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A Sweet Apple From New Zealand

July 14, 1988|MINNIE BERNARDINO | Times Staff Writer

Meet the Braeburns--greenish gold apples with ruby striping from the land of the long white cloud. Next to the Granny Smith, this newer apple will soon be New Zealand's second largest variety.

By looks they could easily be mistaken for McIntosh. But anyone who takes a bite of this exceptional tasting fruit will realize a sweeter, crunchier difference. There's only a few more weeks left to capture the succulent Braeburn, which arrived in late May and will be here through this month to early August.

And you can't beat the fresh quality. The fall harvest has just finished in New Zealand, so the Braeburns come to us just weeks from the tree. Introduced in 1985 and only available in New Zealand, the apples have had an astounding following. "Consumer demand has skyrocketed," said Koleen Hamblin of Torme & Co., representing the New Zealand Apple and Pear Marketing Board. "This year we've increased exports by 50%, but we still predict another sellout season."

Think of Pippin and Red Delicious apples when you try this New Zealand variety, but as a bonus you'll get the best of each of these. The Braeburn apple has a clean, tangy-sweet taste with a crisp, juicy flesh. The variegated skin is thin for delicious easy munching.

For cooking, the apples hold up well in baking and are perfect for apple pies and tarte tatins. And of course, they're excellent served with mild cheeses, chicken or vegetable salad. I've even discovered a use for them in potato salad, imparting just the right sweetness and crunch I was looking for.

In the late '40s, the Braeburn variety was discovered in an orchard roadside in New Zealand. Forty years of research and development to improve the apple strain was obviously well worth the long wait.

BRAEBURN APPLE AND CHICKEN SALAD

2 large ripe papayas

Lime juice

3 cups cubed cooked cold chicken

2 New Zealand Braeburn apples

Lime-Mint Dressing

2 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced

1/3 cup halved purple grapes

1/2 large bulb fennel or 2 large celery stalks, julienned

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 cup minced green onions

Lime Mint Dressing

Grated nutmeg, optional

Mint sprigs

Halve papayas lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and discard. Remove half of pulp from each papaya shell, leaving about 1/2 inch of pulp. Cut pulp into cubes and place in large bowl. Sprinkle papaya boats with lime juice and set aside for serving.

Combine chicken with apples and 1 cup Lime-Mint Dressing. Add to cubed papaya in bowl with kiwi, grapes, fennel, almonds and green onions. Chill up to 4 hours.

When ready to serve, arrange papaya shell on each of 4 salad plates. Sprinkle with lime juice and spoon salad into center, mounding each in middle. Sprinkle lightly with grated nutmeg. If desired, arrange more apple and kiwi slices on side of plate. Place spoonful of extra dressing on top and garnish with sprig of mint. Makes 4 servings.

Lime-Mint Dressing

1 1/4 cups low fat yogurt

1/4 cup reduced calorie mayonnaise

Juice and grated zest of 1 small lime

1 tablespoon finely minced mint leaves

1 tablespoon honey or sugar

Salt, pepper

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Combine yogurt, mayonnaise, lime juice and zest, minced mint and honey. Blend well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add sesame oil. Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

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