#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 7°C Thursday 22 October 2020

When was the last time you had an Irish apple? 95% of ones we eat are imported

We have been conditioned to believe that there are just handfuls of apple varieties but, in fact, we have hundreds of native varieties in Ireland alone, writes Michael Kelly.

Michael Kelly Grower

I AM A massive fan of apples and the “apple a day keeps the doctor away” lessons of youth have stayed with me all my life.

I’ve often thought it strange, however, that such a traditional saying must surely have originated at a time when it would have been difficult to follow the advice and eat an
apple each day all year round.

The apple season here runs from late August until Christmas but since apples store quite well (kept somewhere cool and dark), you could eat Irish apples until March or

After that, traditionally, it was time to move to the great summer fruits such as currants and berries and then wait until August for the new season apples to appear again.

London Scenes - Street Hawkers & Sellers - Cheapside - 1923 A London apple seller - Mrs Hunt - in 1923. She sold fruit on Wood Street in Cheapside for 40 years. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

These days, of course, one can eat an apple a day all year round with no problem whatsoever thanks to the abundance of imported apples available in our supermarkets.

In a strange way, the apple-lover in me would be glad about this if we were only eating imported apples when the Irish ones were all finished. But sadly, that’s not the case.

In fact, 95% of the €100 million worth of apples consumed in Ireland annually are imported. Even in peak apple season in Ireland, the apples on our supermarket shelves are more likely to have been grown in New Zealand, South America, China and India.

This is bad enough for the planet and for our indigenous apple industry but it’s also bad for us as consumers.

As is the case with most fruits and vegetables, the commercial apple market has been homogenised and rationalised to the point where almost all of the apples consumed worldwide come from just a handful of varieties such as Pink Lady, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith.

As consumers, our flavour choices are therefore incredibly limited. Though we have been conditioned to believe that there are just handfuls of apple varieties, in fact, we have hundreds of native varieties in Ireland alone.

One of our great apple growers and advocates, Con Traas, grows over 60 varieties on his 40-acre farm in Cahir, Co Tipperary.

Growing your own apples is a good way to access a superb, seasonal product with zero food miles. In addition, you can also try lots of different varieties and flavours. But even if you can’t or don’t want to grow all your own apples, growing even a small amount of them is a great way to expose yourself to those new varieties and flavours.

Once you experience the joys of an Elstar, Katy, Discovery or Jonagold apple it’s hard to go back.

It will also give you a new-found appreciation for the work done by our commercial apple producers. As the apple season kicks in, make sure to vote with your wallet and buy in-season Irish apples.

The Basics – Club Root

Club root is a serious infection of the roots of brassicas by a soil dwelling micro-organism called Plasmodiophora brassicae.

It is pretty much catastrophic for the plant, leading to massive swelling of the roots and severely retarded growth. It affects cabbages, cauliflowers, turnips, swedes and

Worst of all, it is highly contagious (you can spread it from one part of the garden to another on your wellies) and can survive in the soil for decades. It typically infects in the summer months when the soil is moist and warm.

There are no chemical controls for Club Root – the only cure once you have it in the soil – is prevention. Use club root resistant varieties and always sow the seeds in module trays.

This gives the plant a chance to establish strong root systems before planting out.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

Recipe of the Week – Tomato Ketchup

You can never have enough tomato preserving recipes. I adapted this recipe from the tomato ketchup recipe in The Preserving Book by Lynda Brown. It’s very straightforward, and makes two to three small jars which will keep for three months.

Vegetables Source: DPA/PA Images

• 1kg ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 1 carrot, chopped
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 1 celery stick, chopped
• good pinch of ground cloves
• 1 large bay leaf
• 2 mace blades or teaspoon ground mace
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp black peppercorns
• 1 tsp whole allspice
• 150ml red wine vinegar
• 60g light soft brown sugar


Put all the ingredients except the sugar in a large stainless steel saucepan.

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes then remove the lid and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Discard the mace and bay leaves and puree the liquid in a blender – then rub
through a sieve, back in to the rinsed-out pan.

Stir in the sugar, bring back to the boil, stirring all the time. Boil for 5 minutes to allow the sauce develop a thick cream-like consistency. Pour into a warm, sterilsed kilner or screw-top jars.

Cool, seal and label, and store in a cool, dark place.

Once opened, keep in the fridge and use within two weeks.

Gardening: Autumn is coming – grab some salvaged timber and get to work on your ‘raised beds’

About the author:

Michael Kelly  / Grower

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel