Bramley apple week

Bramley apples – all you need to know

This week, 2-8 February 2015, is Bramley Apple Week.  I was curious to find out more so went and did some research – what I found was a great story about an apple that came from a single tree in Nottinghamshire that is simply fantastic for cooking with.  Read on for the full story.

Where did the name Bramley come from?

Bramley appleTo find out where the name Bramley came from, we need to go back to 1809 when the first ‘Bramley’s Seedling’ tree grew from pips planted by a young girl, Mary Ann Brailsford, in her garden in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, UK in 1809.  The tree in the garden was later included in the purchase of the cottage by a local butcher, Matthew Bramley in 1846.  In 1856, a local nurseryman, Henry Merryweather asked if he could take cuttings from the tree and start to sell the apples.  Bramley agreed but insisted that the apples should bear his name!  In 1900, the original ‘Bramley apple’ tree was knocked over during violent storms.  However, it survived, and is still bearing fruit now.  What a brilliant story!

Why do we cook them and not eat them raw like other apples?

Put simply, Bramley apples are sour in taste, which would make you braver than me to eat one raw.  Having said that, some people eat Bramley apples raw to ‘cleanse the palette’!  Once cooked, it takes on a lighter flavour, which makes it ideal for cooking with.

What makes a Bramley apple special?

Eves (apple) pudding
Eves (apple) pudding

A great feature of Bramley apples is that when cooked, they become golden and fluffy.  The Bramley is recognised by many professional chefs and home cooks alike as the best apple for cooking, with it being equally at home in a savoury stir fry or a traditional apple pie.  Regardless of the dish, Bramley apples are generally cooked in the same basic way.  Once cooked, Bramley’s quickly break down, so they are ideal for use in puréed dishes such as apple sauce, ice cream and mousse.

Bramley apples – did you know?

When reading up on Bramley apples, I came across the following more unusual facts about this well-known fruit:

  • The Bramley is almost exclusively a British variety; however it is also grown in a few places in the US, Canada and Japan
  • Bramley apples are very large, two or three times the weight of a typical dessert apple such as a Granny Smith
  • The apples tend to be flat with a vivid green skin which becomes red on the side which receives direct sunlight
  • Bramley apples from County Armagh enjoy Protected Geographical Indication status within the European Union
  •  Apples float because 25% of their volume is air
  • The UK is the only country that grows apples especially for cooking
  • The Bramley apple industry is worth £50m today

Bramley apple recipes

Having read up on Bramley apples, I’m sure you’re raring to go and make some great tasting apple recipes. Here are a few to get you started!

Bramley apples - Apple sponge pudding recipe
Apple sponge pudding

Bramley apple week - Apple pie
Apple pie

Bramley apple week - Apple sauce
Apple sauce

Further reading

If you’ve read this far, you must certainly be interested in Bramley apples!  If you want some further reading on what makes a Bramley apple so special for cooking with, here are the sources of information I used – happy reading!