If you spot an apple tree still bearing fruit at this time of the year, chances are it will be a Sturmer Pippin. This is a very late cropping variety that was highly regarded in the Victorian period because it keeps so well on (and off) the tree; it will remain hanging on into January if the birds don’t get there first! This is a useful late apple to grow, because in September and October there are so many other autumn treats from which to choose.
So exactly when you harvest the fruit depends upon geographical location, location in the garden, appetite of the local birds and so on, but the main thing is to make certain that it gets maximum autumn sunshine in situ, which helps build sugar levels and thereby flavour. Then it is best stored until February or March, because if eaten any earlier, although full of flavour, the fruit will be sharp.
Sturmer Pippin was discovered by Ezekiel Dillistone in the garden of the Rectory in the village of Sturmer (Essex) around 1800, and presented to the (Royal) Horticultural Society in 1827. The apples were often taken on long sea voyages, and apparently Dillistone’s grandson took propagating material from the tree when he emigrated to Australia. Perhaps the famous Granny Smith, with which it shares many qualities, is a descendant?
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