Thursday, 12 March 2009

cooking apples



Unique to British gardens and orchards are cooking apples.

In France, and all other parts of the world, I understand that there are only dessert apples. After all, why would anyone want a big, sour apple?

Well, we British do! We like a large, dense, sour apple that can be peeled and sliced, dusted with sugar and cooked in pies or crumbles. And our national favourite is the Bramley seedling.

The Bramley was first grown in a garden in Newark, not ten miles from our home. It is from this parent tree that all Bramley's are descended.

Bramleys keep well, and increase in sweetness the longer they are stored. They make a delicious, cold-pressed apple juice that balances sweetness and sharpness perfectly.

So, it was very satisfying to add two cooking apples to our cordoned apple collection this week. Apple cordons are a brilliant way to pack maximum fruit punch into limited space. Mature trees, although child height, can produce forty fruits each. That's a lot of apples, so it is sensible to give thought to the varieties chosen. You don't want to have all of your apples ready to eat on the same day!

You already know that one of our new varieties is a Bramley. The other is Keswick Codling. Its fruit mature before the Bramley, so we will have an extended period to enjoy our cooking apples. We will store the Bramleys somewhere cool and dark and use the Keswick's first. The Bramleys should still be in good order well into the following New Year.

Having planted our young trees into well prepared ground, we do not expect to take fruit from them in the first season, hoping that their energies can go into growth. Over the following years we can expect to see an increased yield, with the optimum achieved in year five. It seems strange to be planning ahead to 2014!

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