Share this post

heirloom-apples-freshpoint-produce

A face for radio: Heirloom Apples

Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, and Gala along with a few others seem to dominate the apple selection in most markets, but did you know there are over 7,000 apple varieties being grown worldwide?

In fact, 90% of the apples sold in the United States are from only 11 varieties.

These varieties, for the most part, have gained in popularity due to a few factors: they are uniform in size and shape, they hold up in transit better, and their ability to survive in controlled atmosphere storage. Heirloom apples, also known as heritage and/or antique apples, are bred for one thing—flavor.

heirloom apples-freshpoint-illustrated

Exactly what is an heirloom apple?

There is no definitive definition, though most people define an heirloom apple as a variety that can be dated to the period of time that pre-dates refrigerated rail cars.  Many of the varieties that were grown and sold in the United States into the mid 1940’s are now threatened or extinct, in fact, one variety (Red Delicious) accounts for 41% of the entire domestic crop.

All is not lost, however, as many growers are re-discovering these old and flavorful varieties and have begun selling them directly to consumers at the thousands of farmers markets being held nationwide.  In fact, this direct selling model has seen double digit growth.

Heirloom apples may not appear perfect, some are lumpy, some have odd shapes, and some may even be flat out ugly. What these apples do have is superior flavor and a great story.  Thomas Jefferson, while visiting France in the late 1700’s, wrote to James Madison saying, “They have no apples here to compare with our Newtown Pippin.” Noted food writer James Beard wrote in 1972 that “a number of the old-fashioned varieties [of apples] we used to know are in short supply or have disappeared from circulation entirely.… The great Gravensteins and Spitzenbergs seem to have vanished.”  It’s not all gloom and doom, these varieties that Jefferson and Beard waxed poetic about are starting to appear once again, albeit on a limited basis.

What can we do to save these wonderful varieties?

Education and introduction are the keys.  Once consumers taste what an apple should taste like, they may never want to return to their Red Delicious again.

 


Content provided by Daniel Snowden, the Director of Culinary Development for FreshPoint Central Florida. He has been in the produce industry years almost 20 years, and loves getting geeky about food. Follow FreshPoint Central Florida on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Follow FreshPoint, Inc. on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

 

Comment Guidelines

Thanks for checking out our blog. Here's a heads up that all comments will be moderated and won't be posted if they don't meet the following guidelines.

  • Please stay on-topic.
  • No offensive language.
  • No self-serving or flagrant promotion of goods, sites or services. We may remove any URL for any reason.
  • No personal attacks (hostile, derogatory or deliberately insulting comments toward a specific individual or group).
  • No flaming (posting comments intended to induce an angry response).
  • Original material only.
  • You must be over the age of 13.
  • If you have customer service issues, business propositions, partnership pitches, or employment issues, please visit our Contact page.
  • If you have a question or concern pertaining to a specific store, please contact your Location for assistance.
  • FreshPoint team members may join in the discussion, but will not address internal issues.
  • FreshPoint reserves the right to not post or remove any comments at any time for any reason.

Please note: if a portion of a comment is not allowable, the entire comment will not be posted.