English Apples - News

..............This page has been kept online for archive purposes. The latest entry on it was added in late 2007.

There is a distinct chance that the National Fruit Collection will have to be moved to another site. A number of articles about this have appeared in the National Press. Visit the Brogdale website and you'll see that the financing of the Fruit Collection is set to change.

Its future, it seems, is not yet secure. Two DEFRA reports (they used to be known as MAFF) proposed that 90% of the trees should be done away with, and that the collections should consist of "cryogenically preserved material" (twigs in freezers).

Is that the way to run a National Fruit Collection?

A friend informs me that four hundred varieties have already been removed from the Apple Collection and destroyed. I wondered why the number of apples on the Brogdale site was given as 1800, down from 2200 a couple of years ago.

If you are concerned about the future of the National Fruit Collection, I suggest you use Google and enter the words


and you'll find some references which will inform you of what's going on.

Look especially for those involving Joan Morgan, one of our leading apple experts. She runs a blog and is working hard on the Collection's behalf. We must not lose it. ...N.D., 2 Sep 07

D.T.Brown's have brought out an apple named "Jumbo". It's dual-purpose, very large, keeps until March, and has cream-coloured flesh. It's a similar size to Howgate Wonder. It's quite acidic but mellows on storage to an acceptable dessert apple. A tree grafted onto M9 is about 13. This is a new variety. ...noted from short article in Daily Telegraph, 4 Feb 06...

Broadholme Beauty is a new apple bred by 90-year old Henry Lovely, who has been blind for about 40 years. Lovely took a pip from a James Grieve apple and grew it on. It is thin-skinned and naturally sweet. It has undergone 10 years of field trials before making it into Ken Muir's catalogue. It has good keeping qualities, good disease resistance, and is quite hardy. It is not in the National Fruit Collection...Daily Telegraph, 10 Sep 05, plus remarks from ND.

These uncommon apples have recently (Dec 05) been found; one in Surrey and the other in Leicestershire. See the " Apples not in the National Fruit Collection " page for Black Jacks and the "Leicestershire Apples" page for Martin's Custard. Also see the Apple Pictures page.


BBC News, 30 November 2005

Art gallery visitors are being allowed to take their pick of 700 varieties of apple on display - and eat them.

The artwork at the Brighton Fringe Basement looks at how people have lost touch with traditional farming.

Artist Andre Viljoen said: "It makes the point that although there is discussion about choice, the reality is that there is very little choice."

He said there are 2,000 varieties of apple in the country, with about 10 types found in many shops at the most.

The Lost Apple Field is part of an exhibition funded by the British Council looking at issues of traditional food production.

Tessa Lewin, from the Brighton-based arts organisation, Lighthouse, said: "English people love apples. "They are really excited about them. I had a lot of friends here at the opening, trying different ones, discussing them, how one tasted like aniseed and another like liquorice."

information located by Greg Linden - many thanks.

Summarised from another DT article, 19 Nov 05
Heron Valley Farmhouse Cider has been producing cider for eight years. The juice used is blended by Hugh Hayward, a retired sommelier, and the product is rather dry, so it goes well with food, says Natasha Bradley.

The Bradley family also produces a range of fruit juices, from 80 acres of apples and from the produce of local growers.

Steve Bradley on cider making: "It's a matter of using the natural yeast on the outside of the apple, so each batch of apples which comes in has to be fermented immediately".

Blending has to be done to produce a good-tasting end product.

ND adds - a good cider has to have the right balance of tannin, acid and sugar. It also needs to taste strongly of apples. Get it wrong and you have an unsaleable product.

Ken Muir, www.kenmuir.co.uk has a good basic range.
Deacon's nursery: www.deaconsnurseryfruits.co.uk has an amazing selection, including about 20 cider apples.
Thornhayes Nursery has a wide range of old varieties, many from Cornwall: www.thornhayes-nursery.co.uk.
Keepers Nursery has a wide selection too; www.keepers-nursery.co.uk.

Warning from ND - some cider apples are too bitter or fibrous to use for anything but cidermaking, even when cooked. Don't get a cider apple tree unless you're sure it's what you want.


(summarised from an article in the Daily Telegraph, by David Derbyshire, 11.11.05).

Supermarkets were accused yesterday of failing British farmers yesterday after a survey done by Friends of the Earth found that two thirds of apples sold in the height of the UK apple season came from overseas. Some of the apple varieties had travelled 12,000 miles, according to the survey.

The reliance on cheap imported food is harming British farming and threatening traditional fruit growers.

TESCO was the worst offender. Only a quarter of its lines came from Britain. Others came from Cile, South Africa and New Zealand.

According to the survey, Somerfield had 42% of British apples, Sainsbury 40%. Local grocers sourced about half of their apples from the UK.

The findings came from a survey of 181 supermarkets and 63 greengrocers carried out by volunteers.

Unsurprisingly, a spokesman for Tesco described the survey as nonsense, and a man from Waitrose said that 70% of Waitrose apples were sourced from the UK.

Tesco: "....Tesco has sold more English apples than anyone this week ... we are confident that by the end of the season we will have had a record year".

