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Top Of The Top Fruit

Kent’s tastiest top and soft fruit continues the tradition of putting the county on the producers’ map

Kentsand the nations tastiest pear winners B Piper partnership

Kent’s tastiest top and soft fruit continues the tradition of putting the county on the producers’ map.

One of the most important food and drink sectors in our beautiful county is fruit: both top fruit (apples and pears) and soft fruit (including cherries, raspberries and strawberries). The production of fruit has sculpted the landscape in Kent for centuries.

As part of the Taste of Kent Awards, we select the tastiest of these fruits when they are at their peak seasons and celebrate the growers who nurtured them throughout the year.

During the National Cherry and Soft Fruit Show, held at Macknade Food Hall, Faversham, on Friday 23rd July 2021, all of the Kent-grown entries were judged on taste alone by both professionals from the industry and members of the public. They selected the following winning varieties and growers for 2021:

Kent’s Tastiest Cherry – Penny variety, grown by A C Hulme & Sons, Wingham. Kent’s Tastiest Strawberry - Driscoll’s Zara variety, grown by R C Boucher & Sons, Newlands Farm, Sittingbourne. Kent’s Tastiest Raspberry – Nobility variety, grown by John Myatt & Co, Mockbeggar Farm, Cliffe Woods.

Once judging had taken place, the fruit from all of the entries in the National Cherry & Soft Fruit Show was displayed for sale at Macknade’s Faversham store, with 50% of the sale proceeds (more than £800) going directly to support FoodLoop - an initiative that aims to reduce and reuse unnecessary food waste.

Finn Dunlop, group purchasing manager at Macknade, said: ‘The National Cherry & Soft Fruit Show presents an excellent opportunity at the peak of the season for us to highlight not only the myriad of incredible fruits that can be produced in the UK but also to raise awareness with our community of the FoodLoop initiative - a cause we passionately believe in.’

Floortje Hoette at Produced in Kent comments: “We would like to congratulate this year’s winners. All the displayed fruit looked fantastic and tasted delicious, so it was a difficult decision for the judges to make.

"Kent is renowned for producing excellent fruit and our awards aim to showcase the great tastes and flavours of Kent throughout the seasons. It is so important for Produced in Kent to ensure that Kent growers are highlighted through these awards as we continue to demonstrate Kent’s fabulous fruit heritage”

The National Fruit Show was held on October 21st at the Kent County Agricultural Society Show Ground at Detling, and again all of the entries from Kent were taste[1]tested and winners selected in both the Apple and Pear categories.

The 2021 panel of judges was made up of John and Stuart Guest (John blogs as The English Apple Man); Professor Rebecca Cassidy from Goldsmiths University; Wendy Chapman and Peter Checkley, who are both experienced fruit growers; and Gary Marshall, chair of the Covent Garden Market's Tenants Association.

Executive chair of the show, Sarah Calcutt, comments: “The overall consensus was that, despite the atrocious weather at times this year, the quality and depth of flavour in the entries really demonstrates what a difference the British climate and terroir makes to the flavour of fruit grown here.

“The criteria for entry into Taste of Kent Awards are to be a National Fruit Show winner as well as a high points scorer in the main dessert apple and pear classes.

“The National Fruit Show has its own tastiest apple, which is often, though not always, the same as the Kent winner. This year, the awards were presented to the winners in person, which was a joyful experience for all.”

The winner of the 2021 Taste of Kent Award for Kent’s Tastiest Apple is Elverton Farms Ltd for its Gala Variety. The Johnson family, on their farms just outside Faversham and Canterbury, grow pears, cherries and hops as well as growing outstanding Gala apples.

Sarah Calcutt adds: “They are strong supporters of the National Fruit Show, regularly picking up a few trophies and we are thrilled to see them bring home this trophy.”

The winner of the 2021 Taste of Kent Award for Kent’s Tastiest Pear is B Piper Partnership for its Concorde Variety. Brian Piper and his daughter Rachel (pictured) are very well known for their cherries, regularly picking up multiple awards in the cherry and soft fruit show, which is held annually.

Sarah Calcutt adds: “It was wonderful seeing them get the inaugural Tastiest Pear award with Concorde, a very worthy winner that received great praise from the judges.”