Bring all ingredients (except the apples) to boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste the brine and adjust seasoning to your liking, adding more salt or maple syrup for a sweeter pickled apple.
While the brine cools, wash your apples. Cut the apples into quarters and core the quarters. Slice the quarters thinly, into 1/8th inch slices. Transfer the slices to a glass bowl.
Pour the brine through a strainer and over the apples in the bowl. The slices may float, so you can weigh them down with the strainer.
When the brine comes to room temperature, transfer the slices to a large jar, taking care to layer them for a beautiful profile presentation. This is easily achieved by layering in a circle. Pick out the star anise pods from the brine and add them at intervals so they also show through in profile.
Fill the jar to the top with brine and discard any leftover brine. Seal with a lid. (The pickled apples will keep for a week in the refrigerator.)
Apples are very high in dietary fiber and water as well as a whole bunch of immune-boosting nutrients like vitamin C and flavonoids. They are also known for their high pectin content which is a gelatinous substance that promotes heart health and can help to lower LDL cholesterol.
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar has been shown to have germ-busting properties, as well as the capacity to lower bad cholesterol. ACV also contains heaps of potassium, which helps to thin mucus, so if you are feeling congested, that combo of bacteria-preventing acetic acid and potassium is a great choice!
Picking apples is wonderful way to enjoy the flavor of the season and they are also a fabulous compliment to pork dishes!