Heirloom Apples – Savor the Flavor
By Debra Morris, PCFMA
Take a trip to the Sebastopol area and you’ll notice acres of gorgeous apple trees heavy with crisp sweet heirloom apples. It is one of the last locations you’ll find the delicious Gravenstein apple. Travel down to the San Luis Obispo area and find the tiny area of See Canyon near Avila Beach, one of the few bastions of heirloom apple growers. Everything from Jonadel and Mutsu varieties, to the more familiar Baldwin and Spitzenberg apples can be found here.
At the farmers’ market you will also find amazing varieties of heirloom apples, as well as today’s favorites. Prevedelli Farms in Watsonville has heirloom Langford, Hauer Pippin, Pink Pearl and other sweet apple varieties. Rainbow Orchards of Camino offers a wide variety of interesting apples like Braeburn, Rome, Winesap, and Arkansas Black apples. Gravensteins, Empire, Sierra Beauty, Newtown Pippin, and many more heirloom apples can be found at Fruitilicious Farms from Watsonville. Many more market farmers have very nice apple selections such as Lujan Farms in Hughson, G Bar G from Half Moon Bay, and several others.
Heirloom apples are those that have been grown for more than 100 years. They are old cultivars that have been preserved and maintained by farmers and propagated over the centuries through grafts and cuttings.
Why do farmers keep growing and people keep eating heirloom varieties? Just like the heirloom tomato, it’s all about the flavor. Big behemoth Red Delicious or other common grocery store apples have nothing on the smaller, sweeter Gravenstein, Langford, or Sierra Beauty. Visit your local farmers’ market, talk to the grower and pick up a bag of heirloom apples for a taste of what an apple should be.