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About A Week: Apple Heaven

Peter Hinchliffe enjoys the glory of autumn, gathered into a single deliciously-satisfying sphere.

If there's an ounce of truth in old sayings, I'm in A1 tip-top super-prime condition.

Remember what your granny used to tell you? An apple a day keeps the doctor away. If that is so, doctors will never knock on my door.

I'm a four-apples-a-day man. I love 'em. I can't get enough of 'em. I crunch and munch with untiring enthusiasm, pound after juicy-sweet pound.

Cox's Orange Pippins. Russets. Discoveries. Spartans. Worcesters.

Delight unlimited!

I even eat with enjoyment that spherical bag of foreign water, the French Golden Delicious.

If delight is unlimited for those of us who love apples, choice is not. England was once the land of the apple. There were hundreds of different varieties. So many that a mastermind would have needed a month to memorise them all.

Hawthornden. Ribstone Pippin. Dog's Snout. Keswick Codling. Pit-maston Pineapple. Norfolk Royal. King of the Pippins. Blenheim Orange. St Edmund's Pippin. Names to set the juices flowing!

You just try and get a Hawthornden or a Codling at your local supermarket. You stand more chance of buying caviare at 6p a pound.

We can thank the big supermarket chains for bringing us apples of reliable quality. We must condemn them for diminishing our range of choice. Their insistence on selling fruit which looks nice has forced growers to concentrate on fewer and fewer varieties.

There were 6,000 different kinds of apple listed in the National Apple Register published in 1976.

The Brogdale Trust, home of the national fruit collections, still grows 2,339 varieties of apple in Kent.

If we allow any more to die out, we deserve to be condemned and convicted for criminal environmental neglect.

A charity, Common Ground, is campaigning to retain the apple orchards of England and Wales. Between 1957 and 1987 the acreage of apple orchards dropped from 235,000 to 76,000.
The campaign deserves support, particularly from all of us who think that apples are the finest self-wrapped convenience food yet invented.

And apples are not merely pleasure for the taste buds. Medical studies confirm that granny really does know what's good for you. Apples DO keep you healthy. They reduce blood pressure. They lower the amount of cholestrol in the blood. They are rich in natural nutrients, including vitamin C.
They are a boon to slimmers, keeping the blood sugar level steady for a longer period than other foods, thus fending off hunger pangs.

American research reveals that dedicated apple eaters suffer far fewer colds and chest complaints.

Now there is speculation that apples may help to ward off cancer. That they contain a chemical capable of killing off cancer-causing agents.

What a blissful state of affairs. Something which tastes good also does you good.

Why doesn't someone with a bit of brass and a lot of enterprise open a chain of specialist shops? They needn't be big shops. All they will sell is apples, apple juice, cider.

The chain will obviously be called Apple Heaven.

It will stock dozens of different kinds of apples. Enough variety to keep us fans sampling and crunching for many a happy year.

In the meantime, let us continue to enjoy what is left. I have a generous neighbour, a genius of a gardener, who gives me some of his homegrown Worcesters. Lucky, lucky me.

To be honest, these Worcesters don't look up to much. They're colourful enough. Russet-red on one side. Greeny-yellow on the other. But they are small, and they contain blemishes which would never pass the conformist eye of a supermarket buyer.

But what flavour! Pure, sweet, juicy freshness. All the glory of autumn gathered into a single bite.

**

National Apple Register http://www.langford-press.co.uk/National_Apple.htm

Brogdale Trust http://www.brogdale.org/

Common Ground http://www.commonground.org.uk/

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