Worcestershire Apple Halves, 1955 – A Vintage Recipe Test

Posted on Jan 11 2017 - 3:25am by RetroRuth

This week we all have Tom to thank for this recipe. Apparently he isn’t getting enough Worcestershire sauce in his diet.


These are Worcestershire Apple Halves!

BC Apple Recipe Book002

Worcestershire Apple Halves
  • 3 large cooking apples
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  1. Wash, peel and core apples. Make syrup of sugar and Worcestershire sauce, salt and water.
  2. Cut apples in halves and add to liquid. Cook uncovered until tender, turning frequently.
  3. Remove apples from syrup. Continue cooking syrup about 5 minutes or more or until thick. Pour over apples and serve.

This recipe comes from The B.C. Apple Recipe Book, courtesy of the Apple Growers of British Columbia.BC Apple Recipe Book001

This book actually has some great advice for keeping apples. “Handle apples like eggs,” the book says, “Apples bruise easily and are a delicate fruit.” It also advises keeping apples in a cool, dark place like in a raised box in your basement or in your refrigerator.

And then it unleashes the “Recipes for Something Different” section, where this little beauty of a recipe was hanging out. When I first saw it I was horrified, then I thought it could work. It was worth a shot, at least. Maybe it would make a sweet and savory side that you would serve as a relish for a meat dish. Maybe.


“So,” I said to Tom, “Here are your choices for the recipe this week.” I handed him a stack of cookbooks.

“I’ll take the good one.”

“Please. No you won’t.”

“You’re right.” He handed me the recipe for Worcestershire Apple Halves. “Who am I kidding? I’m picking a gross one. I always pick the gross one.”



“How are they?”

“I don’t know. You try them.”

“Oh no. No, no, no. This was your idea. And when you tell me to try it, it’s never good. I don’t want to try them.”

“I can’t explain this flavor to you, you have to try it.”


“Yes. It’s your blog. How are you going to write the post if you don’t try it?”

“Fine, fine. I’ll do it.”

The Verdict: No

From The Tasting Notes:

To say that these were disgusting would be letting these things off easy. They were repulsive. I spat my bite out and then had to rinse out my mouth with water to get rid of the taste. It wasn’t that the Worcestershire sauce didn’t go with the apples, it did. And we all know that sugar and apples get along famously. No, the real onion in the ointment was the sugar and the Worcestershire sauce together. They hated each other, and they let your mouth know that on no uncertain terms. The meaty taste of the sauce with the ultra-sweet sugar syrup just did not go at all. It would have been much better if the amount of sugar had been cut, or if it was made with bitters, or something similar. No Worcestershire and sugar. Just no. Tom didn’t spit his out, but he didn’t care for the taste.

Update: It has been pointed out to me by several kind commenters that there is a similar English condiment to this called pickle, which is a sweet relish made with Worcestershire sauce. You are supposed to serve it with English cheddar, usually on a sandwich or as a side. I am assuming that this is trying to be a quick version of that condiment along the same lines, though it’s not entirely the same because no apple half is going to fit on a sandwich. It’s almost like someone tried to cross English pickle with stewed apples. Anyway, I have no desire to try it again with cheddar, but if anyone likes English pickle or feels brave, you can try this recipe with a piece of cheddar and report back to see if there is an improvement!

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit in...to the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (www.midcenturymenu.com), No Pattern Required (www.nopatternrequired.com), and I Ate The 80's (www.iatethe80s.com).

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10 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Mim McDonald (@crinolinerobot) January 11, 2017 at 4:34 am - Reply

    I can almost imagine this working, without the sugar, as a side dish to something like roast goose or duck, to cut through the fat. (Apples go well with both those birds.) Can’t imagine eating it on its own, though.

  2. Christa January 11, 2017 at 7:37 am - Reply

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter, life-long retro-miscellany fan here. Love your mid-century foodventures so much! I show them to my husband and we both marvel and laugh (*along* with you guys, not *at* you guys)! Clearly you and your hubs come from brave stock! 🙂

    The only possible explanation I can come up with for why so many of these recipes — the jaw-droppingly bad ones like this particular batch of bad apples, that is — is that mid-century people … smoked? A lot?And were potentially surrounded by said smoke? A lot? It was in their houses, their restaurants, their grocery stores(?), their recipe-testing companies … That is the *only* possible theory I can come up with for some of these, as to why someone thought they tasted good: smoke-deadened tastebuds! Not everyone smoked, of course, but perhaps *being around* a larger amount of smoke also contributed to the Worchestershire-plus-apples-equals-an-okay-taste-to-someone insanity. I have no huge body of evidence or anything though, save for knowing a few smoking acquaintances who had bizarrely-malfunctioning tastebuds over the years.

  3. Dana January 12, 2017 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Oh, thank God you returned to the Dark Side, Ruth! I absolutely love your reviews of these unbelievably bizarre recipes. What’s really amazing is it somebody actually THOUGHT THIS UP, cooked it and decided it was recipe-book worthy. I think about the thought process: “Let’s see. I have to come up with something new and different – something that’s going to taste really good.. I know! Worchestershire sauce and sugar!”
    Must’ve been during cocktail hour.

  4. ElleElle January 12, 2017 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Thank goodness we have you and your intrepid hubby to try these bizarre recipes so we don’t have to (not that I would have tried it in the first place). 🙂

  5. Lassie January 12, 2017 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    I think you will have to picture in this space a ‘pukey emoji’ . I can’t imagine a worse sounding recipe! Thanks for sharing, lol!

  6. Jeanine January 14, 2017 at 12:11 am - Reply

    Not much to say about the recipe itself, but fun for me, a lifelong BC resident, to see that recipe book. BC still does have good apples!

  7. Janet January 16, 2017 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    Very much like the time I put soy sauce on my rice, which already had teriyaki sauce on it from the chicken teriyaki. Terrible combination – the teriyaki sauce was sweet and sticky, and the soy sauce just salty. Did not go together at all.

  8. Stephanie January 18, 2017 at 10:43 am - Reply

    I can’t imagine any situation when this would be good. But I also love trying the weird gross stuff so I commend you both in taking the leap.

  9. Mark March 28, 2017 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Hi Ruth, been loving the site for some time now – I mainlined your archives a couple of years ago when I was going through a really bad time and needed something gentle and funny and engaging to keep my occupied, and I’ll always be grateful for that 🙂

    Anyway: English bloke here, and just wanted to confirm that “pickle” is definitely a thing, Branston being the main brand, and it’s basically on the same continuum as chutney but sharper, more vinegar and onion-and-garlicky, so it works really nicely with a savoury dish – and it does indeed go beautifully with a nice salty cheddar 🙂 You can see the ingredients for the Branston version on the Branston Pickle wikipedia page. I’ve never heard of it being made with worcester sauce although it hits a lot of the same flavour notes so it would probably work.

  10. Mike Kohn May 23, 2017 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    I….uh….just wonder if maybe it depends on *which* Worcestershire sauce is used. They vary quite a bit in taste. I’m a Lea and Perrins guy, myself. It has a sharpness that, say, French’s doesn’t have. Not that I’d expect this to be terribly good at any rate, but I may have to perform an experiment with 3 or 4 commonly available worcestershire sauces.

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