British apples

Britain’s climate is ideal for growing apples.  Some apple facts:

  • apples originated in the Tien-Shan mountains (on the China-Kazakhstan border)
  • Romans introduced them to Britain
  • the diversity of varieties (over 2,000 have been grown in Britain) largely stem from the Victorian and Edwardian period, an age of passionate gardeners and cross-pollinators
  • British apple varieties often have interesting names: Peasgood Nonsuch, Bloody Ploughman and Greasy Pippin
  • Ashmeads Kernel, which originated in England around 1700, is often singled out as an example of the pros and cons of the British apple. Pro – the taste.

“… the bite is a nutty snap, exploding with champagne-sherbet juice infused with a lingering scent of orange blossom. Stick me in Pseuds Corner if you like, but try one and you’ll see I’m right.” – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in the Guardian

Con – the appearance.  Far from the uniform glossiness supermarkets seek in their apples, the Ashmead Kernel varies enormously in size and has a dull russet colour.   What’s more, it’s often covered in dark spots.

The future for British apples: public interest  in native apple varieties is growing, but orchard growers are worried about the declining bee population.

The photo of an Ashmeads Kernel is from Orange Pippin, web resource for apples and orchards

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