The bramley apple

Posted: Monday 6 October 2014
by James Alexander-Sinclair

Ask anyone to name an apple, and chances are they'll come up with either Cox’s Orange Pippin or The Bramley - probably our most popular varieties.

Ask anyone to name an apple, and chances are they'll come up with either 'Cox’s Orange Pippin' or 'The Bramley' - probably our most popular varieties.

The Bramley’s Seedling is, of course, the classic cooking apple and the perfect choice for a pie, crumble or purée. Every old orchard I come across is almost certain to boast a Bramley. In fact, we produce about 70,000 tonnes of them every year.

The first tree was grown from a pip in 1809 by a schoolgirl called Mary-Ann Brailsford in the garden of her cottage. In 1846 the cottage was bought by Matthew Bramley. In 1853 a local nurserymen, Henry Merryweather, started taking grafts and raising trees for sale. The original tree, though feeling its age, is still alive and growing in Southwell, Nottinghamshire (where it even has its own commemorative blue plaque).

The bramley is a big tree if allowed to expand. The way around this is to buy a specimen that has been grafted onto a different rootstock. This is the process by which the tree is attached to a different rootstock, which prevents it from growing too big. The best one for this tree would be either M9 or M26. Ask your friendly local nurseryperson for advice.

The main problem with bramley trees is that they tend to produce far too many apples and you're left with buckets of stewed apple in the freezer. There are worse problems in the world. And if you're looking for another recipe then in my opinion - and feel free to ignore me, as I'm a rubbish cook - there's nothing better than a baked Bramley stuffed with sultanas and smothered with custard.

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