I don’t usually shop in the supermarket but I found myself in one last week, trying to buy some fruit in a hurry. Apples are my first choice at this time of year, and England has had a good season for them. Scanning the shelves, I struggled to find a single apple that had been grown in the UK.
The terrible truth is that up to 65% of the apples on the shelves during the English season are foreign imports. And this isn’t because we don’t produce enough to supply our demand, supermarkets just don’t choose to stock them.
One of the great fruits of Britain is the apple and there are so many fantastic British varieties. Each apple type has its own unique characteristics. From the subtle nutty, almost dry texture of the Egremont Russet to the deliciously sweet and floral flavour of the Worcester Pearmain, via the intriguingly sharp and tangy Crispin.
Apple trees grow all over the countryside, even in the cities too. Whether wild or cultivated, this is the time of year to see trees laden with the beautiful fruit.
One of my favourite apples to cook with is the Herefordshire Russet, the best for making toffee apples, a perfect Halloween treat. For something more sophisticated, try the apple meringue or tarte tatin. They’re also excellent with pork or fowl. I like braising pheasants with apples and cider or slipping a few slices around roast pork.