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
Pruning an apple tree can be a daunting prospect, but try not to give into your fear. Planting a tree and walking away to leave it to its own devices is not advisable. Trees that are not pruned will produce less fruit over time and the branches will become congested and diseased. Pruning does not need to be complicated. Taking time to understand the theory behind it certainly helps. It’s also useful to bear in mind the number 3. You’ll be surprised how often it turns up when you are making your pruning decisions. Continue reading
As autumn flows seamlessly into winter, our orchards are still full of activity. Windfalls provide a vital source of late food for many species of birds and mammals. Fieldfares, redwings, mistle and song thrushes, blackbirds, jays all have a liking for ripe apples, as do badgers, foxes, hedgehogs and hares. Continue reading
The Peoples Trust for Endangered Species is offering to fund replacement planting for traditional orchards that are in need of new trees. This to ensure that these orchards survive for the next hundred years and beyond.
This fantastic offer is open to any owner or manager of an existing traditional orchard be it a community orchard, or a privately-owned or managed orchard. The grants can cover the cost of the trees themselves, or the cost of rootstocks onto which existing varieties in your orchard, or a variety of your choice, can be grafted. Continue reading