Local Bounty: December 10
A treasure trove of heirloom apples
Last week, I shared some unusual persimmon varieties I was introduced to at Specialty Produce. What I didn’t mention is that while in the chilly walk-in refrigerator where they keep the farmers market produce I got sidetracked by boxes of unusual apples. Heirloom apples from Heirloom Orchards. Okay, they aren’t local to San Diego or even California; they’re grown in Oregon in the Hood River Valley. But if you’re an apple lover and intrigued by varieties you just can’t find even at your local farmers market, you’ve got to try these for the short time they’re here and in season. I picked out three varieties that you may have heard of but haven’t tasted or haven’t seen in awhile. So, here we are, back at Specialty Produce for some unusual treats.
From left: Caville Blanc, Golden Russets, Winesap
These French apples have ridges. And a soft blush. And even little red freckles. According to Heirloom Orchards, they appear in a Monet painting called “Apples and Grapes.” I love their tart spicy flavor and with all that they have the reputation of being the best apple pie apple around. $2.50 a pound
This heritage variety is believe to originate from English Russets. It’s a pretty homely apple—kind of greenish bronze with freckles, hence the “russet” name. But, it’s crisp with a fabulously sweet flavor. Snack on it, of course, but you can also juice them for cider or dry them. This is a pretty easy technique. Simply slice into pieces about ¼-inch thick—peel on or off—and then soak in equal parts of lemon juice and water. Place the drained apple slices on a cake rack over a baking sheet and cook in a pre-heated 140-degree oven for about five hours until the slices are dried and flexible. Eat immediately or let cool and store in a sealed jar. You can also freeze them in a plastic bag. $2.50 a pound
You might think this is just your basic school lunch red apple, but oh no. This is an heirloom apple that may have been brought to the U.S. over 200 years ago and whose genes contributed to the terrific Arkansas Black apple. It’s quite juicy and a bit tart, making it a go-to apple for cider making, but equally great for pie making, applesauce, or other cooking methods. Or, hey, just eat it out of hand. $3.25 a pound