1 March 2013 by Jennifer
A useful list of apple varieties! And similar notes on veg, and a little bit of philosophical musing from me.
Rocket, lamb’s lettuce, purslane, winter cos, land cress, kale, leeks, chicory, pak choi, choi sum, mizuna, komatsuna, mooli, winter savory, coriander, parsley, chervil, spring onions, spinach, sorrel and chard will grow through the winter in the United Kingdom. Some need cold frames or cloches to protect them from the lowest temperatures, but none requires a heated greenhouse.
(I don’t know what some of those things are!)
Carrots, parsnips, potaties of all kinds, beetroot, onions, garlic, swedes, pumpkins, squashes, celeriac, salsify and scorzonera can be stored without refrigeration.
Scores of old apple varieties, among them some of the best ever cultivated – Ashmead’s Kernel, Ribston Pippin, Aromatic Russet, Belle de Boskoop, Pitmaston Pineapple, Allen’s Everlasting, Court Pendu Plat, D’Arcy Spice – have been devloped to last through the winter in an insulated shed. Even in Marlowe’s day, horticulture was sufficiently advanced to produce an apple – the Winter Greening or Apple John – which would still be edible, if wrinkled, two years after it was picked.
And this is to say nothing of the products (some, like damson jam and raspberry vinegar, quite exquisite), of smoking, salting, drying, pickling and preserving.
The reason I bookmarked that quote originally was so as to note down the apple list before I gave the book back (to the library), because I want to get an apple tree! Or two.*
I was thinking it would be good to include one of the “long keeper” varieties. There’s not really any apple product that I like better than I like actual apples or a freshly whizzed smoothie, so keeping them as apples would be more appealing to me than keeping them as jam or something.
(I think I had already known before reading Heat that some apples kept better than others, just hadn’t had names.)
I do realise it’d be a while yet before my hypothetical tree would yield enough that I wouldn’t just be eating them all straight away :-)
Obviously part of why I decided to blog this extract rather than just note it is the apple and veg lists, which could be useful to people other than me.
But besides that, it’s stirring a fascination I have about the saving and transmission of experience & skills & information.
One aspect of that is what’s included – or not – in schooly education. Here’s all this knowledge of nearby edible things! and much of it would have been learnt with no conscious effort, by generation after generation of rural children, when we relied on it in daily life. (rather as lots of children today naturally pick up information about mobile phones, or bus routes, or online shopping.)
And then also: Isn’t it wonderful that there are people keeping this information alive and developing it further, even though we currently don’t rely on it in the same way? Yay specialisation, one of the coolest things about civilisation! Yay curiosity!
Plus, a whole other interesting kettle of fish: this fruit and veg info is daily knowledge that we may well be relying on again in future. That’s kind of why it was in the book (and why GM wrote the book in the first place).
* If you want to get fruit from apple trees, usually the pollen from one has to fertilise the flowers of another. Or you can have one tree with two different varieties grafted onto the one trunk. (Or possibly there are some naturally self-fertile ones too, I’m not sure. But anyway the usual method is multiple trees.) And they have to flower at similar times of year, so not every combination of two trees will work. Not that I’m an expert on any of this, so don’t rely only on my advice, it’s just what I’ve learnt so far :-)