Saturday, 1 October 2011

Hughenden Manor Apple Day

Wow, what a scorcher! I have returned home from a wonderful day at the Hughenden Manor Apple Fair, sampling some of the 50+ varieties of apples grown on the estate. It was fascinating to learn about how the flavour of these apples changes in storage and how different flavours can be gained by leaving the apples a little longer on the tree. With so many apples to choose from I finally plumped for 2 eating varieties to bring home for my family to try: Rosemary’s Russett and Ellison Orange.

The picture below shows the two varieties of apples I purchased today. The larger apples are Ellison Orange and the smaller apples are the Rosemary's Russett.

Rosemary’s Russett:
I am told that this old variety of apple isn’t a heavy cropper but it certainly has a rich flavour. The apple is lightly russetted meaning it is easy to eat and doesn’t have the bitter skin of other russett apples.

Ellison’s Orange:
I was immediately astonished by the huge size of this eating apple! It is much larger than anything sold in a supermarket and is easily bigger than some bramley apples. The skin is delicate and the flesh is smooth and soft, very sweet but slightly acidic. I understand that this variety of apple is a cross of the Cox’s Orange Pippin.

Another interesting footnote of the day is that I finally have an identification for a wild apple tree I discovered last year in local woodland. I stumbled across this tree whilst looking for chestnuts and was surprised to see apples so late in the season. I am now certain from seeing apple specimens today that the variety is the Ashridge Brownlees Russett. I have learnt that the Brownlees Russett was a popular late variety in the Victorian era but has faded into obscurity. The skin is a little tough but the apple flesh within is crisp and it stores well. Brownlees Russett:

Whilst at the Apple Fair today I also had the opportunity to try something completely different – mulled cider. Whilst not completely to my taste (as someone who prefers a G&T to cider!) I did like the depth of flavour and it’s always fun to try something new. The brewer was using a Schwartz recipe as follows:

1 litre cider
8 cloves
1 cinnamon stick broken in 2
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 orange
Sugar to taste

Half the orange and stick a few cloves in each half
Pour the cider into saucepan adding all the other ingredients including the orange
Heat until simmering
The spices and sugar can be adjusted to suit your tastes

Overall I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a summery October day. I was also at the Apple Fair in my capacity as a Master Composter/Love Food Hate Waste Advisor and our stall was pleasantly busy. There was a good mix of people who have never composted, those who have already been composting for years and the beginners who could use a little more advice.

The beautiful surroundings at Hughenden Manor.

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