Monthly Archives: October 2019

  • Celebrating Apple Day

    Did you know that the UK produces thousands of apple varieties? From the Bloody Ploughman in north-east Scotland to the Slack ma Girdle in the far South West of England, our orchards are home to varieties that go back hundreds of years - and many of them have wonderful names.

    To mark Apple Day on 21 October, here are 10 of the best!

    Anglesey Pig Snout - So-called because of its shape, this Welsh wonder is thought to originate from the early 1600s. Although largely culinary, it can be eaten as a dessert apple, too.

    Brown Snout - Another snout, this time from Herefordshire. Dating back to the mid-1800s, it produces a sweet apple juice and a mild to bittersweet cider.

    Bloody Ploughman - A spectacular deep red dessert apple from Perthshire. According to legend, it takes its name from a ploughman who was shot dead when a gamekeeper caught him scrumping apples.

    Cat’s Head - One of the oldest apple varieties in England - possibly going as far back as the 11th century. The cooker is so-called because of its supposed resemblance to the shape of a cat’s head.

    Greasy Butcher - Not much is known about this apple, other than it goes back a long way and was once found in orchards in South Devon. Probably a cider apple.

    Hoary Morning - A Somerset dessert and culinary variety first recorded in the early 1800s, this apple has a striking colour scheme, with pink and red stripes on its flesh. The name ‘hoary’ refers to its white bloom.

    Isaac Newton’s Tree - These cookers are direct descendants the original tree in Isaac Newton’s Lincolnshire garden, where the idea of gravity came to him when he watched an apple fall to the ground in the 17th century.

    Pig Skin - Another Anglesey apple with a memorable name. This variety is a sweet, colourful dessert apple dating back to the 1850s and gets its name from its rough skin.

    Slack ma Girdle - A heritage apple from Devon, producing sweet cider and good for jams. Lots of stories surround the name, some suggesting it’s about waistlines, another that it means “slack my girl”.

    Sops in Wine - Thought to originate in Cornwall in the 1800s, this is a lovely red variety of apple. It’s a good all-rounder and famed for its pink juice.

    After decades of decline and destruction of our orchards, there’s been a renewed interested in these fabulous old apple varieties in recent times - we’ll raise a glass to that!

  • Celebrating the colours of Autumn

    Autumn: for many of us, the most glorious season of the year, with all those hues of gold, yellow, orange, bronze and red.

    But just why do these fabulous colours emerge? And what happens to the green leaves?

    Without getting too bogged down in the science behind it, leaves get their colour from three pigments: green comes from chlorophyll, yellow from carotenes and reds from anthocyanins.

    The pigments are all present within the leaves, but during Spring and Summer, the sun and light-worshipping green chlorophyll takes over, effectively hiding the other colours.

    The arrival of shorter, cooler days breaks the chlorophyll pigment down, allowing the other pigments to suddenly become visible until eventually, they’re dominant.

    So why aren’t Autumns colours always the same?

    The answer is simple - it’s all down to the weather. If we get lots of very cold nights in Autumn, we’ll see more yellows because the temperatures will kill off the chlorophyll pigment and the carotenes will flourish.

    Warmer nights, on the other hand, are good for anthocyanins, which is why we see more reds and fewer yellows if we have a mild Autumn.

    Dry and sunny weather in Autumn has the same effect of accentuating the reds because it increases the sugar levels of leaves - something that anthocyanins love at this time of year.

    This vibrant show of colour doesn’t last long, just a few short weeks, before the leaves fall from the trees and winter takes over - so we must make the most of it while we can. We reckon a woodland walk followed by warming roast dinner is just about the perfect way to spend an Autumn day!

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