The most important and widely grown fruit in the temperate climates of the world, the apple has been cultivated for over 3,000 years. Apples were always particularly valued for their keeping qualities and, until refrigeration, gas and other storage methods were introduced in the twentieth century, they were almost the only fresh fruit available during the winter.
Apples were probably introduced into Britain from Europe. From there they were taken by settlers to America and Australia and, later, seedlings of new varieties were sent back to Britain.
During the nineteenth century, amateur and professional growers developed many new varieties of apples. The most famous
English dessert apple is probably Cox’s Orange Pippin. In about 1850, a Mr. Cox, a retired brewer, raised a seedling from
Ribston, another popular variety. The resulting fruit was of exceptional quality with a sweet, crisp flesh and a strong, aromatic skin. From this apple many other dessert varieties have been developed.
Apples have a low vitamin C content and, do not have great food value, but they are one of the most popular and versatile fruits. In addition to their decorative value in a fruit bowl and, served raw, as an enjoyable sweet, apples can be cooked in many different ways to produce a huge variety of desserts. They can be prepared to accompany certain meat and cheese dishes and they can be baked, stewed, fried, pureed, cooked in pastry or used as a garnish. They can be preserved as jelly, jam, pickles, chutney and dried apple rings. Certain varieties are used to make CIDER and apple wine.
Cooking apples are rich in pectin and are useful in making jam because they can be combined with fruits that have little pectin.