16 June 2011

Apples - British to the core

Horticulturalist Chris Beardshaw presented a one hour program on BBC Four about the apple in British history. He also wrote for BBC News Magazine. Excerpt
Some of the world's best-loved apples, like the Braeburn and the Bramley, were discovered growing as chance seedlings, gifts from nature that just happened to taste good. The Granny Smith was discovered growing out of a rubbish heap in Australia.

So while the apple seeks only to multiply rather than reproduce the same delicious fruits, man had to fathom how to clone it with an ancient process known as grafting, which remains the same to this day. With the discovery of grafting we could clone our favourite apple trees again and again.

The Bramley, one of Britain's most prosperous and time-honoured apples, was planted 200 years ago in Nottinghamshire. That first tree was grown from a pip by a young woman, Mary Ann Brailsford, between 1809 and 1815. Since then every single Bramley apple ever eaten and tree planted has originated from it. That's a lot, with the Bramley apple industry is worth £50m today.

The pip most probably came from an apple on a tree at the bottom of her garden. The seedling produced such fine apples that in 1837 a local nurseryman asked the next occupier of the house, Matthew Bramley, for his permission to graft scions from the tree. Bramley agreed as long as the apples bore his name. Ms Brailsford never knew the fame her apples achieved.
Read more.

The Granny Smith can be a rather tart apple but is still very popular in Australia. Other varieties such as Gala and Pink Lady are becoming more popular ahead of Red Delicious.

As much as apples are "British to the core", even the United States has its own Johnny Appleseed legend and apples in the form of apple pie are American as.

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