The Brogdale Apple Festival (October), Brogdale Collection, Kent
A visit to the annual Apple Festival at Brogdale will open up a world of apples you didn’t know existed. Forget the predictable supermarket varieties such as Golden Delicious, Gala and Cox’s. Instead discover and taste new flavours from over 2,000 varieties grown to protect and preserve our national heritage collection.
The Brogdale Apple Festival near Faversham is the best place in the country to taste heritage apples
The orchards at Brogdale Farm in Kent house the nation’s fruit collection (and the world’s largest collection of fruit trees), so it’s the best place in the country to taste heritage apples. I arrived early in the day and spent the morning at the orchard and then headed over to Whitstable in the afternoon which is just 10 miles away. It’s a wonderful autumn day out and a unique way to celebrate the apple harvest. It will inspire you to come home and bake an apple pie.The Foodie Travel Guide
- Tour the apple orchard
- Taste apples from Britain’s Heritage Collection
- Workshops & talks
- Apple pie eating competition
Take a Tour of the Orchard
On a warm and sunny autumnal day with the sweet scent of apples in the air, touring the orchard is a lovely thing to do. You can either take a guided walk led by one of the many volunteers who work at Brogdale or for the less mobile, hop on a trailer and get driven around. Volunteers give you the background to the Brogdale Collection, share their tips on how to cultivate and grow your own apple trees, and invite you to taste different varieties.
Taste The Nation’s Apples
The highlight of the Brogdale apple festival is the Tasting Shed. It’s an enormous barn where you’ll find an impressive display of apples categorised by variety. They have intriguing names such as Blenheim Orange and Madame du Pompadour. Try ‘Anisa’ which tastes like a gobstopper; ‘Rubens’ which has a strawberry accent; ‘Ananas Rennet’ with its tropical taste of pineapple, and ‘Herefordshire Russet’, a gorgeous russet with a refreshing melon flavour.
Brogdale Apple Barn
Taste over 200 varieties of heritage apples
Taste a Cider Apple
For the curious, make sure you taste a cider apple. It’s probably an experience you won’t repeat again but its bitter taste will give you a better appreciation of cider-making. The high levels of tannins give a greater depth of flavour compared to ciders made using dessert and cooking apples which are naturally sweeter.
Take Part in a Workshop
Participate in one of the many free talks and workshops throughout the festival covering subjects such as sausage-making, the history of cheese and how to graft your own apple varieties. For children, there’s face painting and a miniature train which runs through the middle of the orchard.
Enter The Apple-Pie Eating Competition
For the hungry traveller, there are plenty of food stalls to choose from including a traditional hog roast. There’s also a micro brewery on site so you can buy a pint to drink with your lunch. Prefer something sweeter? Choose from toffee apples and apple-inspired cakes and pastries. If you’re really hungry, enter the apple-pie eating competition. Brogdale also has its own on-site café.
Brogdale Apple Festival Sign
Taste over 200 varieties of heritage apples
Buy An Apple-Inspired Supper
The permanent food shops on site include the renowned Brogdale Butchers, a small deli and Tiddly Pomme which specialises in Kent ciders and ales as well as English wine. Don’t leave without buying the excellent black pudding and pork sausages. If you’re visiting on a Sunday and fancy a roast, pick up a fruit-fed pork loin, a large bottle of Kentish cider and an apple pie for pudding. It will make a delicious end to your apple-inspired day.
- Bring your wellies if you’re planning on doing the walk
- Brogdale run a number of festivals throughout the year so put these dates in your diary – the magnificent Hanami blossom festival in April, the Cherry Festival in July and the Cider Festival in late August
- If you’re a keen grower, the garden centre has a selection of trees and plants that will tempt you to go home with a new purchase
- Brogdale runs an active volunteer programme and many of the volunteers help out at the Apple Festival
Squeezing lemon juice over chopped apples will slow down the process of them going brown (this also works well for avocado and banana slices)
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It’s a doggy day out for me too but only if I’m well-behaved.