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Thursday, October 01 2015

It’s local apple season again! We are just starting to fill our produce case with the best organic apples Washington has to offer. With over 14,000 acres of organic apple orchards, the great state of Washington grows the vast majority of organic apples in the US, and a wide variety too. You’re sure to find an apple for every taste and purpose.

Apples are one of the most cultivated trees in the world, with thousands of known cultivars. In the book and film, The Botany of Desire, Micheal Pollan paints a picture of an enterprising, highly successful plant that, by giving people what they want (sweetness 

and nutrients), has “succeeded” in prompting humans to spread it around the world, and has achieved a global population with over 7,500 varieties.

It is little wonder that the apple has succeeded; it is sweet, palatable, diverse and nutritious. The difference between all of the varieties can be overwhelming. We carry many varieties at Farm Fresh Market, all with their own unique properties, tastes, and applications.

Many apples grown commercially are the offspring of chance seedlings discovered in cider orchards, as hard cider was once the primary use of apples in the U.S. This includes the Red Delicious, one of the most popular sweet varieties. This apple was “discovered” in 1880 in the town of Peru, Iowa. Red Delicious are recommend salad or eating apples, as they do not cook well.

The Red Delicious is an important part of apple history not only for its current popularity, but also for its genetics. It is the confirmed parent of the Fuji apple and a suspected parent of the Cameo. The Fuji was introduced to the U.S. in 1980 from Japan, though both of its parents, the Red Delicious and the lesser known Ralls Janet, are of North American origin. The Fuji is crisp, mild, and sweet, and wonderful for eating raw, adding to salads, and for applesauce.

The prolific Red Delicious is also the likely parent of the Cameo, a new variety of apple. Most modern apples are results of breeding programs, but the Cameo came about the “old-fashioned” way, a discovered seedling in a Red Delicious orchard here in Washington. It is speculated that the Golden Delicious is the other parent of this variety. The Cameo has a mild, sweet flavor similar to the Red Delicious, but is crisper with thicker skin. Cameo is best eaten raw, as it does not withstand cooking as well as other varieties.

Though they sound closely related, the Golden Delicious is very different from the Red Delicious; they are closely named because they were marketed by the same West Virginia nursery in the early 20th Century. It is also an American variety and the parent of the popular Gala apple, and possibly the parent of the Cameo. The Golden Delicious is sweet and tart and is good fresh and is also stable enough for baking.

From another corner of the globe, we have the renowned Australian apple, the Granny Smith. The most popular tart apple, the Granny Smith’s exact lineage is unknown, but it is likely a relative of the French crab apple. This acidic fruit was a chance seedling in 1860 at the Australian orchard of Maria Ann Smith (Granny Smith). It is a great baking apple and highly recommended for pies.

Also from the Southern Hemisphere is the Gala, developed in New Zealand in the 1930s and grown and distributed around the world due to their flexible growing conditions (Galas will thrive in hot and cold climates). The Gala is the offspring of the Golden Delicious and Kidd’s Orange Red and is the parent apple of the sweet and tangy Jazz. It is a versatile apple that is good for eating raw, making applesauce, and juicing.

Look for the new Washington crops here at Farm Fresh Market as the days grow shorter and the nights are cold and crisp. We’ll have all of your old favorites and perhaps an opportunity to try something new. Happy crunching, saucing, juicing, and baking!


Posted by: Stephanie AT 11:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email