Royal in Montreal. Market development has now supplanted those that had been introduced.
Today, there are more than 500 apple growers located mainly in 4 regions (Laurentians, Borders, Vallée Montérégienne and Eastern Quebec). We would like to offer you a little apple treat. We take your health to heart, which is why we have thought about introducing dates as a sweetening agent. Ms. Labriski, a pioneer in desserts with natural sugars, including date puree, would be very impressed with our recipe. Our crumble will be purely comforting with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Bon appétit to you all!
Labriski-style apple crumble
✗ 6 medium apples or 4-5 large peeled apples, cut into small/medium dice
✗ A few dashes of lemon juice (bottled or fresh)
✗ 16 Medjool dates or 20 regular dates (pitted)
✗ 1 cup of hot water or orange juice
✗ 1 cup of Madame Labriski’s date puree, already prepared
✗ 1 1/2 cups of whole grain oatmeal (not instant)
✗ 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (Grenoble, slivered almonds, macadamia nuts or other)
✗ Ground cinnamon to taste
✗ 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
✗ 6 tablespoons of maple syrup or organic honey
✗ 3 tablespoons of softened butter or coconut oil
✗ 3-4 small squares of softened butter for the apples
✗ An 8-inch x 8-inch-deep square Pyrex dish
✗ A square aluminum or dark nonstick baking dish of approximately the same dimensions
Note: if you are lucky and your budget allows it; we recommend that you use Cortland, Honey Crisp or Paula Red apples, as they are more suitable for cooking. Otherwise fear not, any apple will be able to do the trick.
1- First of all, you will need to cook one of the star ingredients: the nutritious date puree. For those who wish to use Madame Labriski’s; don’t be ashamed, because it is just as delicious. In a medium glass mug or bowl that can hold 2-3 cups, place the pitted dates with hot water or orange juice. Heat this solution in the microwave for 1 minute in 20-second intervals. In principle, your dates will be as tender as you want; you just need to pass them through a mixer until you obtain a puree, or even a smooth paste. Remember to scrape the base of your blender well to get everything.
2- Leaving your homemade puree to rest, if you have chosen this option, you will be able to prepare your apples during this time. Take a medium bowl, half-filled with lukewarm water with a few dashes of lemon juice, in which you will place your fruits, so that they do not oxidize. Peel the apples, quarter them to remove the core, then cut them into small to medium cubes. At this point, you have half of the recipe executed.
3- We will use a new medium-sized mixing bowl to prepare the oatmeal in it, which will complete the crisp. In this same container, add the oatmeal, the walnuts pieces, cinnamon to taste, the maple syrup or honey, the butter or the coconut oil, then stir with the help of a wooden spoon. Unlike a regular crumble mix, your mixture may not clump together as much, but that’s okay. Once this step is complete, you can preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Note that if you are using a dark nonstick pan, you will need to subtract 25 degrees, since the latter cooks faster.
4- Have your Pyrex, foiled or dark nonstick baking pan on hand to make the crumble. Take the dish with your apples, drain them, then add the date puree, nutmeg, while stirring them evenly with a wooden spoon. Then transfer the apples to the chosen baking dish, being careful to spread them out in an even layer. Likewise, you will put the oatmeal mixture you made in the previous step on top of the apples. After that, your crumble will be ready to be put in the oven. Your oven should be preheated.
5- Let’s say, roughly speaking, this apple crumble can take 30 to 45 minutes to cook. When you see syrupy bubbles around the edges, as well as a gilding of the oat crust; it will be a nice indication that your fall delight is almost ready; it will be up to you to decide.
Now your apple crumble is really steaming! We suggest serving it hot or warm in small bowls with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The two make the perfect pair every time. You could invite friends, family, without an inkling of embarrassment when serving this comforting dish. For an incredible experience, we suggest you try the same recipe with pears instead of apples; you will be unequivocally speechless. However, consider adding an additional ten to fifteen minutes of cooking, because pears are firmer.
- Batiha GE, Beshbishy AM, Ikram M, Mulla ZS, El-Hack MEA, Taha AE, Algammal AM, Elewa YHA. The Pharmacological Activity, Biochemical Properties, and Pharmacokinetics of the Major Natural Polyphenolic Flavonoid: Quercetin. Foods. 2020 Mar 23;9(3):374.
- Skinner RC, Gigliotti JC, Ku KM, Tou JC. A comprehensive analysis of the composition, health benefits, and safety of apple pomace. Nutr Rev. 2018 Dec 1;76(12):893-909.
- Soliman GA. Dietary Fiber, Atherosclerosis, and Cardiovascular Disease. 2019 May 23;11(5):1155.
- Surampudi P, Enkhmaa B, Anuurad E, Berglund L. Lipid Lowering with Soluble Dietary Fiber. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2016 Dec;18(12):75.
- Williamson G. The role of polyphenols in modern nutrition. Nutr Bull. 2017 Sep;42(3):226-235. doi: 10.1111/nbu.12278. Epub 2017 Aug 15.