A wide selection of culinary apple trees are offered for sale on a variety of rootstocks to suit all situations and tastes. The most famous variety in the UK, Bramley, originated 200 years ago, however there are many more desirable varieties to choose from. Cooking apples are often green such as Grenadier, Lord Derby but others redden up such as Howgate Wonder. They are generally divided into two categories acid and sub acid. Acid culinary apples tend to be sharp when cooked and require sweetening. Sub acid apple varieties are less sharp, so requiring little or no sugar and can be acceptable eaten raw. As a rule culinary apples are large - plenty of flesh after peeling and coring! They tend to be less fickle than dessert apples - most of the trees will grow well in most parts of the UK.

Bramley's Seedling is without doubt the definitive English cooking apple, and in terms of flavor ranks as one of the world's great culinary apples. Although England has produced a large number of excellent "cookers", Bramley is so dominant that the others are largely forgotten. Most cooks reach automatically for the trusty Bramley, and it is equally prevalent in commercial apple bakery products in the UK. Its key feature is the very high level of acidity, and the excellent strong apple flavour it lends to any apple dish.

Inspite of these excellent qualities, Bramley's Seedling is little known outside of England. English apple cookery usually calls for apples which cook to a puree, and the intense acidity of Bramley's Seedling guarantees the lightest and fluffiest of purees. This contrasts with the traditions of other countries, notably France and the USA, where cooks often prefer apples which keep their shape in cooking. Interestingly, England is also the only country where a clear distinction is made between "eaters" and "cookers".

Bramley's Seedling trees are extremely vigorous - at least a size larger than most other apple varieties on any given rootstock. They are quite easy to grow, and have attractive crimson blossom. The only complication for gardeners is that Bramley's Seedling is a triploid variety, with three sets of genes instead of the more usual two. As a result it needs two different pollinating apple trees nearby to ensure successful pollination.

They are also notably long-lived. 2009 was the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Bramley's Seedling, and - remarkably - the original tree was still alive in the same garden in Nottinghhamshire, England, where it was planted as a pip by a young girl, Mary Ann Brailsford, 200 years before. It takes its name from a subsequent owner of the house, a Mr Bramley who allowed a local nurseryman to propagate it in the 1850s on condition that it was given his name.

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England is the only country where a major distinction is made between cooking and dessert apples, but these days only one variety remains to maintain the tradition of English cooking apples - the famous Bramley apple. However before the supermarket era the choice was wider, with a whole range of culinary or cooking apple varieties grown, each with their own characteristics and season. Chief amongst the early cooking apples is Grenadier, which ripens by mid-August in the UK.

Not much is known of the origins of Grenadier, but it was discovered during the mid-19th century in England and was quite widely grown by the end of the century, although it is no longer grown commercially.

Two reasons probably account for Grenadier's fall from favour. Firstly, like all early apple varieties it does not store particularly well, a serious drawback for modern distribution methods. Secondly, it is not the most attractive of apples - it is a lumpen green, often with a pronounced ribbed effect. However, this ugliness is transformed in the pot, where it easily cooks down to cream-coloured puree with a superb apple flavour. Grenadier is also a good base for apple jam.

Grenadier is also quite an easy apple tree to grow in the garden, being reliable, resistant to the common apple diseases, and not likely to grow as vigorously as a Bramley. Growing your own is also the easiest way to get over its poor keeping qualities, as you can pick it over a number of weeks.

So if you want to make a light English-style apple pie for a summer picnic then Grenadier is exactly what you need.

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A very large apple that can be quite sweet and pleasant when eaten fresh but basically it is a cooking apple. However, we note that many visitors to this website disagree and think it is a good eating variety too! Partially self-fertile like one of its parents, Newton Wonder.

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