Saltcote Pippin

Ark of taste
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Saltcote Pippin is a dessert apple with a fascinating skin texture which can resemble finely hand-beaten copper due to the minute ‘dimples’ on the surface. It has a flushed colour. Pick early October and eat from November to January – a really useful late keeping apple variety. They store until March. The Saltcote Pippin tends to be quite an upright grower with good crops. The variety is renowned for its aromatic flavour. The tree bears large, handsome fruits that have a rich aromatic taste and are firm and juicy. Firm texture but not crisp. High levels of juice when eaten raw. Notes of honey, grapefruit and cinnamon dissolving to ripe melon. Cidery finish pairs well with cheddar or Comte style cheeses. Flavours are intensified by baking and texture stays firm. A ‘pippin’ is an apple that is raised from seed. Apple seeds do not necessarily reflect the character of the parent tree, so a ‘pippin’ or a ‘seedling’ describes a new variety that emerged. The Saltcote Pippin is an apple from the county of Sussex. It’s called Saltcote because the Rother river near Rye is tidal and there were salt pans all along the river that caught the seawater and then evaporated the salt.  A ‘salt cote’ was a barn where the dried salt would be stored. James Hoad was a boatmaker in the early 19th century. James Hoad’s boat yard was on the River Rother and at the end of Saltcote Lane. The variety was raised by James Hoad and first recorded in 1819. Its remarkable flavour and superb keeping qualities made it a commercial success, but as imports from South Africa and Australia increased, this meant that fresh apples from the Southern Hemisphere greatly reduced the market for ‘keepers’ – apples that stored well and even improved in flavour during the winter months. The variety was lost for some time until a gardener took notice of one single apple tree bearing fruit at Budds Farm in Wittersham near Rye where the Salt Pippin originated. Since then, the tree has been grafted several times and there are 6 known trees in total today. The original apple tree is believed to come from Saltcote Place which is the Hennessy stately home between Wittersham and Rye. Samplings of the fruit are being sent to the Royal Horticultural Society. Nowadays about 100 kilos were supplied to customers, including Judges Bakery in Hastings and Wakehams Farm Shop in Fairlight. The pippin is only available in very small quantities reflecting the fact that it is a variety at risk of extinction.

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