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Smart's Prince Arthur Apples
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Smart’s Prince Arthur apples are large, conical fruits with an elongated shape and moderate ribbing. The skin is smooth, waxy, firm, and has a yellow base that is almost entirely covered in bright red-orange striping and blush. Underneath the surface, the flesh is fine-grained, pale yellow to ivory, and dry, encasing a central core filled with many black-brown seeds. Smart’s Prince Arthur apples are crisp with a sweet, tangy, and acidic flavor.
Smart’s Prince Arthur apples are available in the fall through early spring in Europe.
Smart’s Prince Arthur apples, botanically classified as Malus domestica, are a rare, late-season variety belonging to the Rosaceae family. The sweet-tart apples were once a favored variety in the Victorian Era in England and were grown for their extended storage capabilities, high yields, and versatility. Smart’s Prince Arthur apples are considered to be a dual-purpose apple that can be used for culinary applications immediately after harvest, or they can be consumed as a fresh eating variety after being stored to develop sweeter flavors. Also known as Lady’s Finger apples in Kent, England, Smart’s Prince Arthur apples are challenging to find in modern-day European markets and are a specialty cultivar mainly grown in home gardens.
Smart’s Prince Arthur apples are an excellent source of fiber, which can help regulate digestion, and are a good source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that can boost the immune system and increase collagen production within the body. The apples also contain vitamin A, potassium, calcium, and iron.
Smart’s Prince Arthur apples are best suited for cooked applications such as boiling, baking, and stewing. The apples hold their shape well when cooked and have a mild taste that can blend with both sweet and savory flavors in dishes. Smart’s Prince Arthur apples are commonly boiled and blended into purees and applesauce for pies, roasted meats, and oatmeal, or they can be pressed into fresh juices and ciders. The apples were also popularly utilized in dessert recipes during the Victorian Era and were baked into dumplings and cakes, blended into puddings, or stewed in sugar-based syrup and covered in icing or meringue to make a dish known as apple hedgehogs. In the modern-day, the variety is still used as a rare culinary apple and pairs well with meats such as beef, poultry, pork, and lamb, nuts such as pistachios, almonds, and walnuts, fruits such as blueberries, oranges, and apricots, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and cinnamon. The apples will keep 1-3 months when stored whole and unwashed in a cool, dry, and dark place such as the refrigerator.
Smart’s Prince Arthur apples were popularly grown in the town of Maidstone, England, during the Victorian Era. Maidstone is situated along the River Medway, which is a major waterway that flows into Southeast London, allowing the town direct access to ship commodities and agricultural goods into the metropolitan city. Maidstone was once nicknamed the “Garden of England” and developed this reputation from its high-quality orchards and diverse range of fruit varieties being grown and shipped into London. Though the city carried the title of “Garden of England” for over four hundred years, the nickname has recently been transferred to the county of North Yorkshire, which is showing promise to sustain future agricultural needs. Despite the loss of title, Maidstone is also home to many hopfields, producing some of the most popular beers in England. This eventually led Maidstone to earn a new nickname of the “Beer Garden of England.”
Smart’s Prince Arthur apples were first developed in 1883 by a breeder known as Mr. Smart in a town near Sittingbourne, England. While the parent varieties of the apple are unknown, Smart’s Prince Arthur apples were widely grown and promoted through a nurseryman known as G. Bunyard in Maidstone, which is a highly populated town within the county of Kent. Today Smart’s Prince Arthur apples are considered rare and challenging to find, primarily reserved to home gardens and sold through specialty growers at local markets in the United Kingdom.