The iconic British fruit is in season now. We visit a busy orchard in Kent to find out just what it takes to grow crisp, delicious apples.
It's harvest at Adrian Scripps farm in Kent, which has supplied apples to Tesco for almost 40 years. James Simpson, managing director, takes us apple picking.
'We have special ways of growing our trees to make sure they get the most sunlight and produce the best fruit. One of our techniques is to create a "fruit wall" - the trees are planted closely together, then the branches are trained to grow from one trunk along a trellis system. The trees end up being tall, but with branches that are short and close to the trunk, and so closer to all the nutrients.
'Apples can grow in a wide range of conditions, but one of the crucial things for growing in the UK is to have a south-facing slope, so the apples get the best of the sunlight.
'Looking after an orchard is a year-round job - we're always busy. The trees are pruned in winter to maintain their shape and structure, and when they flower in the spring we bring in honeybees to help them pollinate. We also work out how many apples there should be on each tree and remove some if there's too many.
'Harvesting the apples is a very delicate operation. Each orchard wlll have around 30 to 40 people picking the apples by hand - they can harvest around 1 1/2 tonnes of fruit per day. The apples are then put into a cold store, which keeps them fresh as the day they were harvested. There's a running debate over whether apples should be eaten cold or not. I love to eat red princes from the fridge - they're so juicy!'
Did you know?
Apple trees have grown wild in Britain since Neolithic times, but it was the Romans who first cultivated sweet English eating varieties.
Gala is the largest single variety of eating apple produced in the UK. It's at its seasonal best from late September to early May.
Why not try this nutty and sweet Apple and hazelnut loaf which truly makes the most of a wonderful apple harvest.
As featured in Tesco Magazine October 2014.