Whilst we should be out digging over the allotment and tackling the ever growing mounds of weeds, October’s bumper apple crop has provided us with a welcome distraction and, dare we say, excuse to stay in the comfort of the kitchen to peel, core and preserve. Many of our apples this year have been bartered for at one or other of our Food Swaps, which were awash with numerous varieties of dessert and cooking apples.
One of the more unusual varieties we came across at a Food Swap in Conwy, Wales was the Catshead apple, a large conical shaped fruit, named due to its supposed resemblance in shape to a cat’s head. Catshead apples are apparently one of the oldest known varieties in England, originating in the pre 1600’s. They require little additional sugar as they’re sweeter than your average cooking apple, they keep well for between one to two months and are perfect stewed.
October 21st is of course Apple Day, our national celebration of all things apple related. What you may be surprised to discover is that it’s a relatively new celebration, initiated in 1990 by Common Ground, a charity that explores and champions the idea of local distinctiveness, mapping and capturing the customs and rituals particular to individual places. Their aim with Apple Day was to ‘create a calendar custom, an autumn holiday, both a celebration and a demonstration of the variety we are in danger of losing, not simply in apples, but in the richness and diversity of landscape, ecology and culture too.’ Their intriguing website is well worth exploring and includes a section on their projects around apples and orchards – click on the beautiful apple painting on their home page.