OF all our fruits, it’s the apple that says the most about us. There are thousands of varieties, all dependent on climate, taste and locality. Each as individual as a human. Some have been bred deliberately and others such as the Blenheim Orange discovered by chance in Woodstock. Nature and Man have worked together to give us this astonishing choice; some apples ripen early, others are good keepers; some are sweet, others make splendid cooking apples for tarts and pies, others lend themselves to cider making. It’s been claimed that you could eat a different apple a day for six years and still not come to the end of our varieties.
The apple famously inspired Sir Isaac Newton in his study of gravity and others have been used in a wide variety of games. Wassailing, when villagers visit the orchard to toast the apple trees in midwinter to ensure their health, still takes place in parts of Britain.
And then there are the wonderful names of the apples: Chivers Delight, Burr Knot, Millicent Barnes, Cornish Gilliflower, Hocking’s Yellow, The Rattler, Hen’s Turds, Lady’s Finger of Lancaster, Granny Giffard and Clopton Red to pick a few of my favourites. Our peculiar language put to delightful use. MH