Vanessa – favourite apple Pink Lady – has a wide white smile which dazzles each of the steady troop of customers who come to buy apples. For three years she’s been there, selling the Pink Ladies and Granny Smiths and the rough-and -ready juicing apples produced at the McMahon family orchard up near Stanthorpe, certified organic apples devoid of waxes and sprays, picked just within days of going to market themselves. ‘People’, she tells me, ‘know me as the Apple Lady – it’s so sweet!’

As sweet as those apples you crunch into. Only picked when they’re ripe – unlike supermarket apples well before their prime, gassed, stored for months – McMahon’s have a texture and a flavour altogether superior. Eating one, I’m transported instantly to a Canberra childhood and an eccentric grandfather whose backyard housed his own apple orchard.

A man juggles two handfuls of very small apples; another woman thoughtfully selects lime-green grannies – but most seem to come for those Pink Ladies. ‘They’re the most popular’, says Vanessa, who herself eats ‘a lot of apples!’ She and I discuss recipes – she usually makes a gluten-free apple cake, apples both grated and chopped into a buttery eggy almond meal batter.

With the kilo of grannies I take home, I decide on the simplicity of an apple pie, a shortcrust pastry and a Karen Martini mix of finely chopped apples, grated lemon rind, ground cloves and caster sugar piled in to the base and sealed with its lid, slashes to let the steam out, a good long bake till golden.

But before I leave the stall I ask Vanessa if she has a little-known fact about apples for me. Her face brightens. ‘I do!’ she says. ‘Apples come from the same family as roses. I love that!’

McMahon’s Apples are at Mullumbimby every Friday from 7 – 11am

Victoria Cosford