His comments were backed up by Pete Brown, author of The Apple Orchard and a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme.
“If you talk to supermarkets, they say they stock what the consumer wants – and that’s it. Firstly, we shop with our eyes, and if you get a deep, complex, honeyed and spiced apple that has brown russet on it, it won’t sell as well as an apple that’s bland and one-dimensional but has a pretty pink hue.
“Secondly, our tastes tend ever sweeter. We like early season apples and things that taste like them, not the more complex flavours of apples that harvest later,” Brown said. “But if you go to an Apple Day celebration like the one at Brogdale Farm, home of the National Fruit Collection, you see hundreds of people queuing to get new displays of hundred of different varieties. When people know about the amazing variety and complexity of apples, they are interested. So it’s not as simple as the supermarkets claim.” Stein visited the Cornish orchard as part of his new series championing the food, drink, culture and history of the county where he has made his home. Lockdown prevented Stein from going further afield this year.
He said: “I had been wanting to make a series about Cornwall for some time but we just never thought it would work outside the West Country. It didn’t seem a big enough subject.
“And then of course along came Covid and everyone started taking a fresh look at the country we live in.”
Other presenters of food programmes, including Mary Berry and Prue Leith, have admitted to skipping meals to keep their weight down while filming as they have so much food to taste.
Stein is not immune. “I tend to put on a bit of weight when I’m filming because you have to eat everything. I swim a lot and I walk a lot and generally when I’m not filming or working in a restaurant I do watch what I eat,” he said.
“I’m not a mad dieter but I tend to go for breakfast and a small lunch and not much in the evening, unless we’re going out.
“For me, one of the great joys of being locked down is that I haven’t had to go out to restaurants all the time.
“I shouldn’t be saying that because it’s my stock in trade but, actually, not going out has been a marvellous way of keeping one’s weight under control.”
:: Rick Stein’s Cornwall begins on BBC Two on January 4