An apple a day keeps the doctor away, so they say, and I always try to include a crispy and juicy English apple in my daily five fruit.
But there is another way I enjoy my English apples and that's in a refreshing glass of cider.
Just as good wines are made from named grape varieties, the best ciders are made from a particular named apple. And what names!
My own favourite apple is the Kingston Black but other cider apples have really exotic names like Handsome Norman, Greasy, or even Slack my Girdle.
Don't try eating any of these cider apples. They are usually small, hard and very bitter. That acidity and bitterness is an important part of the characteristic flavour of good cider.
In spring cider apple orchards hang heavy with blossom and the perfume can be heady when you walk among the trees. Often though all the cider will be gone - sold and drunk over the last winter.
Better to head for the orchards at harvest time. You'll see the cider being made and can enjoy sampling those ciders best drunk young.
The apples are harvested in autumn, often after being allowed to ripen and fall naturally.
The fruit is then chopped into small pieces and pressed often using ancient wooden presses. Some of these cider presses are truly enormous, indicating the vast quantities of cider that were made in days gone by.
Once the juice has been extracted fermentation can start.
Natural yeasts from the apple skins themselves turn the sugar in the fruit to alcohol. You might be given a chance to taste the young cider before it is put into casks to mature.
Different ciders are kept for different lengths of time. Just like wines some ciders are best drunk young, others get better if kept for a year or two.
There are hundreds of farmhouse and other small cider makers.
Many sell the cider from the farm gate or perhaps in a local pub or two.
The romantic way to find them is to drive through the orchards like one we visited recently in Dorset.
Tucked behind Mill House nurseries in the tiny village of Owermoigne is the fascinating Cider Museum.
This is Thomas Hardy country. Indeed Mill House itself featured in Hardy's The Distracted Preacher. The novelist changes the name of the village of Owermoigne to Nethermoyton.
At the museum there is an amazing collection of old wooden cider presses, some of which are real giants. Huge tree trunks carved into primitive but still useable machines.
Apples are still pressed in these antiques and the museum will usually be demonstrating some part of the cider making process.
The museum sells its own cider and some from other local makers (www.millhousecider.co.uk).
If you do get a taste for good English cider then a good way to find it is to get a copy of Campaign for Real Ale publication The Good Cider Guide (www.camra.org.uk/books).
The book lists hundreds of cider makers and pubs that sell proper farm house cider.
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