Pitmaston pineapples are not what it “says on the tin”. But they are next best thing. If you have never tried a Pitmaston Pineapple apple then you are missing out; it is typical of the type of fruit this site is trying to promote.
It is a funny little thing, small at maybe only three inches long, conical in shape and golden yellow with slight russeting when ripe. It is a child sized apple but don’t let the kids eat them all (my grandaughter loves them and is therefore an exception to the rule…) as these little apples pack a punch well above their weight.
The flesh is creamy and the texture is crunchy – a really ripe Pitmaston Pineapple cracks when you bite it. It had better because they are so small that you will only get 2 or 3 bites; BUT the taste is sensational. No other apple tastes quite like it. Lightly acid with masses of sugar and a flowery scent. Deliciously sweet for the first 5-10 seconds and then an absolutely unmistakable after-taste of pineapple rushes in and a grey, chilly, windswept Somerset (as it often is in October) suddenly becomes Jamaica.
And it does not do this just in Somerset actually, I just live here. The Pitmaston Pineapple was bred in Worcestershire as so many good apples have been. It was bred (by a Mr White who managed the orchards of Lord Foley of Whitley) in the town of Pitsmaston, near Worcester. Lord Foley sold it to Mr Williams a losal nurseryman who introduced it to a wider market towards the end of the eighteenth century. It was a seedling of Golden Pippin but neither Mr White nor Mr Williams ever revealed the other parent (if either ever knew).
Pitmaston Pineapple trees are heavy cropping, have excellent disease resistance (they are especially resistant to apple scab) and are as tough as old boots. They are self sterile, which means that they cannot pollinate themselves but they will pollinate and be pollinated by fertile and self sterile apples in apple pollination groups C,D and E. They will grow pretty much anywhere that apples can in the UK so they work well in frost pockets, higher locations and in the North and Scotland. As a spur fruiting apple, it is suitable for training against a wall as a cordon or espalier.
Which is a good thing because Pitmaston Pineapple is one of those apples that get children (and adults) interested in fruit. Every orchard or garden should have one.
Spartan apple trees are seriously photogenic. They are generally beautifully formed, they carry masses of blossom in spring and they are generally laden with (when ripe) very dark red, small, crunchy, sweet fruit. A real child’s apple and one deserving of special mention on the fruit trees site. We needed to send a picture of a bush apple tree carrying fruit to someone who wanted some at their wedding reception, so what could be better than a Spartan?
My eyes lit on a good looking specimen which I duly started to photograph. It had a perfectly formed cluster of red apples that, although young were picture postcard perfect.
Turning it round to see if it had a “better side” I noticed that it also had another cluster apples. However, unlike the first, these were completely green. I had a really good check to make sure this was not one a family apple tree (an apple tree with a total of three varieties grafted onto the same rootstock) that had got muddled up with the single variety apple trees, but the leaves were the same all over, the fruit shapes were identical and there was only one graft, and that was two inches above soil level. My chosen tree might conceivably not have been a Spartan but it was assuredly a single species apple tree.
Now Spartan apple trees tend to ripen in a rush (i.e. pretty much all at once) and these, as you can see from the pictures are weeks apart.
While waiting to send plants out, we tend to keep them quite close together and the only possible explanation I can come up with is that the green apples were in deep shade, while the reds were in the sun. This leads one to thoughts of delaying the ripening of some apples on a tree by deliberately shading them. Paper bags, fleece, socks all spring to mind as potential parasols…. suggestions anyone?
What certainly works is the “tattooing” of fruit using sun and shade. So here is a fun idea for an almost free birthday card for someone with a July – October birthday. Choose an apple that ripens at the right time of year. Preferably a red apple such as Spartan, Red Windsor, Discovery, Rosette etc. Make a cut out stencil – I think masking tape would be ideal with your message. Keep it short as apples are not huge, something like “I love you” might work. Stick the stencil on to an unripe apple and pick off the rest of the cluster so it is all by itself. Sit back, let nature take its course and at birthday time you should have an apple proclaiming “I love you” in bold red type on a green background. The more painstaking amongst you may wish to use Letraset and stick individual letters onto an apple to spell out your message in green against a red background. Just a thought