Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Apples.

Looking at the apple selection on the fruit counter in our grocers this morning I was reminded yet again of how the selection of apples has changed.

There were New Zealand cox's, rather small British cox's,  Bramley cooking apples, tasteless Golden Delicious (a misnomer if ever there was one) and Braeburn apples from goodness knows where.

What has happened to our native varieties?   Where are the Worcester Pearmaines, the Beauty of Kent, the Ellison's Orange Pippin, the Newton Wonder, the Russett, the Beauty of Bath and all the rest?

At certain times of the year our Greengrocery stall on the market will have Beauty of Bath 'the first apples of the season' and later on they will have 'russetts', almost the last apples of the season.   And, of course, they always have Bramleys.   But all other apples seem to have vanished.

Or have they?  Once, about forty years ago, we were in a small town in the Vale of Evesham (a major fruit-growing area), and we came across a greengrocers with a whole row of baskets outside, each one containing an 'old-fashioned' apple.  They were various sizes, some were a bit scabby - but by golly the ones we bought were far more tasty than anything I have tasted since.

When I was a child we had an Ellison's Orange Pippin and a Beauty of Bath tree in our garden.   They tasted divine.   Was that my young, unclouded palate or have apples all become the same size, the same taste, clones to suit some E U regulation?

If anyone lives in a fruit growing area, perhaps they can answer the question for me.

21 comments:

Em Parkinson said...

The whole apple situation is so depressing. EVEN Waitrose don't have that many varieties. At elast the coxes I'm getting are still English but so many of those wonderful varieties seem confined to apple fairs and taster sessions.

Heather said...

Even supermarket English Coxs don't have the flavour of those my grandfather grew and I doubt that today's younger customers would recognise the names of the older varieties. Grandad's favourites were James Greave and my father loved and grew Charles Ross. Happy days.

Rachel said...

On a flight from Italy I once sat next to an apple buyer for a leading Uk supermarket. He spent six months of the year in New Zealand and six months in Europe. He told me that the average UK housewife is only interested in price and doesn't care where the apples come from. He said he dealt with a few growers in the Uk but only as a token gesture and they were not profitable.

jinxxxygirl said...

Wow i recognize very few of the ones you mentioned...i know Braeburn and Golden Delicious...

Around here..... California... i find Red and Yellow delicious, Granny Smith, Fiji, Cameo, and several more i cannot think of at the moment...... Eventually i'm sure it will all narrow down to which ones they can produce the most of at the least cost to them......deb

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I understand that the supermarkets demand apples to be of uniform size and unblemished. So I guess you only chance of getting a "proper" apple is at local greengrocers, markets or grow your own. There are so many English apples to choose from, that grow in different climes that if we have room for two trees perhaps we should all grow apples. Here on our little holdingin the midlands we grow Jonogold, James Greave, Sunset, Elstar, Charles Ross, Bramley, Katy, Arthur Turner, Grenadier and Egremont Russet, with Golden Hornet and John Downie crab apples as pollinators.
On the rare occasion that I have had a supermarket apple it doesn't seem to have much flavour and goodness knows how many times it has been sprayed!

Tom Stephenson said...

Never heard of The Beauty of Bath! At the risk of sounding UKIP again, we can probably blame supermarkets and the EU for the limited selection of varieties. We can certainly blame the French for Golden Delicious.

Tim said...

Golden Delicious are delicious...
in France! We get them from a local grower and they are properly golden with a red blush on one side.
And they taste wonderful!!
In Leeds supermarkets... I agree with you... wonder fully tasteless!!

James Greave, however, is a wonderful producer...
on our Leeds allotment we had one...
the first thinnings are great for jellies, the second thinnings for early apple pies... and the fruit proper, when ripe, is a great, crunchy, flavoursome eat!!
BUT... it is very early...
one of the first apples to come on stream...
and at the end of September, someone flicks its flavour switch and it becomes all pappy and yuck in the mouth... the juice is still quite good, tho'.
However, sliced or diced, it dehydrates very well and seems to lose little...
put dice on your breakfast cereal...
rehydrate before use in pies or on tarts...
rehydrate with cider for an extra appleyness...
or double-dehydrate and eat as crisps.

We grow the Newton Wonder, and Winter Banana...
and Katy, Jimmy Greave, and I need to ask herself what the others are...

From the local producers...
there are a few around here...
we can get Canadian Russet [Russet in the UK]...
Jonagold, Fiji, Breaburn, Reine des Reinettes, Boskoop, and a whole host of others...
around a dozen more...
of different season ripening...
currently a lot of late season Belchard [superb], Boskoop [tough skin but superb with goats cheese when peeled] and Russet for all round tastiness...

They are graded on the farm and sold in the supermarkets and on their stalls at much the same price.
The farmer's market in Leeds had all the above... except Reine des Reinettes...

