Suffolk Pink Apples
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Suffolk Pink apples are a medium to large varietal, averaging 6 to 8 centimeters in diameter, and have a round to conical shape with prominent ribbing, creating an angular appearance. The apple’s skin is semi-thin, contributing a light, chewy consistency, and the surface is faintly glossy and smooth, speckled with a few yellow lenticels. The skin also has a pale to lemon-yellow coloring, covered in bright red-pink patches, striping, and blush. Underneath the surface, the ivory to white flesh is fine-grained, aqueous, and dense with a firm, crisp, and snap-like cracking texture. The flesh also encases a small central core filled with tiny black-brown seeds. Suffolk Pink apples emit a soft, fruity, and floral aroma reminiscent of rose petals and have a balanced, sweet-tart flavor. The apples are known for their mild, sweet, and tangy taste, and some apples, depending on cultivation, may contain an initially tart, green-apple flavor followed by a lingering sweetness.
Suffolk Pink apples are available in the late summer through fall.
Suffolk Pink apples, botanically classified as Malus domestica, are an early-season variety belonging to the Rosaceae family. The apples were discovered growing as a chance seedling in England in the late 20th century and were selected for their bright coloring and sweet-tart flavor. Suffolk Pink apples have a bright and refreshing taste for an early-season apple, which is unusual as most early apples contain more subdued, neutral flavors. The apples are consumed as a dessert variety, primarily eaten out of hand, and are a modern cultivar offered seasonally through licensed growers in partnership with supermarkets in England. Suffolk Pink apples have a unique coloring due to their exposure to temperature changes and sunlight. While the apples are deveng, farmers prune the branches away from the fruits to allow ample sunlight to blush the surface of the apple’s skin. Cold nights and warm daytime temperatures also contribute to the variety’s signature coloring.
Suffolk Pink apples are a source of vitamin C to strengthen the immune system, vitamin E to protect the cells against free radical damage, vitamin A to maintain healthy organ functioning, and other antioxidants to reduce inflammation. The apples also provide potassium to balance fluid levels within the body, fiber to regulate the digestive tract, calcium to promote the growth of bones and teeth, and lower amounts of magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc.
Suffolk Pink apples have a sweet-tart flavor and crisp nature well suited for fresh preparations. The apples are popularly served fresh, out of hand, and the skin is left intact to showcase its vibrant coloring. Suffolk Pink apples can also be chopped and tossed into salads, slaws, and fruit bowls, sliced and displayed on cheese plates, or thinly cut and layered into sandwiches or on top of toast. The crisp apples can be incorporated into grain bowls, used as a fresh topping over breakfast dishes such as cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, and waffles, or diced and mixed into homemade parfaits. While less common, Suffolk Pink apples can be blended into smoothies, pressed into juice, or sliced and dried into a chewy snack. They can also be baked into tarts, crumbles, and crisps. Suffolk Pink apples pair well with cheeses such as blue, brie, camembert, and cheddar, nuts including almonds, pecans, pine, and walnuts, and other fruits such as pomegranate, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and pears. Whole, unwashed Suffolk Pink apples should be immediately consumed for the best quality and flavor. Early-season apples are notorious for their short shelf life and will only keep 1 to 2 weeks when stored in the refrigerator. If left on the counter at room temperature, the apples will begin spoiling overnight.
Suffolk Pink apples were named after the famous shade of pastel pink that has been used to paint houses in Suffolk since the 14th century. There are several accepted variations and shades of the pink in the modern-day, but the color was originally creat by mixing pig’s blood, oxblood, elderberries, blackthorns, or sloes into limewash to protect the exteriors of buildings. In the 14th century, builders in Suffolk did not have access to quarries, so they had to rely on available materials, consisting imarily of timber, flint stone, and clay. Coating the exterior in the pigmented mixture would help protect the buildings from weather and damage to the property’s structure. Over time, Suffolk residents began to dye cloth in a similar color, selling t fabric as a signature item of the county. Suffolk Pink has become a protected color, and there are strict regulations in regards to what houses can be painted this signature pink within Suffolk to maintain the color’s historical significance.
Suffolk Pink apples were discovered growing in an orchard filled with worcester pearmain and discovery apples in the village of Braiseworth in Suffolk, England, around 1980. Grower Dan Neuteboom noticed that the tree producing the unusual apples was distinct from the other apple trees and contacted his supplier, nurseryman Jack Matthews. Mathews was also unfamiliar with the variety. He took budwood from the tree for propagation and later sent Neuteboom several new trees for commercial cultivation. The trees eventually began bearing bright pink-red fruits, and Neuteboom introduced the apples to buyers at Waitrose supermarket, who named the variety. The buyers made a deal with Neuteboom and expanded the cultivation of Suffolk Pink apples, allowing Neuteboom to plant the variety in other orchards in Hemingstone and Stonham Aspall. In the early 21st century, Suffolk Pink apples were exclusively sold through Waitrose supermarkets in England. Neuteboom later sold his orchards in Hemingstone and Stonham Aspall, allowing other growers to cultivate and sell the apple sourced from the established Suffolk Pink apple trees. Today Suffolk Pink apples are grown in England and are seasonally sold through select supermarkets. The Suffolk Pink apples in the photograph above were sourced from the Waitrose supermarket in Tenterden, England.