St Leonards and Hastings Wonky Women’s Institute

IT was all things apples at the October meeting of the Wonky WI, with a fascinating talk about our favourite seasonal fruit from Craig Sams, founder of Green & Blacks chocolate (and macrobiotic diet guru).

When Mr Sams spoke about his love of the big apple, you could be forgiven for thinking he meant his native America. But, actually, Mr Sams was referring to the locally-grown, monster-sized Peasgood’s Nonsuch, the world’s largest eating apple, and just one of the many heritage varieties he introduced us to.

Now a resident of Hastings Old Town, Mr Sams was born to a farming family in apple-tastic Nebraska, where the frugal fruit found its way into everything from pies to butter. His life-long passion for all things homegrown inspired Mr Sams to buy a small orchard in Fairlight, where he now grows rare varieties, including the dimpled dessert apple Saltcote Pippin and the fallen-from-favour medlar (which you allow to blacken and rot before eating with cheese).

As well as learning about the apple’s role in mythology and religion (everyone from Eve to Aphrodite took a bite), Mr Sams showed beautiful images of the world’s largest apple forests - in Kazakhstan of all places - where whole mountain ranges are awash with blossom each spring.

We also discovered that an apple a day will indeed keep the doctor away, thanks to the abundance of flavonoids called polyphenols which act as antioxidants. They inhibit glucose uptake by 52 per cent (important for keeping blood sugar stable), reduce fat in internal organs, decrease blood stickiness and keep you full for longer.

Most of the phenols are found in the core and skin - the bits many of us throw away. Committee member Janie Harvey also presented the grand unveiling of the fabulous Wonky WI patchwork quilt that she has cleverly assembled out of 35 fabric squares created by Wonky members. It will be raffled off at a future meeting.

If you would like to attend a Wonky WI meeting, please come along at 7.30pm on the first Tuesday of the month at Frimley, 64 London Road, St Leonards, at 7.30pm. Non-members can attend three meetings for free. Please visit www.wonkywi.com for details