Crunch time: apple season
HEIRLOOM apples are maturing just beyond the Blue Mountains and soon Granny Smith will be in the ute heading to Orange for the annual apple harvest. From Borry Gartell’s and Gaye Stuart-Nairne’s Mount Canobolas orchard and vineyard last year we collected the wonderful Cox’s Orange Pippin, Lady of The Snows, Crofton, Lord Lambourne, Five Crown, Carrington and Bramley’s Seedling. These are a mix of what English orchardists and fruiters call ‘cookers’ and ‘eaters’. One of our customers was delighted that we could find for her Bramley’s Seedling, which is ‘without doubt the definitive English cooking apple, and in terms of flavour ranks as one of the world’s great culinary apples’, according to orangepippin.com.
‘Although England has produced a large number of excellent ‘cookers’, Bramley is so dominant that the others are largely forgotten,’ says orangepippin. ‘Most cooks reach automatically for the trusty Bramley, and it is equally prevalent in commercial apple bakery products in the United Kingdom. Its key feature is the very high level of acidity, and the excellent strong apple flavour it lends to any apple dish.
‘In England a clear distinction is made between ‘eaters’ and ‘cookers’. English apple cookery usually calls for apples which cook to a puree – and the intense acidity of Bramley’s Seedling guarantees the lightest and fluffiest of purees. This contrasts with the traditions of other countries, notably France and the United States, where cooks often prefer apples which keep their shape in cooking. For this reason Bramley’s Seedling is not as well-known outside England as some of the other popular English apple varieties. It is quite widely planted in gardens in Denmark (where by 1938 it was considered to be the fourth most popular variety grown) and is now becoming popular in the USA as a result of increasing interest in English apple varieties.’
Orangepippin says that Bramley’s Seedling trees are extremely vigorous – at least a size larger than most other apple varieties on any given rootstock – and reasonably easy to grow, but that a single tree needs two different pollinating apple trees nearby to ensure successful pollination.
Bramley’s are also notably long-lived. The bicentenary of the discovery of Bramley’s Seedling in 2009 was matched by the original tree, still alive in the same garden in Nottinghhamshire, England, where it was planted as a pip by a young girl, Mary Ann Brailsford, in 1809. Orangepippin says Bramley’s takes its name from a subsequent owner of the house, a Mr Bramley who allowed a local nurseryman to propagate it in the 1850s on condition that it was given his name.
Granny Smith expects to have a range of heirloom apples available from late February, through March, and into early April.