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James Grieve Apple
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James Grieve is a large, oval apple with a yellow-green or yellow-orange skin overlaid with stripes of red and orange. The flavor is sharp yet delicate—a classic apple flavor. The creamy white flesh is crisp early in the season, turning into an unusual melting texture when harvested later. It is consistently very juicy and bruises easily, so take care in transporting and storing.
James Grieve apples are available in the fall.
The James Grieve apple is an old Victorian variety of Malus domestica originally from Scotland. Its parentage is not known definitively, but it is thought to be a seedling of the Pott’s Seedling, or possibly Cox’s Orange Pippin. Outside of culinary use, James Grieve is often used in apple breeding programs, since it is an easy apple tree to grow, has good disease resistance, and reliably passes on its pleasant acidity to its offspring. Some of its more well-known offspring include Falstaff, Greensleeves, Katy, Elton Beauty, and Lord Lambourne. There are also several sports including one called the Red James Grieve that is identical to the main variety except for its color.
Apples are a nutritious choice, with few calories and several types of vitamins and minerals. They are high in insoluble and soluble fiber (pectin), which promotes digestive health. Apples contain lesser amounts of Vitamin C and potassium, along with antioxidants such as quercetin and catechin.
This is a good cooking apple, for both its flavor and the fact that it holds its shape well during baking. Stew for a chunky applesauce, make baked apples, or bake into pies. The James Grieve is also noted for its excellence in juicing and making cider. When the fruits are picked early in the season, they are more acidic and at peak use for cooking. After slightly later harvest and storage, they become sweeter, milder, and almost pear-like in texture. Eat as a dessert apple cut into slices with cheese. James Grieve can be kept in cool, dry storage for up to one or two months, after which they become too soft.
While some apple varieties such as the James Grieve have not proven to be good commercial varieties, interest in antique apple varieties in growing among consumers and gardeners. Many of the old varieties make good home orchard trees. The James Grieve in fact won Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit in 1993, attesting to its positive value beyond the mass commercial.
The first written mention of the James Grieve apple is from 1893. It was raised from a seedling by its namesake in Edinburgh, Scotland and introduced later by Dickson’s Nursery. They were grown commercially for a few decades, until the 1960s, but ultimately fell out of commercial favor because of how easily the fruit bruises. The tree is particularly tolerant of winters and the spring blossoms are resistant to late frosts. It does well in northern climates such as Scotland, from where it originated.