In Norfolk the Beefing apple has been known since the end of the 17th century, though it was mentioned in a few letters even 100 years earlier. This apple was particularly popular during the 19th century, when it was cultivated both for commercial use and in private gardens. Its popularity did not last long, having been almost forgotten already in 1900. Today there are only a few Beefing apple trees left, found in Norfolk county.
This is a variety that is well suited to being cooked and for the preparation of deserts. The peel, which is rather thick, is violet with stripes of red with hints of green. When mature, the peel becomes bright red with hints of gold. The Norfolk Beefing apple has a very rich flavor, and when the apple is dried it tastes similar to raisins or cinnamon. When they are dried out in the oven these apples are known as “Biffins”.
In the Victorian Age this apple was often dried out in the ovens of the breadmakers from Norwich, to be packaged and sent off as gifts or to the fruit sellers in London.
The preferred way of preparing Beefing apples is to dry them, though the apples from the beginning of the season can be eaten cooked, while those conserved through April become sweet enough to eat fresh. Another popular way to prepare Beefing apples is in cider.