Verjuice was certainly widely used across Europe by the Romans (and may have been used prior to this) and its use persisted as a cooking ingredient throughout the Middle Ages. Unripe grapes were thinned to increase quality and ripening, and with a waste-not-want-not culture they were pressed to produce a souring agent. Since the Romans introduced orchards as they travelled, we suspect that the same process would have been used to produce apple verjuice.
Using a select blend mix of apples from our very own orchard in Herefordshire, we have developed our own truly unique apple verjuice. Pleasingly sour, like lemon juice or vinegar, with a little sweetness to complement its intense fruitiness, the only thing it really compares to is tamarind.
We like to use it to add depth and sharpness to dressings, stews, condiments and soups, and an exciting substitute for sauces where white wine is called for (it is divine in a beurre blanc). It’s delicious in marinades for white meats and fish, gives a unique twist to cakes, and can really enliven cocktails and mocktails!
Go to our list of stockists to find where to buy this and our other deliciously appley products.
Gala is now the biggest selling apple variety in the UK and over the next few years production is expected to increase by another 40 per cent. With its sweet flavour and attractive, sunset-red stripes, it is perhaps easy to see why it is so popular. Gala, like the equally ubiquitous Braeburn, is an apple of New Zealand origin. They both became popular in the 1990s due to their availability in the UK’s off-season. Trial orchards of these antipodean apples were planted and the effect has been a revival of the English apple industry with figures from 2011 showing 39 per cent apples sold here were grown here. This is good news for apple growers, but many people mourn the lack of traditional British apples on our supermarket shelves.
Raymond Blanc, the two michelin starred chef, believes that it is our addiciton to sugar that has led to the popularity of these New Zealand varieties. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph in 2014, he suggested that consumers confuse sweetness with flavour. In his view, the best tasting apples, such as the Cox’s Orange Pippin, have a complex flavour that combine a mix of sweet, sour, acid and bitter. So, this is our guide to a few apples that sadly aren’t available in our supermarkets but which we at Orchard Origins think are delicious. Continue reading
Juicing is a great way of processing plenty of apples and enjoying them long after the eating season is over. At our purpose-built juicing facility in Herefordshire we are able to produce apple juice to retail standards, so whether you want juice for your own consumption or intend to sell it on you can rest assured that our juicing and bottling service is of the highest quality. Continue reading
You may well be thinking that life is too short to spend time in the orchard thinning fruit. In our view, any time spent in an orchard is a bonus. There are, though, some good reasons to thin fruit particularly if your trees are heavy croppers. The main one is that the tree will produce better quality and size fruit – albeit fewer of them – but there are other benefits
- heavy crops can cause limb damage
- fruit will ripen more evenly as more light and air can penetrate the branches
- it may help reduce the spread of pests and diseases
- heavy cropping in young trees can set them back
Sourcing specific apple varieties or discovering new ones can be difficult and very time-consuming. Garden centres tend to stock only the popular varieties and more specialist nurseries are few and far between. Help is at hand. The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is launching the first online database which lists every known UK-grown variety of orchard fruit from apples and pears to medlars and mulberries providing a way for gardeners, cider-makers and orchard owners to find nurseries that sell them. Continue reading
Losing a branch through storm damage or from the weight of too much fruit can create unwanted gaps in the canopy. Cut Three in our Guide To Best Pruning Practice, is useful when you want to stimulate the growth of new shoots so that the tree can develop a replacement limb. This particular cut needs to come with a health warning, though, as it is the most misunderstood and misused pruning cut. Unlike Cut One, you will be pruning two-year or older wood so it is important to understand how the tree will respond. Continue reading
Correct pruning keeps fruit trees healthy. Trees with few overlapping or competing limbs have a better chance of a long fruitful life. In young and mature trees, allowing more sunlight and air to penetrate the canopy aids tree health and fruit production. Older and veteran trees can be kept in balance, or even rebalanced to prevent them from falling. However, the very act of pruning is causing a wound to the tree. Using the right pruning technique, a tree will seal the wound using its own mechanisms and little harm will come to the tree.
As part of our Guide To Best Pruning Practice In Four Cuts, this blog will look at Cut Two which is used when removing a whole branch back to the trunk or parent branch. Continue reading