Do cloned Bramleys taste better than grafted Bramleys?

19 Oct 2017 15:13:15.937

Visitors to this year’s Southwell Bramley Apple Festival are going to be asked a big question – does apple juice made from an orchard of Bramleys cloned from the original, taste different to apple juice made from regular Bramleys produced from conventional grafting methods? And if so which tastes better?

The University of Nottingham’s Enabling Food Innovation team has been called in by Starkey’s fruit growers in Southwell to get to the root of the issue. This video will tell you more.

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Why? Because Starkey’s are growing the only commercial cloned copies of the original tree. Why is the University of Nottingham interested? Because back in the early 1990s the University produced those clones from the original tree.

The University team, comprised of academics from the University’s Sensory Science Centre and Flavour Laboratory, led by Alice Jones, need volunteers to blind taste apple juice made from Starkey’s Bramley apples and Bramley apples from a commercial orchard in Kent. They will have a stand inside Southwell Minister this coming Saturday and everyone is welcome to get involved.

The background to this story

The Bramley remains one of the most widely grown British culinary apples. It is famous and much loved throughout the world for its unique flavour and excellent cooking qualities. But there are two different kinds.

Bramley trees growing today are all grafted cuttings of grafted cuttings taken over many generations — the majority have little connection with the original tree. A mutational change in any one accession will have been perpetuated countless times into modern-day Bramley trees. This could have led to subtle changes in fruiting and fruit quality.

Back in 1994 Professor Ted Cocking, an expert in biological chemistry at the University of Nottingham, took genetic material from the original seedling tree to preserve its DNA. Using modern biotechnology methods he was able to produce clones thereby preserving this unique fruit.

The Starkeys protected the Bramley’s genetic inheritance for future generations by planting a Centenary Orchard of cloned Bramley apple trees. These trees are the only commercial copies of the tree and are lovingly tended by hand.

Volunteers needed for tasting

The tasting team need 200 volunteers to make their experiment work. Once they have the results they will also be doing some scientific tests of their own in the University’s sensory labs to analyse aroma and compositional properties.

This year’s Southwell Bramley Apple Festival of Food and Drink is being held on Saturday 21 October 2017, 10am-4pm.

Alice said: “This project is a wonderful demonstration of how our Enabling Food Innovation team can work with small businesses to provide expert scientific support, that they otherwise may not have access too. We work with a wide range of local SME’s who may have an innovative idea they want to research or a particular issue they need expert input to overcome, giving access to some free advice, state-of-the-art equipment and scientific expertise.”

“This project is also a great way to connect the public with scientific research and we’re looking forward to hearing what people think!” 

— Ends —

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Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


Story credits

Note to editors: More information is available from Alice Jones, in the University of Nottingham’s Food Innvation Centreon +44 (0) 115 9516739, or Jane Icke, Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Science, on +44 (0)115 951 5751,

Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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