Ap­ple Day

Hampshire Life - - Inside -

Cel­e­brat­ing this lo­cal tra­di­tion

As the au­tumn har­vest be­gins so do the cel­e­bra­tions of the hum­ble ap­ple. This year’s Ap­ple Day will see press­ing, bob­bing and the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of new and old va­ri­eties. CLAIRE PITCHER un­cov­ers what the county has in store

From Granny Smiths to Golden De­li­cious, there are over 2,000 va­ri­eties of ap­ple and hun­dreds of these types are grown in Great Bri­tain. Avail­able to eat all year round, we were all told as chil­dren that ‘an ap­ple a day keeps the doc­tor away’. Well, it wasn’t sim­ply an old wives’ tale. Ap­ples are very rich in an­tiox­i­dants and di­etary fi­bre; plus they are full of vi­ta­mins in­clud­ing A and C as well as K and B7 as well as be­ing low in choles­terol.

The na­tion’s (now sec­ond favourite be­hind grapes) fruit has been grown in Bri­tain since Ro­man times, the first men­tion by King Al­fred in 885AD. For hun­dreds of years we’ve been cul­ti­vat­ing our favourite va­ri­eties and each Oc­to­ber since 1990 we’ve cel­e­brated them all on Ap­ple Day.

This year’s events take place on or around Oc­to­ber 21 and there are plenty of ways to honor our ap­ples. The group that first launched Ap­ple Day in 1990, Com­mon Ground, set the date aside in the hope ap­ple lovers would come to­gether not only as a cel­e­bra­tion but also a demon­stra­tion of the va­ri­eties we are in dan­ger of los­ing. Now an in­te­gral part of the cal­en­dar for many of the coun­try’s vil­lages, or­chards and mar­kets, ac­tiv­i­ties are or­gan­ised by the WI, Na­tional Trust Prop­er­ties, Wildlife Trusts and schools and col­leges across the land.

We have plenty of com­mu­nity or­chards in Hamp­shire too, as well as those food pro­duc­ers who lov­ingly grow and har­vest ap­ples to bring to mar­ket as well our su­per­mar­kets. William Wolmer is man­ag­ing direc­tor of Black­moor Es­tate near Sel­borne, which has been grow­ing fruit and fruit trees for nearly 100 years. “It’s one of only two re­main­ing com­mer­cial ‘top fruit’ (that’s ap­ples and pears) grow­ers in Hamp­shire – the ma­jor­ity be­ing grown in Kent and Here­ford­shire,” points out William. His role has him over­see­ing or­chards, the fruit nurs­ery and arable as well as some res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial prop­erty lets. He’s the fourth gen­er­a­tion of his fam­ily to do so.

“As well as tra­di­tional favourites like Cox’s, Egre­mont Rus­set and Bram­ley we grow a wide range of old and new ap­ple va­ri­eties in­clud­ing fa­mil­iar ones such as Gala and Brae­burn and the less well known Red Wind­sor, Opal, Evelina and Nor­folk Royal Rus­set. We also grow Con­fer­ence, Con­corde and Comice pears and seven va­ri­eties of cher­ries,” he says.

When har­vest comes around each au­tumn work be­gins at Black­moor at 7.30am each day. “All ap­ples are care­fully picked by hand to avoid bruis­ing and put into large crates called ‘bins’. These are quickly moved into store. Some ap­ples – such as early sea­son Dis­cov­ery – are best

eaten im­me­di­ately while oth­ers – such as Cox’s, ben­e­fit from a pe­riod of stor­age where the starches turn to sugar mean­ing they are best eaten at Christ­mas,” William ex­plains.

With all the hard work hap­pen­ing at the or­chards and nurs­ery, it’s sur­pris­ing to dis­cover that Black­moor also man­ages to or­gan­ise an an­nual Ap­ple

Day. In fact, this is their 48th year of host­ing an ‘Ap­ple Tast­ing Day’. “We think that makes it the long­est run­ning Ap­ple Day in the coun­try,” states William. “My fa­ther had the bright idea to show­case English ap­ple va­ri­eties in sea­son and over the years it has be­come a hugely pop­u­lar free ru­ral event with craft fair and farm­ers’ mar­ket rais­ing funds for lo­cal char­i­ties.” The date for this year’s event is Sun­day, 14 Oc­to­ber and will pro­vide a rare op­por­tu­nity for fruit en­thu­si­asts to taste a wide va­ri­ety of the old and new ap­ple and pear va­ri­eties grown at the es­tate. You can try tra­di­tional favourites like Cox’s Orange Pip­pin and Nor­folk Royal Rus­set as well as ex­cit­ing new va­ri­eties like Opal and Rubens. There will also be ap­ple ‘doc­tors’ on hand to help iden­tify mys­tery ap­ples and ap­ple ail­ments. Plus there will be fruit trees and plants to buy at the nurs­ery, horse and cart rides; cakes and teas; climb­ing wall; Mor­ris danc­ing; and cider of course.

