Bramley Seedling


It’s been over 104 degrees here in Southern California all week (109 on Monday) and there’s a fine snow of ashes raining down from the wildfires burning in the foothills. I’m walking down my apple tree row sampling failures; Lord Lamborne- cracked and split. Ashmead’s Kernel- wrinkled and rubbery. Pitmaston Pineapple- sweet, dense, a bit dry, pretty bland. I picked up a Bramley that had been sitting on the ground all day in the brutal sun, and WOW! Crisp, juicy, very tart and very sweet, with citrus overtones- definately something going on here.

Bramley is the National Cooking Apple of England and no self-respecting Brit would have anything else but Bramley in his pie.  Grown in their climate it is extremely tart, but I suspect our climate mellows it out a bit, making it a wonderful fresh-eating apple also, with way more character than Granny Smith. 

The seeds on the one I sampled were still white with the edges just starting to turn brown, so obviously it’s not ripe yet, but I’m not going to wait; time to make some Mama Josie’s ¡Ay Carumba! Jalapeno Apple Pie!  I chuckled because some growers in the UK are all a-twitter with fears of a couple degrees of warming wiping out their Bramley apple-growing industry.  I can assure them that this venerable apple can take more than just a couple degrees of warming!

This year happens to be the bi-centennial celebration of Bramley, and the original 200-year-old tree is still growing in a cottage garden in Nottingham.  A bit of hoopla is going on there, with decidedly British festivities that Joan Morgan chronicles in her wonderful Fruit Forum blog. 

Bramley bears heavily in our climate, and if planted on seedling rootstock can get absolutly humongous as it is very vigorous.  If you’re looking for a nice specimin tree for the front yard, Bramley may be it.

9/3/09 Update; we made applesauce from our Bramley crop this evening, and YOWSA!  Americans aren’t used to it being that tart, but we decided we like it (with appropriate amounts of sugar and cinnamon).  You’ll never be able to stomach the bland Motts stuff again!


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