Cheshire Apples

Apples at Reaseheath
We tend to associate the counties of Kent and Herefordshire with apple production, but did you realise that Cheshire has a rich history of growing apples? Historically the cities of Liverpool and Manchester were supplied with apples grown on Cheshire farms, but sadly this declined in the middle of the last century - when we started importing apples from all over the world.

Cheshire Varieties

According to the Cheshire Landscape Trust there are currently 33 known varieties of Cheshire apples. There's a variety called the Minshull Crab (no, it’s not a crab apple), which gets its name from the original tree that was in Church Minshull in 1777.

The variety called Bee Bench comes from an area covering Crewe, Nantwich and Market Drayton. It gets its name came from the Victorian habit of bee keepers putting bee skips into orchards so the insects could aid pollination.

You’d expect Chester Pearmain or Chester Pippin apples to have their origins in Cheshire. And even Mere de Menage, when it’s called by its other name - Lord Combermere. But Lord Clyde and Lord Derby also have their roots in Cheshire (sorry about the awful pun) when we’re talking about apple varieties and not aristocracy.

A few years ago the variety Golden Delicious was aggressively marketed by French growers and put a lot of British apple growers out of business. It then fell out of favour as people realised it could be rather bland, but have you tried a Cheshire Golden Delicious? It’s still sweet crisp and juicy, but also I think it has more taste.

Eddisbury Fruit Farm
In the north of the county are Eddisbury Fruit Farm and Winsors at Willington Fruit Farm. These two big apple growers offer pick your own and ready picked apples (and other fruit). They also produce their own apple juice and cider. Cider is also made (with proper cider apples) by Nook's Yard and Wrenbury Cider .
Apple juice from Willington Fruit farm

Grow Your Own and Community Growing

If you’ve got space for an apple tree, why not grow your own? Morreys Nursery, on the edge of Delamere Forest, has a good selection of apple (and pear) varieties. Cheshire Landscape Trust provides trees for community and school orchards, click here for more information.There’s community orchards across the county and the charity Common Ground list some here. In Congleton there’s a Sustainability Group where they collect unwanted apples and press them into juice. Last year they collected over seven tons of apples to make more than 4000 bottles of Congelton Apple Juice!

Cheshire Recipes

You’ll find recipes for Cheshire Fidget Pie, made with bacon and apples, in old cookery books. Cheshire apples with Cheshire cheeseis a marriage made in heaven!  Have you tried Cheshire Cheese and Apple Pie?

Apple days

There’s an Apple Day at Tatton Park, with tastings and talks on pruning, training and caring for your own apple trees. 

On the Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th October 2013, Reaseheath College will have its Apple Festival.
AReaseheath Apple Festival
It’s free entry and there will be displays of rare varieties, fruit garden tours, apple and cheese tasting, fruit identification, advice on choosing the right tree and fruit growing. They will also help you to propagate your old apple tree. There will also be apple pressing (bring your own apples and juice containers). 

So, if you’ve never seen a Bloody Ploughman:
Bloody ploughman apple
Now’s your chance!

To read more about foods from the North West click here. 

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