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Cornish Gilliflower Apples
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Cornish Gilliflower apples are somewhat unusual in appearance. They are on the large size, round to conical, and bumpy with a five-pointed base. The rough skin is yellow-green, overlaid with a dark red or red-brown flush and some dots or webbing of russet. Fruits exposed to more sun tend to have a greater covering of dark red. Flavor is where the Cornish Gilliflower really stands out. The yellowish and dry flesh is very aromatic and rich. It has a distinctive sweet, flowery, and perfumed flavor and notes of clove. The best fruits are picked as late in the season as possible.
Cornish Gilliflower apples are available late fall through winter.
The Cornish Gilliflower is an old Victorian English variety of apple (Malus domestica) with an exceptional flavor. This is the best-known apple from the Cornwall region of England. Some claim the Cornish Gilliflower is also one of the best English apples overall in terms of flavor.
Apples are a nutrient-rich food, with few calories and several beneficial vitamins and minerals. Apples contain Vitamin C and other antioxidants and phytochemicals, which may help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. They also contain fiber, which is important in healthy digestion. Smaller amounts of other nutrients such as Vitamin B and boron are also present in apples.
This is mainly a dessert apple, best for fresh eating. Pair with other fruits such as citrus, cranberry, and mango in salads, or with traditional apple spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, though Cornish Gilliflower apples already taste like cloves. The Cornish Gilliflower is a good keeper, and even improves in storage, taking on a more flowery quality; keep in a cool, dry storage and use up to three months after harvest.
The name Gilliflower is a corruption of the French word “girofle,” which means clove. This particular apple was given that name because its pink blossoms smell like cloves; some also detect notes of clove in the apple itself.
The Cornish Gilliflower originated, as its name suggests, in Cornwall, England—specifically in Truro. It was first discovered in 1800 in a cottage garden and introduced to the London Royal Horticultural Society in 1813 by Sir Christopher Hawkins. The Gilliflower reached the height of its popularity during the Victorian period in England, but is still fairly common as a garden tree. This apple grows best in temperate climates, such as southern England. Since it is a tip-bearing tree, it doesn’t produce an abundant crop.