A homage to the star of the autumn - the apple
AS the abundance of the summer allotment becomes a distant memory, autumn brings forward a new star – the humble English apple.
It’s such a versatile fruit and one deeply associated with our food heritage whether as an accompaniment to succulent roast pork, a side to balance the sharpness of Stilton or the star of an Eaves Pudding, a Tarte Tatin or the ever delicious crumble.
As the apples begin to fall in our gardens, I wonder how many of us know that Leicestershire has more than 30 of its own native varieties and there are over 16,800 apple varieties catalogued in Great Britain as a whole.
Nigel Deacon, of the Leicestershire Heritage Apples Project, has been researching for some years now and using old nursery catalogues and magazines as well as Parish records of former village orchard sites, his work has taken him all over the county in search of native Leicestershire apple trees.
“At a time when we are becoming conscious of the value of good food produced locally, heritage apples are very important,” he says. “It is intriguing to discover varieties which have long since been forgotten.”
It is said, for example, that the Barnack Orange and Belvoir Seedling were raised by a Mr WH Divers, head gardener at Belvoir Castle and are two varieties native to Melton.
As the community orchards of the past have made way for housing estates and shops of the present, it is fantastic to see the Millennium Orchard in Hose so well used and so full of fruits which the whole village can enjoy. The Wheel at Branston, meanwhile, has just invested in a community fruit press.
Further afield the north Leicestershire village of Donisthorpe near Ashby de la Zouch not only has an orchard but celebrates each October with its annual village Apple Day.
The whole community comes together in the orchard to play games, listen to stories and collect the gorgeous ripe fruits to make apple juice. Their newly sited apple press is a pride and joy and available for the whole village to use. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if every village in our area had a community orchard to be proud of?
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Weather for Melton
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 22 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 12 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North east