Merton Worcester Apples
Inventory, lb : 0
Merton Worcester apples are a small to medium-sized varietal, averaging 4 to 6 centimeters in diameter, and have a round to conical shape with a slightly slanted appearance. The apple’s skin has a yellow-green base hue, almost entirely covered in a dark red to crimson blush with faint striping. The surface is also spotted with patches of rough brown russet, especially in the stem cavity, and the skin has a smooth, slightly greasy feel. Underneath the thin skin, the ivory to cream-colored flesh is fine-grained, aqueous, and crisp, encasing a central core filled with black-brown seeds. Merton Worcester apples are faintly aromatic and have a mild, sweet, and tangy flavor with subtle fruity nuances reminiscent of strawberries.
Merton Worcester apples are available in the early fall through winter.
Merton Worcester apples, botanically classified as Malus domestica, are an English variety belonging to the Rosaceae family. The early to mid-season apples were developed in the early 20th century as a part of a breeding initiative to capture the complex flavoring of the cox’s orange pippin apples in a cultivar with improved resistance to diseases. Merton Worcester apples were a reasonably popular apple in the 20th century throughout the United Kingdom, but the variety never achieved the commercial fame of its parent varieties, the cox’s orange pippin and worcester pearmain apples. In the modern-day, Merton Worcester apples are still grown on a small scale through select orchards and are offered for sale through local markets and farm stands. They have also remained a variety frequently planted in home gardens and private orchards in England, consumed straight, out of hand, as a dessert apple.
Merton Worcester apples are a good source of fiber to regulate the digestive tract, vitamin C to strengthen the immune system while reducing inflammation, and potassium to balance fluid levels within the body. The apples also provide antioxidants to protect the cells against free radical damage, vitamin E to assist in faster wound healing, vitamin A to maintain healthy organ functioning, and other amounts of vitamin K, boron, calcium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Merton Worcester apples have a subtly sweet and fruity flavor well suited for fresh preparations. The apples have thin skin, allowing them to be eaten as is, or they can be chopped and tossed into salads, slaws, and fruit bowls. The mild flavor of Merton Worcester apples also allows them to be candied as a sweet treat, sliced and drizzled in chocolate, or chopped and used as a fresh topping over grain bowls, smoothie bowls, and other breakfast dishes such as pancakes, waffles, and oatmeal. Merton Worcester apples can be quartered and served on cheese plates, fruit platters, or as a crisp side dish, or they can be layered into sandwiches, grilled cheeses, or served over toast. The sweet apples can be utilized in any preparation for fresh apples, and the variety is mainly used raw as the flesh does not hold up to heat and extended cooking. Merton Worcester apples pair well with spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice, herbs including parsley, mint, rosemary, and sage, nuts such as pecans, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts, and cheeses such as brie, camembert, cheddar, goat, and feta. Whole, unwashed Merton Worcester apples will keep for a couple of weeks when stored in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer. In professional cold storage, the apples will keep for two months.
Merton Worcester apples received their name after their parent variety, worcester pearmain, and the apple’s site of creation, the John Innes Horticultural Institute. The institute was located in Merton, a suburb of London, and was established in 1910. John Innes, a property developer in London, who also had a passion for horticulture, funded the project even though he physically passed away in 1904. A week before he passed, Innes created a new will and requested that his money be used to build a horticultural research and education school. The institute was built on Innes’s property in Merton, and two acres were dedicated to the research facility, later expanding into six acres. Merton Worcester apples were one of the first varieties developed at the institute, and many pomologists believe it was also one of the most successful cultivars released from the program. New apple varieties announced from the institute were consistently named with “Merton” as a method of recognition for the institute’s apples in commercial markets. Over ten “Merton” varieties were released from the institute between 1914 and 1958, including Merton Worcester, Merton Beauty, Merton Pearmain, Merton Russet, Merton Delight, Merton Charm, Merton Knave, Merton Pippin, and several others. Merton Worcester apples also acquired their worcester moniker as the variety is seen as an improved cultivar exhibiting characteristics most similar to the worcester pearmain versus its other parent variety, the cox’s orange pippin.
Merton Worcester apples were developed in 1914 at the John Innes Horticultural Institute, known as the John Innes Centre in present-day London, England. The variety was bred by M.B. Crane and was created from a cross between worcester pearmain and cox’s orange pippin apples. The cultivar was officially released and named in 1947, and in 1950, Merton Worcester apples received an Award of Garden Merit through the Royal Horticultural Society, a high honor established to recognize varieties with outstanding characteristics. Today Merton Worcester apples are somewhat of a rare cultivar, grown on a small-scale through specialty orchards and growers in the United Kingdom. When in season, the variety can be found at local farm stands, markets, and select grocers. The Merton Worcester apples in the photograph above were sourced from the Brogdale Heritage Orchard at Brogdale Farm near the town of Faversham in Kent, England.