Patsy Bell Hobson is blogging at Oh Grow Up! When not in the garden or on the road, find her in southern Missouri USA. Read more travel stories at Striped Pot . Find more garden, travel and random rants on her Facebook .
"A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible." —Welsh proverb
It wouldn't be fall without apple pie, cobblers, dumplings, baked apples and my favorite—apple crisp. Most often we think of seasoning apples with herbal spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice.
The spices that often accompany apples tend to be those common to accenting sweet flavors. However, I love apples in savory dishes such as baked pork; savory herbs and spices flavor these types of dishes best.
• Five most common apple spices: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and aniseseed.
• Five favorite herbs with apples: sage, rosemary, thyme, mint, dill
Rosemary survives early frosts and is easily available for fall dishes.
SAGE: Savory dishes benefit from the addition of sage, fresh or dried. This is one of my favorite country cooking herbs. It would be impossible to have a Thanksgiving meal without sage roasted with the turkey and the dressing.
ROSEMARY: A sprig of rosemary pairs extremely well with any meat dish. In the fall, I slow cook a lot of poultry or pork. Apples can be used as an additional flavoring with slow cooked or stewed dishes. Apples may be all the sweetness you need in a baked or roasted dish.
MINT: Mint pairs well with apples in dishes containing other fruits, such as fruit salad or teas and ciders. Mint is often in apple and citrus recipes and drinks. A hint of mint added late in a slow cooking process will add another level of flavor to a rich or complex dish.
THYME: Thyme in savory dishes may be just that hint of flavor your dish was missing. Thyme is a team player, found in herb combinations such as bouquet garni or herbes de Provence. Add a sprig of thyme or a few dried leaves to baked fish.
DILL: Dill is an herb not used enough with apples. If your recipe calls for onions or carrots and apples, consider adding a bit of dill. Apples and herbs pair well with root vegetables, grains and eggs.
All of these herbs are best in supporting rolls. They are meant to be subtle when cooking with apples or other fruit.
Thyme and sage complement both pork and apples.
Photos by Patsy Bell Hobson
Since apples are in good supply now, use orchard fruits to educate your pallet and learn a bit more about herbs. In a dish of plain cooked apples or apple sauce, add just one of these five herbs for taste and to familiarize yourself with it's subtleties. Bake one apple a day and try a different herb with the baked apple every day.
If fresh fruit is your favorite, make a simple apple salad (like Waldorf) and add just a bit of one herb to the salad. Be frugal, use just a bit of any herb. Adding a bit more herb is easy to do if you aren't tasting the flavor.