I've been wanting to visit the Apple Day at Lotherton Hall for the last few years but for one reason or another I've always managed to miss it. Not so this year. It was held on Sunday and we got there nice and early.
The orchard was already filled with people picking the apples off the trees.
Armed with a book, which told us which tree was which variety, and a grabber, which enabled us to pick the uppermost apples, we set off to see which apples took our fancy.
The first ones we picked were Malster, a dual-purpose apple which originated in England and was known to exist in 1830. It's briskly acid when fresh, well adapted for cooking and sometimes used as a dessert apple when matured.
I chose five of these as I decided I'd make them into a crumble.
The next one was picked from a tree which didn't have much fruit on it. I'm not sure if it hadn't produced much or if it had already been stripped by others before us.
This is Edward VII, another dual-purpose apple which was first recorded in 1902, the year of the king's coronation. I only picked one of these, but I made sure that I kept it separate from the five I'd already picked from the other tree as it looked very similar.
The next tree was literally covered in fruit, I think perhaps because the apples don't look quite as attractive as some others.
Ashmead's Kernel is a dessert apple, developed in the 1700s by Dr Ashmead of Gloucester, England and is supposed to have a unique pear drop flavour.
My own Gloster apple tree has produced very well this year, the branches are literally bent by the weight of the fruit.
The apples are a deep red, very attractive to look at. I picked these four to take for my mum and dad but I picked an extra one for myself so that I could taste it and compare it to those I'd picked at Lotherton.
Now the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, so what did they taste like?
Well, the Edward VII was very tart, though it can be used as a cooker too so that's not really surprising. I don't mind a tart apple though. The Ashmead's Kernel was rather tart too, even though it's considered a dessert apple. None of us detected the unique pear drop flavour though. We tried a Gloster from my little tree in the garden alongside the ones we brought home from Lotherton, this was a much sweeter apple, a little like a Golden Delicious at first but with more of a tart aftertaste.
Both Mick and I agreed that we liked the Gloster best, followed by the Ashmead's Kernel and then the Edward VII. Eleanor totally disagreed with us, preferring the Edward VII followed by the Ashmead's Kernel and the Gloster came in last place for her. Another thing to note is that the apples from Lotherton started turning brown almost as soon as they were cut into, the Gloster held it's crisp, white colour, I'm not sure why this would be.
As for the Malster, I bought these with the intention of making a crumble but I haven't got round to that yet. Eleanor wasn't at home for tea on Monday, last night we went out for a meal with Eleanor, her boyfriend and his parents before they both return to uni, and Mick's working in Basingstoke today so he's decided to make the most of being just forty minutes away from where Daniel's now living and he's staying overnight so that he can spend the evening with him.
I'm sure the crumble will get made soon.