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As with all fruit it is important to follow the seasons of the Northern and Southern hemispheres. For example an English Cox (which has had months in cold store) will very likely be disappointing in April, whereas an example from New Zealand or Chile should be fresh and delicious. Shops might offer both varieties - so beware.
Good Early British varieties: include Worcester Pearmain, Discovery and the now rarely found Beauty of Bath. These apple varieties arrive in late August, but are not good keepers.
Good Later British varieties: Cox"s Orange Pippin, Spartan and Egremont Russet.
For Cooking: Bramley apples are hard to beat and retain their acidity for months after being picked. All apples are rich in pectin, which as well as its use in setting jam. Pectin is also used as a stabiliser in food manufacturing (E440b).