Why you should be excited
Brownlees’ Russet is a 19th century apple known equally for its good flavour and its spectacular blossoms.
The story of Brownlees' Russet
If you think apple breeding is relatively new and the exclusive domain of university researchers in lab coats or big money agro-science, it’s time to think again. Apple breeding has been going on for hundreds of years and the basics of how it's done have not changed much over that time.
Exhibit A: Brownlees’ Russet, an apple bred by Mr. William Brownlees, a 19th century English nursery operator and one of many to invest years in the pursuit of better-quality apples by pairing varieties with complementary characteristics and hoping their children would include some winners.
You can see the names of some of these apple breeders in their successful breeding results: Cox and Laxton, Kidd and, well, Brownlees.
Introduced in 1848, this apple has outstanding flavour, but some admire it even more for its spectacular flowers, which start out as deep carmine buds, opening to pink flowers (the vast majority of apple varieties feature snow-white blossoms).
Compared favourably to the great Ashmead’s Kernel, Brownlees’ Russet shows that skilled apple breeding has been underway for a long, long time.
Brownlees' Russet Facts
Bred in Hemel Hempstead, Hartfordshire, England; introduced 1848.
Flavour, aroma, texture
An intense knock-your-socks-off flavour, rich and sweet, nutty yet strongly tart. The cream-coloured flesh is quite juicy.
Heavily russeted, covering yellow or sometimes brownish-red skin. A medium-sized apple.
When they’re available
Late season (usually in October).
Quality for fresh eating
Good. Also good for juice.
Quality for cooking
Quality for cider
Not particularly known for use in cider, but it does provide a high-quality juice, so may be useful in cider blends..
Good (3 months or more when kept refrigerated).