Old Apple Varieties are New Again
After almost disappearing, apple varieties that were popular 30 to 40 years ago are making a comeback! People are tired of uniformly shaped, waxed and shiny, generic and tasteless apples. Today there are more than 450 apple growers in the state of California. We currently rank as the country’s fourth highest apple producing state. And many of these farmers are returning to growing heirloom (antique) varieties, full of flavor and texture.
Fruitilicious and Prevedelli Farms, both with orchards in Watsonville, have a nice variety of heirloom apples. Rainbow Orchards out of Camino offers quite a few varieties. Lujan Farms from Hughson has a nice selection. And Smit Farms near Stockton has a very nice variety from which to choose.
For many years there have been small pockets of heirloom apple growing regions, from the town of Julian and Oak Glen in Southern California, to Lodi, to See Canyon near San Luis Obispo. Up in Northern California there is the famous Gravenstein growing region near Sebastopol and The Apple Farm near Philo. There's even "Apple Hill" in Camino where all kinds of apples are grown. These areas have become major tourist attractions in the autumn months.
Visitors have learned to discriminate between a delightfully sweet or tart heirloom and those that are abundant in the supermarkets. These apples have fun and interesting names like Limbertwig, Jonagold, Chieftain, Heaven Sent, Spitzenberg, and Black Amish, and they all have very distinct, very flavorful tastes.
This fall, visit your local farmers' market where they offer a nice range of these tasteful fall fruits. We bet you won't go back to mundane supermarket apples again!