Part of the reason for the lack in UK supermarkets is fashion, The LOOK and shelf life...
it certainly isn't down to some EU regulation...
although they would probably like you to think that it was...
saves them having to tell you the real reason...

Our trees that we've planted here came from R.V.Rogers...
between Pickering and Malton...
and our dehydrator, an Excalibur five-shelf, came from a business at Elveden [near York].
That has proved its worth time and again with gluts of mashed potato [saves freezer space], tomatoes, fruit...
currently drying Cavendish banana slices to make banana chips...
but without the sugar on the outside... they don't need it....
and the making of leathers...
fruit, tomato and flavoured yoghurt we've tried so far...
excellent, healthy, lowfat nibbles.

Start your own orchard from stock from R.V.Rogers.

Dartford Warbler said...

I know that some older varieties are not good "keepers" so that would make them less commercially viable I suppose?

We have cleared a patch of ground for growing fruit trees and will be looking for heritage apples to plant.

Hildred said...

On our orchard we grew Red and Golden Delicious, Spartans and McIntosh,(a wonderful crisp apple) but now the palate has changed and I usually buy only Ambrosia, a local apple developed by a neighbour from a 'sport' - a good keeper, sweet and crisp and it hasn't traveled thousands of miles to get to my table! The Grocer has some imports though, - Pink Lady, Fiji, Granny Smith among them!!!

The varieties on our orchard were different from the varieties Charles' father grew on the home place - Wagners, Johnnies (not Jonagold) English Coxes, Russets, Newtons, Winter Bananas.

I don't have the answer to any of your questions Pat, - I only know you had to be very creative about marketing to make any money on an orchard!

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Here in the US we have similar problems with apples - the commercial ones are all tasteless and blah. When we have to buy apples in the grocery stores we only buy organic - the taste is amazingly different - the Red Delicious and Yellow Delicious are crisp and tasty - not that mushy mess that the non-organic ones are. Some farm stands have the old favorites in the autumn too - Gravenstein and Winesap - oh the sounds of their names makes my mouth water and I want a good apple. Fortunately I have a bowl of organic Gala apples - yumm.

Cro Magnon said...

After I sold my parents' small Shropshire estate, the new owner BULLDOZED the entire 44 tree orchard. Every tree had an ancient lead label, and some of the names didn't even appear in reference books. I think some of England's apple heritage died that day. I wouldn't have sold it to him had I known what he was going to do; it became a helipad.

Cloudia said...

You are not misremembering. Wonderful varieties and local gems are being championed and appreciated again. At last. Well said.



Aloha

Helsie said...

A favourite here is called Pink Lady and I think it is probably a newish breed. Looks spectacular and tastes good too. I grew up with Jonathon as the favourite variety but you never see them now either. We don't get many of the types you and your readers talk about... not even the famous Bramley. We use Granny Smiths for cooking apples here.

Linda Metcalf said...

Here in the US I used to love Red and Golden Delicious but they are now almost tasteless and most often green inside. I use Granny Smith to bake pies as they hold us best in the oven...as for an eating apple I now buy Gala's ....I used to have 2 apple trees but storms took them.

Frances said...

I have learned lots of new apple names from your post and the prior comments. Here in New York City, I like to buy my apples from the farmers market downtown in Union Square.

Not only can I find varieties not sold in supermarkets, but I can also find apples that are smaller, rather than the giant versions the supermarkets seem to stock. It's also fun to have the opportunity to chat a bit with the farmers!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I hate how shops generally only stock a small selection of apples. I can get russets and cox's orange pippins in season but otherwise its all the bland usual stuff. i never buy apples now, but luckily Crafty green Boyfriend's mother's garden has a couple of apple trees that produce the tastiest eating and cooking apples ever

mumasu said...

There is a farm in Chelmsford that grows some old and local varieties and sells them in their farm shop but I think they are the exception rather than the norm in Essex.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for that - lots of varieties I had never heard of. Perhaps they are coming back, slowly. Let's hope so because anything is better than today's tasteless varieties.

Tim said...

Pauline has just posted on "De la bonne bouffe" [http://livingtoeat-pollygarter.blogspot.fr/] about our pear trees...
she's put a link to RV Rodgers site on that...
if they are happy to deliver to central France...
they must be able to send decent size stock to the other side of t'Shire!
The apple trees DIDN'T take seven years to come into flower....
Katy has been quite prolific since she was three....
small, but very tasty...
Morrisons and Booths both stock a single varietal Katy cider.

thousandflower said...

During our t rip we went to Lyme Regis and one of the shops had baskets of local heirloom apples for sale out in front. We bought a selection just for fun. Wish we'd written down the names but we didn't. There are local apples for sale around here, at the Farmers Market and often in the grocery stores as our local store is willing to buy from local farmers. We have a small orchard with about a dozen different varieties, 4 of them cider apples. We hope to make our own hard cider before long. Of course, we could just go back to England for cider, couldn't we.

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