Apples: News, 2017


Another apple tasting: it's now nearly mid-September, and the apple varieties are coming and going more quickly than last year. They are ripening about three weeks earlier, which means they are not storing very well. There are five varieties here which we have not met before, including Dries (from Belgium), Malus Geneva and the highly scented Sops-in-Wine. We also tried a St. Ailred; this is a Leicestershire apple bred by one of the monks at Mt. St. Bernard's Abbey in 1942. The parentage is James Grieve x Ellison's Orange. The taste was outstanding; a little like both apples but softer, and it obtained the best assessment of the day.

The scores are below; the video will be posted shortly. Ribston (the parent of Cox) generally scores 5 but the one we tasted was taken from the tree and I suspect wasn't quite ripe.

apple tasting results

10 Sep 17

I was fortunate to have a visit from 'Ben Stargazer' who showed an interest in my apple collection. We did an apple tasting. Ben lives in South California but has also lived in Vietnam so has wide experience of flavours from different cultures. The apples we tasted (including five redfleshed) are shown below. I was astonished to see Ben consume Burford's Redflesh without discomfort (it is very bitter). He was surprised that most of the apples remained white after cutting, and was not fond of the very soft texture of Hall's Pink. Laxton's Fortune was top of his list.

Here are the scores and the remains of the apples:

26 Aug 17

It has struck me that there is very little useful information available on the internet about apple flavours. I am therefore continuing to report apple tastings on here in the hope that others may find them interesting. Some of them are being filmed and are available on Youtube, on Julie Drake's channel.

I recently had first fruit on some very rare Ukrainian apple varieties, a Polish apple, and two of my own-bred seedlings. Julie, her friend Mary Wolf, and I tried these apples and offer our comments and evaluation:

The varieties were Kosztela (Poland), Matrioska and Eccentric (two seedless Ukrainian apples which do not require bees or pollination), Dubbelman (a redfleshed apple from a contact in Stockholm), and our seedlings 210 (Laxton's Fortune x Almata) and 410 (Darcy Spice x Mott's Pink).
Video, 25 Aug.

Something which has emerged from our tastings is that many people do not like soft apples like Eccentric or Matrioska, even if they have a good flavour. Perhaps this is because they are never available in the supermarkets. However there are apples which are meant to be soft, and some of them are very attractive. Softness need not mean that a fruit is over-ripe.

Here are the marks we allocated to the six apples:

26 Aug 17

It's now mid-June, and the apple trees have lots of new, soft growth, which is very attractive to bugs, including aphids of all kinds. The signs of aphid attack are:

1.Curly leaves (or even a single curly leaf - if you see one, take a look underneath)
2.Ants anywhere on the tree.

The cure, if you catch it early enough, is to take off the bad leaves and dispose of them. If the aphids are established, they need squashing, followed by a spray of either soap solution or a water-soluble insecticide, depending on whether or not you follow organic principles.

Here are some pictures so you know what to look for (click thumbnail picture for detail):

Curly leaf:

Reverse side:

Curly leaf:

Reverse side:

12 Jun 17

Mere Pippin apples still in good condition and being used on 29 May; just a few remain. The best keepers of the year.

29 May 17

What an unusual year - apple blossom is three weeks earlier for us than in 2016, which doesn't tie in very well with the prediction made last month based on Prunus. First apple blossoms to show were on 4 Apr, with 10% of the flowers open two days later and 90% blossom on 9 Apr. The varieties were Webster Pinkmeat and George's Red; the first is an American redfleshed apple and the second a redfleshed apple from Essex.

About twenty other varieties have now joined them, and hand-pollination is in full swing, with pollen from last year being used on the very early flowers.

I often get asked if early flowering apples form early-ripening fruit. The answer is - not usually. A few early flowering types ripen very early (eg Sweetings) and one or two flower late and ripen late (eg Crawley Beauty) but overall there is not much of a link between flowering date and ripening date. The speed of growing and ripening (ie the chemical reactions inside the developing fruit) is unique to each variety.

12 Apr 17

It seems likely that apple blossom this year will be later than last year. My flowering plum, which I use as a 'marker' for blossom dates, was in full (90%) bloom this year on 4 Mar, compared with 20 Feb last year, ie. 2-3 weeks later. The apricot plum was 8 Mar, compared with 8 Mar in 2016; however last year it was spread over six weeks, a bit at a time, so the date was difficult to pin down.

First apple blossom last year in this part of South Leicestershire was Pink Pearl (18 Apr) followed by Webster Pinkmeat and Scarlet Surprise (20 Apr).

According to the plum dates I guess we may have some apple blossom around 25-30 Apr with Bramley at around 10-12 May, but much depends on what happens to the weather over the next fortnight.

10 Mar 17

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