Thursday, 15 September 2011

Apples, pears & plums - a story of the amazing heritage varieties in my local greengrocer!!

What a lovely, & unexpectedly exciting, morning I have had, shopping in a small town called Keynsham. Halfway between Bath & Bristol, and a 10 minute drive from my house, its not the closest place to spend my money, but I do love the old fashioned high street stuffed with charity shops. I often go there looking for props for my food photography work.

But one of the main reasons I visit is to go to Buss's, a greengrocers that looks like it has been there for ever. The staff wear those knee length overcoats of the type seen in post-war ironmongers. Think Arkwright in Open All Hours. I love it.

So todays visit was all about the plums,  remembering from this time last year that they stock several interesting varieties that you definitely cannot buy at the supermarket. For supper club next weekend I am planning a plum, amaretto & almond crumble and I wanted to get a few different types to test out the recipe this weekend. Of the 9 varieties they had, some were sadly a day or so over ripe. Could it be that the people of Keynsham don't know whats good for them? I hope not, Buss's truly is a great community asset. I came away with a few Marjorie and a few Guinevere to see which make the nicest crumble.

Perhaps even more exciting than the plums was the whole shelving unit dedicated to heritage apples and pears grown at Brogdale Farm in Kent. Brogdale holds the National Fruit Collection and has over 4000 varieties, including apple types that Henry VIII would have enjoyed. "National Collections" are held for all genera of plants in different locations up and down the country. They are owned and supported by DEFRA principally as a genetic resource for future research.

I brought a few Laxton pioneer apples for munching just as they are, and 4 Siegnour Esperen pears for a recipe idea I am planning -  a pear & ginger baked cheesecake. The description on these squat, round little pears was: 'russet skin with firm cream flesh & an aromatic juicy flavour', which makes me feel they might just be perfect for the job. I shall let you know. Expect the recipe sometime next week....

So for those of you that are interested here is a list of the varieties Buss's had this morning. Apologies if I have written them down wrong - in my excitement they were hastily written down on the back of a receipt. If you live close enough to Keynsham perhaps you could go in and see for yourself.

PLUMS: President, Merryweather Damsons, Marjorie, Guinevere, Victoria, Valor, Edwards, Greengages (didn't specify type), Jubelium

PEARS:  Maxine, Triomphe de Vienne, Doctor Stark, Cheltenum Crob, Coscia, Nargilla, Doyeene George Boucher, Fondante d'autommne, Siegnour Esperen, Clara Frijs, Madam Fayre

APPLES: Fiesta red, Zomer Delicious, Garden Royal, Wilmuta, Emzo, Ribonde, Firs No 3, Karmijn de Sonnaville, Golden Aukilspur, Banns Margenrot, Macy Goldjour, Shinfeild seedling, Stirling Castle, Laxton pioneer

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