By

Melanie Leyshon is the editor of Healthy Food Guide magazine. She's a flexitarian and couldn’t get through the week without yogurt and yoga.

When it comes to healthy eating, apples are great, and there’s one variety that’s top of the tree in terms of quality.

We know pink-skinned apples offer health extras when it comes to managing our blood sugar levels. That’s because when their antioxidant pigments, called anthocyanins, are combined with the polyphenols in the fruit, they can help lower the absorption of glucose. The fibre in apples also plays it part with this process. One of Healthy Food Guide’s favourite apples is Pink Lady, which recently won a Best of Health Award in our annual food and drink awards.

How they’re picked

Last November, I visited the start of the month-long Pink Lady® apple harvest at Earl Gailet farm, near Avignon. It’s quite an event, where the locals gather for a celebratory buffet lunch with French wine, naturally, to kick off the picking season – which is all done by hand. In the orchards, row upon row of the low level-growing pink apples creates a glowing pink canopy. The Pink Lady Cripps Pink and Rosy Glow varieties are real stunners and hand picking them ensures they aren’t bruised. If it rains, picking is halted for two days to prevent any damage. These apples thrive in the Provencal climate, as the hot days and cooler nights help the distinctive pink skin develop.

Pink Lady apples are hand-picked to avoid bruising

Why they taste so good

After picking, Pink Lady apples are delivered to a packing station for grading. In 2017, 9,400 tons of Pink Lady® apples grown in Provence were sold in the UK. I saw a fair number of this season’s crop bobbing happily along in water channels, according to size. Before their bath, apples from each farmer are tested for their balance of sugar and acidity. The standard Brix reading for a Pink Lady is 13%, which, to you and me, means, that balance delivers the most appealing taste. Those that don’t make the grade are used for animal feed.

Waste not, want not! Apples that don’t make the grade are given to the animals

Looking after the orchard

On the Earl Gailet farm no pesticides are used. Grower Stéphane Gailet explained that his family’s orchards are pollinated naturally by bees, which only takes 10 days. And the good weather in 2018 means we’re in for a bumper crop this year – no frost in April and rain in August certainly helped the harvest.

The picturesque Pink Lady orchard

Pink Lady apples are widely available at supermarkets. Find out more at pinkladyapples.co.uk

Read nutrition editor Amanda Ursell’s blog about apples and weight loss

Images courtesy of Wendy H Gilmour (aka @thankfifi)