This book has everything you’d ever want to know about apples. It has no pictures, however. Generally I liked it and for some reason had a craving for apples. Sadly, the author discovered, while researching this book, that he had developed an allergy to apples and couldn’t eat them any more!
Divided into sections on blossoming, fruiting, ripening and harvesting, the book charts a year in the orchard. Beginning with the origins of apples and the evidence for them in ancient and religious texts, the author moves on to topics such as cider making, apples in popular culture, the science of cultivation and a little too much about morris dancing. Pete Brown goes to festivals, orchards and fruit research stations in his quest to bring forth the story of ‘our most English fruit’ (which, it turns out, originates in Kazakhstan). It was quite funny in places, with detailed descriptions that made up for the absence of images. However, it wasn’t all riveting. Dense paragraphs on exactly how to graft on to rootstocks, for example. Occasionally the book thinks it’s a how-to manual rather than a piece of food journalism / cultural history / nature writing.
I learned a lot about apples. Job well done, Pete Brown.
First published in 2016 by Particular Books, then in 2017 by Penguin.