Waitrose: "We are committed to sourcing from the UK whenever we can, and during the UK apple season we offer an extremely wide choice of home-grown apples". (This is true - I've seen the selection - ND)

A letter in the paper the following day read as follows:

In connection with your report on apples.....the following words from "The Apples of England" by H.V.Taylor might be of interest.

"There are apples and apples, and the knowledge of varieties, part of the inheritance of the country-bred man, is becoming rarer among our urban population. Sadly so, because this lack of knowledge favours the flood of "fashionless" foreign apples which swamps our markets, mass-produced and looking almost machine-made in their bright polish and shop finish."

It seems the problem you describe is not new.

Dr. Andrew Humphries.

taken from an article by Robert Uhlig, Daily Telegraph, 19 Nov 03
The two largest supermarkets, Tesco and Asda, were accused yesterday of breaking promises to support British farmers. A survey found that they imported most of their apples during the 2003 apple season.

Asda and Tesco have claimed they source British produce wherever possible but according to a survey by Friends of the Earth they have fewer British apples for sale than in 2002. Last year, supermarket buyers rejected British apples for being both too red and not red enough. The survey showed half the apples sold in greengrocers were British, but in supermarkets only one third were British. Also, 17% of apples in supermarkets came from outside Europe. A Tesco spokesman said he could not challenge the figures. Asda was contacted but did not respond.

KEN MUIR'S NURSERY...Daily Telegraph 22.11.03
...........Dessert apples are a particular strength, and some of the most popular varieties have been bred by Kentish grower Hugh Ermin. His late-season Herefordshire Russet, for instance, which is said to be a russet with a Cox flavour, was last year's favourite when tasted on Apple Day, and the mid-season "Scruptious" is a sweet crisp variety popular with children. (Honeypot Farm, Rectory Rd, Weeley Heath, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex; www.kenmuir.co.uk).

This autumn (2003) Waitrose is selling apples from Brogdale ... your opportunity to try fruit from the National Fruit Collection. If you see unusual English apples for sale at Waitrose supermarkets - buy them! This is an unusual initiative and deserves encouragement. (reported by Daily Telegraph mag, Oct 03) And don't forget APPLE DAY: tastings of English Apples, in the week 18-25 Oct, held on different days in different parts of the country. This annual event started about a decade ago - and is an excellent introduction to the diversity of English apples.

The Queen Mary apple, thought to have been lost, has been found in an overgorwn orchard near Haddiscoe, Norfolk. Bred in Sussex and noted for its flavour, it won the Bunyard Cup for the best new apple in 1920. It will be shown at the "Roots of Norfolk" Museum in Gressenhall on 19 Oct, 2003. (Times, 3 Oct 03)

A variety of apple last recorded in 1946 has been rediscovered in Dorset. The Profit, a cooker, was taken to an "apple day" at Dorchester College of Agriculture, and though the variety was identified five days later, no-one had taken the name of the owner. Harry Baker, a pomologist, said, "We would like to find him so we can take a graft from the tree for the Royal Horticultural Society collection". (Daily Telegraph, 21 Nov 01)

A rare variety, the "Shackerstone Apple" is to return to its village....the cooking apple, called "Dumelow's Seedling", was originally raised by a farmer in the village around 1800, but virtually disappeared to be replaced by the more popular Bramley. However, the variety is to return in time to celebrate the millenium after resident Mr. Brian Saunders discovered the connection while listening to a gardening programme on Radio Leicester. He followed it up and found a nursery on the Isle of Wight specialising in rare varieties still growing it. Shackerstone Residents' Association has arranged to bring 10 trees to the village, and they will be planted in October to coincide with Apple Day. The apples are large and flattish, pale green in colour, becoming yellow with some orange mottling. (They are also quite strongly scented-ND) The farmer who raised the apple was Richard Dummeller who died in 1816. Mr. Aubrey Chalmers, the chairman of Shackerstone Residents' Association, said "Pronounciation of Mr. Dummeller's name led to the apple being called Dumelow's and the name stuck. He added "There are a number of ancient apple trees around the village and it will be interesting to see whether they are descendants of the original". (Hinckley Times, 17 Jun 99)

Weighing in at 3lb 11oz and with a circumference of 21.25 inches, the apple, a Howgate Wonder, will enter the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest apple ever grown, beating the previous best by 7oz.

"I am amazed and delighted" said the apple's grower, Alan Smith, yesterday. "Our crop this year was cut by a third by the frost, so this is the one bright star in an otherwise dark sky.".

Mr. Smith, 56, grew the apple on a 17-year old tree on his family's farm at Laddingford near Maidstone, Kent. But it was only when he took it to the Marden Fruit Show at Detling, Kent, that he discovered it was a world-beater.

"This year, there was a very early blossom that was hit by the heavy frost", he said. "This thinned the fruit right out but it meant that those apples which did survive had a longer than usual growing season. We have nurtured this one, supporting it with a stocking net against the wind and the starlings. I heard the forecast for storms and high winds and I lost my nerve and picked it". Daily Telegraph, 24 Oct 97

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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