Mère de Ménage
Origin and History
Known since the late 1700s and believed to be of French, Flemish or Danish origin, this large mid-season cooking apple was widely grown in Eastern England in the 19th century and available commercially until the 1930s.
It has been known by many names over the centuries and in different countries, including Bellefleur de France, Breitling, Flanders Pippin, Husmøder, Gloria Mundi, Winter Colmar, Queen Emma and Lord Combermere. The last suggests it was possibly introduced into this country by Stapleton Cotton, Ist Viscount Combermere (1773 - 1865), a diplomat, politician and army officer who had served in Flanders.
The fruit is large (the biggest specimens can weigh more than a pound), shaped like a Bramley, irregular and lopsided, although apples on the same tree can vary quite considerably in size and shape. The skin is dark green and almost completely covered with a crimson or carmine flush. It has darker stripes and conspicuous grey or white lenticels. The flesh is firm, dry and rather coarse-textured.
Picking, Storing and Using
Mère de Ménage is best picked in October and will store through to January. It has traditionally been used for apple Charlotte and other dishes that call for a stiff purée but is also delicious raw - sweet, juicy and only mildly acidic.
Growth, Flowering and Pollination
The tree is vigorous, upright, very hardy and crops well, even in exposed positions.
Mère de Ménage is a triploid variety, meaning it needs two pollination partners. Good varieties include Allington Pippin, Cox's Orange Pippin and Worcester Pearmain.
Copyright © Karen Meadows 2018