Journal for 24th September 2010Things are moving fast, the recent colder nights have accelerated the ripening process.
Cox for store has been picked in all regions, also Conference Pears. Gala is well under way and the later varieties, Rubens, Cameo, Kanzi, Jazz and Braeburn will start picking in early October. The quality is very good, sugars are high; denoting good flavour, although yields are possibly 10% down on 2009.
My intention to catch the last of Adrian Scripps modern intensive Conference pears being picked failed by 'minutes' when I arrived on Tuesday morning. All picked and on route to store.
The English Apple Man has visited several high profile Supermarkets over the last week. On Saturday 18th during a visit to Sainsburys in Hastings, East Sussex, English Cox, Early Windsor, Worcester Pearmain, Bramley and Conference Pears were on display. My first thought was 'are they on sale a bit too early' but while the Conference are very firm, they do have good sugars and will eat well if kept in the fruit bowl for a few days. Early Windsor with it's 'tangy' slightly acidic flavour is a good eat and much to my surprise, the Cox eats very well with surprisingly good flavour for so early in the season. My only disappointment was the Worcester which lacked flavour.
On Tuesday a visit to Waitrose in Tonbridge Kent produced only English Conference Pears and Worcester Pearmain, apart from the ever present Bramley, amongst the usual imported varieties. It must be said that Waitrose have always had a policy of waiting until varieties deliver a guarantee of flavour and texture before stocking new season fruit. The Conference are as expected very firm, but deliver a pleasant crisp eat.
The Worcester Pearmain are a good eat with more than a hint of that memorable flavour so much part of my youth! It is worth remembering that Worcester Pearmain was THE dominant English variety before the second world war, only losing it's number one spot to Cox in the post war years.
A visit to Tesco on Wednesday delivered little in the way of English Apples. The ever present Bramley cooking apple, plus a modest display of Worcester Pearmain, which eats well. English Conference Pears are the most obvious of English Top Fruit. The mass display is dominated by imported apples.
Hopefully the presence of English Apples will accelerate rapidly in the next week or two,
By far the most committed retailer is Morrisons. As you enter the store the striking display of English Apple & Pears is the first thing you see. The presentation and position is perfect, a refreshing alternative to the 'sea of imported' fruit hiding the odd box of English which seems to be the standard in Tesco stores.
With Cox, Early Windsor, Worcester Pearmain, Spartan, Lord Lambourne, Estivale and Zari dessert apples, plus Bramley cookers and Conference pears creating a tempting prospect for any consumer targeting English, Morrison is clearly the leader of the pack. However, while the prices are very attractive for the consumer, with many varieties on offer at £1 per bag/pack (some even at 75p) the retail value does not reflect the needs of the 'hard pressed grower'
Now you may ask, what is ZARI?
UK Zari is only available in Morrisons. These home grown apples will be available to buy only at selected Morrisons stores across the country.
The Zari apple comes from Kent based growers, Clive Gotham & Sons and is the result of years of research and testing to find the perfect eating apple to slot into the season. Chosen for its bright red stripe on a yellow-green background colouring and a sweet and delicate aroma, the Zari is a descendent of the Elstar variety, which gives it a sweet, crispy and juicy texture. Elstar is one of the most popular eating apples in Holland and Belgium, but has never really taken off in England.
A quote from Morrisons
Jonathan Hooper, Apple Buyer for Morrisons comments: “We’ve worked closely with our supplier to develop this unusual variety, we sold this apple for the first time last year and have brought it back due to popular demand.
“We know our customers love the British apple season and so we do all that we can to bring them more choice each year .The Zari has a really exciting eating quality and we’re sure it’ll offer a tasty bite to the 2010 apple season.
"It’s a super tasty eating apple that we hope will become a firm fixture at the start of every UK apple season.”
Zari is currently retailing for £1.50 for 6 apples in Morrisons, the same as English Gala. It has very good texture and a nice balance between acidity and sugars.
The EA Mans wife gave it the thumbs up!
The EAM was very disappointed to find the Conference Pears (£1 a bag of 6 pears) had two rotting pears in the bag!
Enjoying the benefit of Pick Your Own!
On Monday, The English Apple Man joined his neighbour on a visit to Maynards Fruit Farm in the village of Ticehurst, East Sussex. 'Said' neighbour is one of the 'old school' who annually make the pilgrimage to PYO for Strawberies, Raspberries, Plums and apples for eating and cooking over the next 2-3 months.
Maynards is one of the earliest PYO enterprises, founded by the current owner's father and mother way back in the 1960's. Over the decades many others have attempted to cash in on the PYO opportunity. It is due to the growing expertise and a determination by the Maynard Family to 'outlast' the many 'imposters' that they are now the only proper PYO business for many miles around!
Next week I am off to meet my grower friends in The West Midlands. As a result next week's Journal will feature my recent visit to The Weald of Kent Ploughing Match
The English Apple Man