Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Red Gravenstein Apples

Gravenstein applesThis is the first time I've had Gravenstein apples. I've always thought that I'm not that fond of sweet, creamy-fleshed apples (preferring them tart and greenish-white) but I have decided that I am prepared to make an exception for these. They have a gentle, almost lemony acidity to balance their sweetness very well, and a light floral perfume.

These were sold to me as Gravensteins, but judging by the colour, they are almost certainly Red Gravensteins, a sport of the original variety. There appear to be quite a number of Gravenstein sports.

Gravensteins are a very old apple, dating back to perhaps 1669. They likely originated in Gråsten, in south Jutland, and became so popular in Denmark that they are now the national apple of Denmark. Despite the claims on a number of sites that they are a very early ripening apple, I think the site that declared them to be available in October and November was correct, at least in Ontario.

I was a bit surprised in researching these: it seems they have almost a cult following. The great Luther Burbank said of them "It has often been said that if the Gravenstein could be had throughout the year, no other apple need be grown." However, they will not be the easiest apple to find, as they are difficult to harvest as they are short-stemmed (so inclined to fall easily from the trees) and do not all ripen at once. They don't store well, they bruise easily, and the trees are not very disease resistant. They may also bear unevenly, with a heavier crop every second year. (This is unlikely in newer versions.) Consequently, they are uncommon. They are likely more available in Nova Scotia, where they were established early and were at one time a very widespread apple.

As Burbank implied, these were regarded as a very versatile multi-purpose apple, being used for brandy, cider and juice, cooking, applesauce, drying - they were the mainstay of the California dried apple industry at one point - as well as eating out of hand. In cooking, they will shrink down and become very soft, so you might want to mix them with sturdier apples for pie.

Red Gravenstein Apple on Foodista

1 comment:

Valli said...

It's so wonderful to be able to get some of the old heirloom apples (if that is what they are called?). We have many different varieties of apples in BC, but Ontario has more!