William Thomas
food & drink copywriter
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The ignoble adventures of a food & drink glutton

How d'you like them apples?

Somebody asked me the other day “what’s your favourite fruit?”. Well, after a summer gorging on some of the finest homegrown and imported fruit I can remember (intensely sweet Somerset strawberries and raspberries, peaches and nectarines from Spain so good they make you moan in pleasure, apricots, Galias, Cantaloupes, Charentais and water-melons, golden kiwis, late summer plums…), but still, when push comes to shove, it’s the humble British apple that’s my go to fruit for the rest of the year.

The new domestic apple season always excites me. Seeing which varieties arrive and when, gauging how the growing season has been, and just enjoying the characteristics of each variety – it’s a pleasure that adds hope to autumn and the fading sunshine. So here’s a look at three early UK apples I found last week in my local organic grocers. From what I can tell, 2018 apples are top drawer, but whether the dry mid-summer will reduce yields we’ll have to wait and see. My tasting notes follow the three varieties in the above picture, from left to right…

SCRUMPTIOUS
Dense ’red apple’ type skin, medium firm pinkish-white flesh. Good balanced flavour, not too sweet or acidic, notes of red plum and even a hint of bubblegum come through. Excellent.

LENA
Waxy skin, loose juicy white flesh. Bramley-esque in flavour; brightly acidic and refreshingly juicy. Flavour is pleasant, quite ‘old school’ (i.e. not ramped-up or over sweet). Almost certainly a Bramley cross of some sort. Recommended.

FALSTAFF
Light, thin skin, dense crisp flesh. Soft golden-sweet flavour, slightly exotic, even a hint of fennel (though no idea if this is the variety itself or they were just stored next to the fennel!). Not very balanced, lots of sweetness but not enough acidity to cut through.

So there you are. For me the Scrumptious takes gold out of these three. Falstaff would actually be my favourite if it had more acidity. I haven’t researched these varieties, but I imagine they’re all fairly modern hybrids. Nothing wrong with that though. Below is a shot showing the interiors, if you’re into that sort of thing…