Black­moor Es­tate isn’t the only place in the county where Ap­ple­based fes­tiv­i­ties are tak­ing place:


This Na­tional Trust prop­erty near Rom­sey will be hold­ing events through­out Oc­to­ber in cel­e­bra­tion of the har­vest. From gath­er­ing fallen leaves to for­ag­ing ap­ples, this au­tum­nal themed oc­ca­sion in­volves plenty of hands-on ac­tiv­i­ties and the chance to learn more about the es­tate. na­tion­al­trust.org.uk/ mot­t­is­font


Find out how to make cider the old fash­ioned way on Oc­to­ber 13 and 14 at the An­nual Steam Press­ing Week­end at New For­est Cider in Bur­ley. This is a chance to see vin­tage cider presses in ac­tion, rang­ing from a ‘work­man’ steam driven mo­bile press to the sim­pler hand op­er­ated twin screw press us­ing straw as a fil­ter. Then, of course, you can sam­ple the fin­ished prod­uct in the farm shop. The cider mak­ing starts at 11am un­til 4.30pm. new­forest­cider.co.uk


Ap­ple Day in New Alresford takes place in and around the pretty St John’s Church on Satur­day, 13 Oc­to­ber. This free event, from mid­day to 5pm, will see the church­yard filled with vis­i­tors able to try and buy ev­ery type of ap­ple-based pro­duce. There’s also the chance to bring your ap­ples to make your own juice us­ing the on-site ap­ple press. When you’re fin­ished press­ing, there will also be com­pe­ti­tions to en­ter, fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment, food and fun games. Ring the Parish Of­fice on 01962 733545.


Join Mr Chris Bird, M.Hort

(RHS) of Sparsholt Col­lege when he re­turns with some of his col­leagues and for­mer stu­dents for a day of his­toric ap­ple wis­dom at Houghton Lodge Gar­dens near Stock­bridge. It’s all part of their event on Sun­day, 30 Septem­ber, cel­e­brat­ing their her­itage ap­ples. ‘Her­itage Ap­ples’ are va­ri­eties not avail­able across to­day’s su­per­mar­kets and shops. They were in abun­dance around 80 years ago when ap­ple or­chards were on ev­ery cor­ner and in most gar­dens, but sadly with the lack of man­power after both world wars, new farm­ing tech­niques and more prof­itable uses of the land, the or­chards were lost.

Be­tween 11am and 4pm you may also like to visit their gar­dens to see over 32 va­ri­eties of ap­ple trees, as well as pear, plum, fig and kiwi trees in the kitchen gar­den and the great es­palier pear tree with a span of over 50-feet – pos­si­bly the long­est in the coun­try. En­joy some Her­itage Ap­ple Cake in the tea­rooms be­fore help­ing the lit­tle ones along the ‘Ap­ple Trail’ to find out who stole the golden ap­ple. En­try costs £6.50 for adults and £3 for chil­dren over three. houghton­lodge.co.uk


Hill Farm Or­chards will be open­ing their gates through­out half term (20 to 28 Oc­to­ber) to wel­come fam­i­lies along to pick their own ap­ples be­tween 10am and 4pm. All they ask is that you bring your own bucket or bag. There will also be the farm’s very own award-win­ning juice to taste and buy. hill­far­mor­chards.co.uk


The Me­mo­rial Or­chard is the per­fect place to cel­e­brate ev­ery­thing ap­p­ley on Sun­day, 21 Oc­to­ber. From mid­day, both the or­chard and the lo­cal com­mu­nity cen­tre will be wel­com­ing fam­i­lies and friends to en­joy free en­ter­tain­ment, mu­sic and stalls. Plus, there could even be some ap­ple press­ing.

ABOVE LEFT: William Wolmer, man­ag­ing direc­tor at Black­moor Es­tateABOVE RIGHT: Pick your own ap­ples and sam­ple Hill Farm’s iconic ap­ple juice in Swan­moreLEFT: Cider has to be one of the best ways to en­joy ap­ples

ABOVE: Sam­ple her­itage ap­ples at Houghton Lodge Gar­dens

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