It was a lucky accident that brought Ambrosia apples to the market two decades ago.
First, it was lucky that Mother Nature created a natural hybrid in a Similkameen orchard with not only a delicious taste, but also stored well. Then, of course, it was lucky the Mennells discovered the apple in their orchard and identified it as something special.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of these fortuitous events, Ambrosia Apples has launched a Orchard to Table recipe contest online at ambrosiaapplescontest.com.
“The contest is about bringing people, food and fantastic flavours together, with a chance to win great prizes,” said a spokesperson for the group. “Ambrosia apples were created by nature and we want to know how Canadians create in the kitchen with them. Then we’ll share those recipes with the world.”
Besides their taste, Ambrosia apples have some special qualities as a recipe ingredient. They’re slow to brown, have a natural sweetness, and retain their shape when baked or cooked. The main rule for the contest is that Ambrosia apples, raw or cooked, must be prominently featured in the dish.
There are four prizes from Cuisinart and Breville totaling over $1500. First prize is a Cuisinart 5.5 quart stand mixer, second prize is a Breville Juice Fountain Elite and third prize is a Breville All in One. There is also a People’s Choice prize of a Cuisinart 5.5 quart stand mixer.
The strain of apple was registered in 1993, but was chanced upon the early 1990s, when workers in Wilfrid and Sally Mennell’s orchard tasted the bi-coloured apples from a lone tree unlike the others in the orchard. The fruit was so good they stripped the tree clean.
Now, Ambrosia apples often win converts at first bite, according to Glen Lucas, general manager of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association, who spent some time handing out samples of the fruit at an agricultural fair in Regina last winter.
Often, said Lucas, a passerby would tell them something like “I only eat Gala,” but after trying a sample of Ambrosia soon change their tune to “I have a new favourite.”
The contest begins at 9 a.m. Nov. 1 and runs through to Dec. 10 at 4 p.m. Full rules can be found online at ambrosiaapplescontest.com.