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Kent apples vary in size depending on the growing season but are generally a small to medium-sized varietal, averaging 5.5 to 6 centimeters in diameter. The apples have a round to conical appearance with slightly lopsided shoulders, and some fruits have light ribbing surrounding the crown. The skin showcases golden yellow and pale green hues, covered in a dark red-orange blush with striping and pale lenticels. The skin is also tough, chewy, semi-glossy, taut, and smooth, bearing a few patches of prominent textured russet. Underneath the skin, the cream-colored flesh is coarse, firm, aqueous, and dense, with a crisp, crunchy consistency. Kent apples release a faint, mildly sweet aroma and have an aromatic, balanced, sweet, and sharp flavor. It is important to note that if the variety is grown in less-than-ideal conditions, the fruits may develop a more acidic, bitter, and metallic taste. Kent apples also sweeten in extended storage.
Kent apples are available in the late fall and can be stored through the winter.
Kent apples, botanically classified as Malus domestica, are an English variety belonging to the Rosaceae family. The mid to late-season apple was specifically created to be a modern, improved variety of the Cox's Orange Pippin, a beloved but notoriously difficult apple to cultivate. Cox's Orange Pippin apples are valued for their complex flavoring throughout England, and breeders have been using the apple to develop new varieties that capture the same flavors with increased resistance to disease. Kent apples exhibit cold tolerance and are a hardy variety for commercial and home orchards. The trees produce a large crop, and the apples have extended storage capabilities, sweetening in flavor with time. The variety is also known as Malling apples and Malling Kent apples, descriptors given in honor of the apple's site of origin at the East Malling Research Station in Kent, England. Kent apples are mainly utilized as a dessert cultivar and are available in limited quantities commercially and through private orchards.
Kent apples are a source of fiber to regulate the digestive tract, vitamin C to strengthen the immune system while boosting collagen production, and vitamin E to reduce inflammation. The apples also provide potassium to balance fluid levels within the body, vitamin K to assist in faster wound healing, antioxidants to protect the body against the damage caused by free radicals, and other nutrients, including copper, zinc, manganese, and iron.
Kent apples have a sweet-tart, sometimes sharp flavor suited for fresh preparations. The apples were traditionally consumed as a dessert variety eaten straight out of hand and were favored for their taste, firm texture, and aromatic nature. Kent apples can also be incorporated into modern-day dishes, such as chopping into salads, shredding into slaws, mixing into grain bowls, or as a fresh topping over oatmeal, porridge, and pancakes. The variety's tangy taste complements various soft and hard cheeses on charcuterie boards, and the flesh is firm enough to be sliced and dipped into caramel, thick spreads, chocolate, or maple syrup. Kent apples can also be layered in sandwiches, thinly sliced and topped with spreads and microgreens as a bite-sized appetizer, or blended into smoothies. The variety is rarely used in ciders, but its balanced sugar and acidity levels provide complexity in cider blends. Kent apples pair well with fruits such as plums, apricots, grapes, and citrus, cheeses including parmesan, cottage, cheddar, and brie, and herbs such as parsley, mint, sage, and thyme. Whole, unwashed Kent apples will keep up to four months when stored in a cool and dry place.
In Elizabethan times, apples were a symbol to convey interest in a potential suitor. Eligible women would peel an apple and place it under her arm to absorb her scent. It was believed the apples would capture the woman's pheromones; unique odors thought to increase attraction. The scent-soaked apple was known as a "love apple" and was given to a suitor as a memento of that woman's interest in him. Love apples were meant to allow the suitor to enjoy the woman's fragrance while they were apart, a sign of passion, desire, and interest. It is unknown what the suitor would do with the apple after they received it. The majority of sources say the suitors would smell the apple for as long as they could before the fruit would rot, while other sources say the apples were rumored to have been consumed.
Kent apples are native to England and were developed at the East Malling Research Station in Maidstone, a town within the county of Kent in southeastern England. Traditional crossbreeding techniques using Cox's Orange Pippin apples and Johnathan apples created the variety in 1949. Henry M. Tydeman, a well-known apple breeder of the 20th century, was the lead on the project. In 1974, the new apple variety was named Kent after the research station's location in Kent, England, and was released to growers throughout England as a fresh-eating cultivar. Kent apples were commercially grown on a small scale after their release, but they never became widespread in mainstream markets due to their prominent russeting. Today Kent apples are primarily cultivated in England, especially in the southeast, and are found through select growers and private orchards. The apples are also grown in home gardens. The Kent apples featured in the photograph above were sourced through Brogdale Farm in Faversham, Kent.
Recipes that include Kent Apples. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Somewhat Simple||Sautéed Brussel Sprouts and Apples|
|An Edible Mosaic||Jicama, Apple, and Pomegranate Salad with Raspberry Dijon Vinaigrette|
|Eat The Gains||Savory Apple Nachos|