Consuming Issues: Crunch time for our core assets as English apple season approaches

Their names drip history as juicily as their flesh. Allington Pippin, Demelow's Seedling, Sir John Thorneycroft, Hoary Morning; all hint at the rich heritage and provenance of English apples.

Britain has 2,300 varieties of apples, with a few hundred more cider specialities, though you wouldn't know that from the shops.

Supermarkets, which sell 80 per cent of the fruit, typically stock only four or five varieties. Greengrocers and street markets are little better. This is the time of year, though, to make the most of the home-grown apples, wherever they can be found.

Thanks to an exceptionally good year, the first of this summer's harvest arrived at a Tesco in Sevenoaks in Kent two weeks ago.

For most of us, the English apple season starts on August 10 and continues to December, with a few stragglers lingering until March. During these eight months, those wildlife-rich units of the countryside – orchards – produce 240,000 tonnes of glorious, lip-smackingly sweet spheres.

Most are not Hoary Mornings or Allington Pippins ("sharp but agreeable flavour, pale greenish yellow with a little red"). They are the cheddars of the apple world: ubiquitous, ordinary and everyday enjoyable.

Forty per cent of eating apples are grown in the UK but often imported Galas and Braeburns. Other varieties bouncing off the shelves – Pink Lady, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious – cannot be produced here.

Demand for all-year-round imports from the likes of New Zealand, 11,000 miles away, have cut the number of English orchards by 60 per cent in the last 30 years and by a third since 1997.

The good news is that the supermarket chains have responded to the public outcry and, after more than a decade of decline, English orchards are thriving again.

"The situation began to stabilise after 2001 and four years ago there was an upsurge in demand for local supplies," says Adrian Barlow, chief executive of English Apples & Pears. "This was due to wider recognition of the quality of English apples combined with growing consumer concerns about climate change and carbon emissions."

Consumer power has halted the decline. What we need to do now is buy more English apples (production could double, according to Mr Barlow), particularly the more unusual ones. They could be found at street markets, farm shops or a neighbour's garden.

When author Tristram Stuart placed an advert on his local Freecycle website in Sussex ("Wanted: Apples"), he was so bombarded by fruit that he set up an old-fashioned press on a village green and squeezed 550 pints of apple juice, some of which became cider.

If you have an apple tree at home, you can take an apple for identification to one of hundreds of apple-tasting and juicing events taking place across the country on Apple Day, October 21.

"It seems amazing that when our season is going on you can still pick up half-dead apples from the other side of the world," says Sue Clifford, a director of Common Ground, Apple Day's co-ordinator.

But only eat them in season, she adds. "By May, the strawberries and plums are arriving and there is a whole new world of wonderful fruits that you can pack in before the next apples arrive."

Hero: Cadbury

Fairtrade versions of Dairy Milk have gone into 30,000 shops, helping thousands of small farmers in Ghana and making the British chocolate giant the biggest global buyer of Fairtrade cocoa. And the price is staying the same.

Villains: Ryanair

In 18 months, Ryanair has raised credit card charges from £2 to £5 and debit card charges from 70p to £5 per person, per flight. Wizz has increased debit card charges from 70p to £4 each way. Flights are still cheap, but not as much as they look.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

    £15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

    Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

    Day In a Page

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy