Friday, 24 September 2010

Apples - les Pommes

I picked the last of this year's apple crop a couple of days ago. We have 7 varieties of apples in the orchard, but not all of them cropped this year*.

From left to right they are Reinette du Canada, Reine des Reinette, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Melrose.

Reinette du Canada appears to be some sort of russet, judging by the rough skin. The fruit is wider than it is high, and remains tart. They are the last of our apples to fully ripen, perhaps because they produce the largest fruit. Last year this one didn't crop at all, so it will be interesting to see what it does next year. An old variety, apparently it keeps extremely well.

Reine des Reinette is indeed the queen of French cooking apples, favoured by many big name chefs. It's a soft sweet apple eaten fresh, an old variety, yellow, streaked with red on more exposure to the sun. Not a great keeper, but long enough lasting that it isn't a mad panic to use them all up.

Golden Delicious, known simply as Goldens in France, are ubiquitious, by far the most popular apple here. Three of the 10 apple trees we have inherited in the orchard are Goldens. Outside of France they are greeted with scorn and derision because of their palid unappetising appearance and their tendancy to go disgustingly floury with age and cold storage. Fortunately, I knew from buying them from an organic grower when we lived in London, that a fresh Golden Delicious is a completely different creature to one purchased in the supermarket, and so I look upon our Goldens reasonably kindly.

Young Granny Smiths on the tree back in June.
Granny Smith is an Australian variety, so it is rather nice to find it in the orchard. This is the apple of my childhood. Red apples were not for me - never crisp or sour enough. The archetypal apple green coloured Granny Smith keeps well and cooks well too. According to this excellent website, the red blush on our ripe Granny Smiths in the top photo is typical of those grown in central France, where the rather cool nights cause the apple to gain a reddish tinge.

Melrose keeps very well and is a great favourite with the birds. I pick them over a period of about 6 weeks, hoping, but not succeeding, to keep ahead of the wildlife. They start off somewhat unripe, but by the last couple of weeks are just about the perfect apple, sweet and crisp. I'd never heard of this variety before we inherited this tree in the orchard, but on looking it up I see it is an American variety.

The locally popular organic apple juice from the Durand's
orchard, for sale in Vival, one of Preuilly's mini-supermarkets.
Apples do very well around Preuilly and there are several commercial orchards. You can pick your own at one on the road to le Grand Pressigny, and the people who own one on the road to Loches make the most delicious organic apple juice, which is for sale in our local supermarket. Guy Durand, the orchardist, tells me that he wants to retire, and he has put the farm up for sale. The business is expanding and I would guess is a very good opportunity for anyone who wants to take it on.


*The two trees that didn't produce a crop this year, although they cropped well last year, are Jonagored and Ballerina.


Tim said...

Susan, your Reinette du Canada are a russet... and if tart, are not yet ripe!! They shouldn't be off the tree until the end of October... and are some of the longest keepers.
Try and blag a mushroom tray and fill it with crumpled paper. Tuck the fruit in amongst the crumpled paper... with no apple touching another and put the tray somewhere cool [and rongeur secure] until the end of October... you'll notice the difference.

chm said...

I've never seen so pretty Granny Smiths. Here, in the States, they're harvested so early in the season they stay a vivid green. You need an ax to cut them in half or more. Nonetheless, I use them for apple sauce and they are delicious that way.

Tim said...

Same goes for those lovely looking Golden Delicious.... you'll never see them like that in the UK... I've only ever seen that pink blush over here... and they taste totally different... viz: they taste of something! I'm still not a fan of their texture, though.

The word verification has been on the cider..."matersh"

Amanda said...

I cannot wait for persimmons to show up (kakis in french). I have never eaten a golden delicious from a tree; I have stopped eating them a long time ago and am thankful for Ambrosia apples but am glad to know that they are good when organically grown (and picked directly from the tree). Is CHM back in SoCal?

Susan said...

Tim: The reinette du Canada seemed to come off the tree willingly, so I assumed they must be ripe. Having cut one though, I am sure you are right that they could do with a bit more tree time - I'll remember for next time. End of Oct seems a long time though? Might they be ripe sooner here than your experience in the UK? Or is this a variety you know from here?

CHM: Granny's a hard apple even when ripe.

Nadège: CHM is in Virginia I believe. It's years since I tried a persimmon - I remember not liking them at all. I don't know Ambrosia apples, but I think the real problem with Goldens seems to be the change they undergo in cold storage.

Tim said...

Reinette du Canada I only know from here... they are meant to be the same as Canadian Russet... but don't seem to be as grey brown all over.
In the UK the Canadian is left on the tree until the end of November [or first hard frosts.... which ever is earlier!]
We have Reinette Blanche apparently... and they don't look much different from yours at the moment [but some are getting a red blush on the sunward side]... but the windfalls are definately cookers at the moment... whereas the ripe fruit [again end of October] are much more yellow where they are now green and have a pronounced red/orange colour on the sunward side.... and are very tasty and juicy. [the windfalls are quite dry when cooked too!]

Diogenes said...

I did not know that Granny Smith was mother used to bake pies with those. I like the tartness.

Susan said...

Tim: most of our apples will be cooked. We have a coddling moth problem, so I am expecting at least half the crop to not store well.

Diogenes: yes, my mother cooked with them a lot too.

Pollygarter said...

In the UK, Ballerina is a style of apple tree, not a variety, with a dwarf pillar form suitable for patio growing. There are many different Ballerina varieties, and they're trademarked. Yours would have to be 'Ballerina something', e.g. 'Ballerina Maypole' which is a crab. On the other hand, it could be a French 'Ballerina' (Delbard? they aren't owning up) with juicy red fruit ripening in mid-September.

Emm said...

Your Granny Smiths are beautiful. So nice to see some with color and not uniformly green. Agree with chm about how tough they are to cut. And with you about the difference between store-bought and farmer-bought Goldens.

There's an American (?) apple called Macoun--I believe a cross between MacIntosh and perhaps Jonathan. Comes in about now, tart-sweet and fairly short shelf-life. But worth eating if you can find it.

Susan said...

Pol: It took me ages to work out what the previous owner had written on his map of the orchard for this tree, but I think it is 'Pommier Ballerine'. It is a Ballerina style I assume, with 5 very straight upright branches. It has good sized dark red fruit, good eating, reasonable keeper, ripe in early-mid September.

Emm: I'll keep an eye out for them, but I've never encountered them before.

Pollygarter said...

Sounds like Ballerina 'Polka', according to

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