Earlier this week it was National Apple Day and to help celebrate I was sent some of the finest English apples to have a little taste test with. Now, I know nothing really about apples, other than how to chop them up and make them into a crumble. Or, like in the picture above turn them into toffee apples as part of our Halloween celebrations.
But English Apples wanted me to try out some of their varities for myself and see what I thought of them. I have to say I loved them all bar one the Egremont Russet. That was just too rustic for me. I hadn’t really thought about it before but I do like a shiny skin on my apples. And actually one of my favourite ways to eat them is sliced, with cheese and biscuits. I know, call me a loon.
There were five to choose from and they came with helpful tasting notes:
Egremont Russet – Russets are very distinctive apples both in terms of appearance and taste. This variety is by far the most important russet grown commercially in the UK and it is available from late September until early February.
Zari – Zari is a cross between Elstar and Delbarestivale which was raised in Belgium in the 1990s. The first volumes of English production became available in 2009. The skin is bright soft red stripes over a green background. The texture is firm, crunchy and extremely juicy with an outstanding apple flavour. English Zari is available from early September to November
English Gala – The variety was first raised in New Zealand in 1934 by J. H. Kidd. Considerable selective breeding took place in the 1950s to improve the variety. Today, Gala is the largest single variety of eating apple produced in England. The apple has an attractive red striped skin and the flavour is predominantly sweet. Texture is crisp but not hard and is juicy. First English supplies become available in late September and last until early May.
Cox – Widely regarded as the finest of all eating apples, the variety was raised by Richard Cox, a retired brewer, in 1825 in Colnbrook near Slough. Originally named Cox’s Orange Pippin, improved strains combining greater colour and size with the variety’s unique taste have been planted in modern orchards. The flavour is a superb balance of sugars with tartness together with a wonderfully honeyed aroma. Texture is firm but not hard with good levels of juice. English Cox’s are available from late September until early April
Rubens – Rubens is a cross between Gala and Elstar which was raised in Italy in 1988. Trial plantings were established in England in the early 2000s and the first commercial volumes became available all a few years later. The variety has a bright red skin colour over a green gold/ background. But the flesh is crispy, juicy and firm with a crunchy eating quality. It has a sweet taste similar to Gala but with more aroma. Supplies of English Rubens are available from October to March
The Zari was definitely my favourite. Really juicy. I loved it.
I must admit I also hadnt ever really paid much attention the fact that so many apple varieties are English, and so many are not. There is no reason why we should be importing apples from abroad (think of the air miles alone!) when we have so many amazing apples to choose from locally. In fact we have two trees in our garden that we really need to make more from. I tend to forget about them during the week and then just try and rescue the wind falls at the weekend which is such a waste.
Never one to miss a giggle, I also got the pets in on the action with this taste test. I had no idea until this summer that dogs like apples. We were at our friend’s house in France and her three adorable dogs polished off an apple each in seconds. I was astonished! And had forgotten about it until this morning when I wondered if Cheeky would do the same. I was convinced he would turn his nose up at them but actually, he loved it (you can see the video here on Instagram :
We also had a go at getting the cat involved but she was having none of it, even if she does rock a mean William Tell impression
How about you, which is your favourite apple variety?