Heritage flavour: White Winter Pearmain
The Tru-Cape Heritage orchard on Oak Valley farm in Elgin celebrated its maiden harvest recently with an event worthy of three and half centuries of local pomology. The 20-odd trees, each a different species of heritage apple, were weighed down with red and green fruit, some bent over almost double. It seemed little short of miraculous that those slender twigs I saw planted back in November 2012 were now bearing so prolifically. Guests were invited to pick an apple of their choice - I went for Winter Pearmain - a variety I remember my mother buying when I was very small.
Back home we cut it up and relished every mouthful - sweet, crisp and presenting wafts of apply perfume - something you don't find with contemporary apples, however beautiful they look.
The apple orchard now has a heritage pear sapling as well - to mark the harvesting of Van Riebeecks first wijnappel in
April 1662, a Winter Saffron pear was planted, taken from the oldest pear tree south of the Sahara, still clinging to life in the Company Gardens in Cape Town - it yielded its first pear on April 19 1665.
For keen cooks who enjoy sampling produce from the past, keep an eye and ear open in coming years - there's a reasonable chance that we will be able to buy some of these heritage varieties when the trees get a little bigger. Slow Food members - take note!
Our splendid lunch in the Pool Room restaurant was as contemporary and delectable as any gourmet could wish for - while the apple pie, one of the desserts on offer, was made from heritage apples using an old Dutch recipe, popular at the Cape a century or more ago. Enjoyable yes, but I much prefer my own apple streusel recipe, which beats any pie or crumble recipe tried to date. Its based on one by Robert Carrier, but is spicier.
I will post it in a separate blog.