Evolving there over countless millennia, the apple was then spread westward by bears, horses and man, being documented in Greek and Roman times. It was probably brought to us by the Romans, although Celtic mythology may have us think otherwise.
Fast forward to today. Nature and the horticulturalists from the 18th to the early 20th century left us a legacy of apples with mouth-watering tastes to suit all palates. These cover the season from early August to the following April or May: Irish Peach, Beauty of Bath, Worcester Permain, Discovery, St Edmund’s Pippin, James Grieve, Lord Lambourne, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Egremont Russet, Ribston Pippin, Blenheim Orange, Ashmead’s Kernel, Rosemary Russet, Orleans Reinette, Laxton Superb, Kings Acre Pippin, Winston, Cornish Gilliflower, D’Arcy Spice, Sturmer Pippin to name but a few.
But today's main offers are of Braeburn, Gala, Pink lady, Jazz and Fiesta with the availability of Cox decreasing year on year.
As written as long ago as 1944, ‘…….the opportunity has been taken to recommend varieties to plant in fields and gardens……and these are very different things. You sell the one and the others should be so good that you would wish to eat them.’
Therein the difference: those grown today have mainly been bred abroad, thrive in warmer climates and are still largely grown abroad. They are more suitable for providing high yielding and reliable crops, more suitable for long-term storage thus fulfilling yearly contracts while maintaining crispness and flavour (and, arguably, still suit customers preferences).
But more are being grown here. This year, already, I would have been able to buy English Junami and Cripps Pink (stored), Discovery and Scrumptious (fresh from an independent store). In 2018 a new variety, English bred and grown for fresh eating, came to market, Sunburst. And trees of older varieties are readily available for the individual to grow and savour the best of English apples.