I thought the news about apples last week was a little sad. It was announced that sales of Gala apples had overtaken Cox apples for the first time. Gala was proclaimed “Britain’s favourite apple”.
The Gala apple cultivar is a hybrid (Kidd's Orange Red × Golden Delicious) that originated in New Zealand. It was first grown commercially in the UK in the 1980s and is now widely cultivated. It is firm and crisp, with a mild and sweet-flavour.
The Cox’s Orange Pippin, which it has supplanted in popularity, was first grown in 1825 in Buckinghamshire by the retired brewer and horticulturists Richard Cox. It has long been an iconic English fruit. It is a sweet crisp dessert apple, but less sweet and less bland in flavour than Gala. I prefer the Cox, as you might have guessed.
Most people now buy their apples in supermarkets. There will be a choice, if you are lucky, of four or five different cultivars. These may largely be imported; having been flown from, for example, Spain, the USA and New Zealand.
Brogdale Farm, near Faversham in Kent, is home to the National Fruit Collections. It is owned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and maintained by the University of Reading. The Collection contains around 1,800 varieties (2,222 individual accessions) of apple, along with hundreds of varieties of pear, plums, cherries and bush fruits.
The genetic resources conserved at Brogdale can be used to help breed new apple varieties for the UK market, to keep up with changing public tastes and to meet the challenges posed by climate change. Over recent decades English orchards have declined in area, but the decline may be over. Consumers can influence the outcome, by buying local produce.
Michael Leapman in the Daily Telegraph:
The names of the 2,222 apple accessions in the National Fruits Collection:
(A-Z: All. Search: Apples)