It’s apple time again.
And the old Grenadier Apple tree in the kitchen garden is loaded with fruit. This tree was one of the two original plantings (the other being the pink camellia) that we kept when we cleared the garden.
We never do much to the tree apart from the odd prune and it has enormous crops year after year. Friends have been known to come from as far away as Orkney with an empty suitcase to collect “a few”....
I didn’t know what variety of apple this was for some time until someone that knew their apples enlightened me . Until then I had been describing it variously as a cooking apple or a Bramley type apple.
It’s an early ripening cooking apple, the first have been ready for a couple of weeks. It doesn’t keep beyond a few weeks in a cold place. But it makes the most wonderful pies and purees. It’s also great for jellies and jams. We‘ve never tried making cider with Grenadier maybe this is the year to give it a go.
When I did some research I discovered that not much is known about the origins of the Grenadier apple but it appeared sometime in the mid 19th century and was quite widely grown for a while. Apart from it’s poor keeping qualities (not much use in the days of supermarkets and the desired long shelf life) it’s partial demise was put down to it’s appearance. It has been described in various texts as “lumpen” and “ribbed” and “ugly”. I think this does the apple a great disservice as it is grown for its taste rather than it’s looks.
Grenadier is also quite an easy apple tree to grow in the garden, being reliable, resistant to the common apple diseases, and not too vigerous. We find that the apples ripen over a number of weeks which tends to overcome it’s poor cooking qualities.The tree is fairly compact making it ideal for all but the smallest garden.
Being a soft cooking apple and having recently hard landscaped the area under the apple tree with box hedges and slate, we found that many of the apple hit the ground if not with a “splat” at least with a bounce that bruises them and in some instances breaks them open. Then they are left for the wildlife or end up in the compost heap.
So to prevent this we came up with a cunning plan....a net suspended under the tree to catch the apples as they fall. We got the idea from the nets used to catch the olive crop in the Mediterranean.
It was a bit of a hassle suspending the net all the way round the tree (where would we be without plastic ties?) but with a bit of pulling and stretching we managed well enough.
When the apples start to ripen they need to be checked almost daily. The apple is ripe if it comes away in your hand when cupped gently and and twisted.
We’re having friends to stay so apple crumble is on the menu.