Slow Food for Thought...

“Defending the earth means safeguarding biodiversity, the landscape and farming. Those who haven’t seen the importance of farming haven’t understood anything!”
Carlo Petrini, Founder of Slow Food

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Heirloom Apples & CWRU Farm Harvest Festival

We thought we'd share some photos of last weekend's Farm Harvest Festival hosted by Case Western Reserve University's Food and Farm Program at Squire Valleevue Farm. 

Slow Food Northern Ohio provided apples for the student chapter of Slow Food @CWRU to host a tasting at the event along with educational information about bees and their importance to our food system. 

Despite the afternoon rain, festival-goers enjoyed touring the beautiful Squire Valleevue Farm and had the opportunity to learn more about CWRU's Farm Food Program, a joint effort between CWRU and Bon App├ętit to grow food at the university's farm, provide educational opportunities for students and faculty to study sustainable local food production, and provide fresh food for campus dining facilities.

Many thanks to Bo Schultz of Schultz Fruit & Vegetable Farm for providing us with a stunning selection of unique and delicious heirloom and heritage apples for the tasting. 

Heirloom and heritage or antique varieties of apples offer us (quite literally) a slice of history. In the mid-nineteenth century, over ten thousand varieties of apples were being cultivated throughout the United States, each with their own unique story, flavor and purpose -- eating, baking, and cider making among the most important. Many of these apples were also selected and bred for their suitability to local climates and soils.  Over the years though, many of these apples have fallen out of favor and been ignored with the interest in higher yields for commercial production and more "durable apples that stand up to the rigors of cross-country and global shipping. To save our heritage and heirloom apples, we need to seek them out and enjoy them. We encourage you to support our local apple orchardists like Bo Schultz so that we can preserve this rich and diverse apple heritage.

We've included the list of apples we tasted below as well as a brief history of each. You can find some of these varieties at Bo Schultz' stand each Saturday at the North Union Farmers' Market at Shaker Square (and yes, he generously provides samples so you can taste before you buy). Some of our personal favorites of the day included the Ashmead's Kernel and the Karmign de Sonnaville. And Kandil Sinap won us over with its unique oblong shape. 

Esopus Spitzenburg: Antique apple, discovered early in the 18th century near Esopus, New York. Reputed to have been a favorite apple of Thomas Jefferson, who planted several of the trees at Monticello. Valued for eating, baking and as a cider apple.

Cox Orange Pippin: Cox's Orange Pippin is an apple cultivar first grown in 1825, at Colnbrook in Buckinghamshire, England, by the retired brewer andhorticulturist Richard Cox. Highly regarded for its excellent flavor and attractive appearance. The flesh is very aromatic, yellow-white, fine-grained, crisp and very juicy. Cox's flavor is sprightly subacid, with hints of cherry and anise, becoming softer and milder with age. When ripe apples are shaken, the seeds make a rattling sound as they are only loosely held in the apple's flesh. One of the best in quality of the English dessert apples; Cox's Orange Pippin may be eaten out of hand or sliced. Not recommended for cooking, it cooks to a fine froth. Cox's Orange Pippin is often blended with other varieties in the production of cider.

Karmign de Sonneville: Karmijn de Sonnaville is a variety of apple bred by Piet de Sonnaville, working in Wageningen (the Netherlands) in 1949. It is a cross ofCox's Orange Pippin and Jonathan, and was first grown commercially beginning in 1971. It is high both in sugars (including some sucrose) and acidity. It is a triploid, and hence needs good pollination, and can be difficult to grow. It also suffers from fruit russet, which can be severe. In Manhart’s book, “apples for the 21st century”, Karmijn de Sonnaville is tipped as a possible success for the future, but as time passes, it seems less likely to make it to the big-time.
Karmijn de Sonnaville is not widely grown in large quantities, but in Ireland, at The Apple Farm, 8 acres (32,000 m2) it is grown for fresh sale and juice-making, for which the variety is well suited.

20oz Pippin: Tart and tangy apple with high acid. Yellow flesh. Bakes firm with some juice. Holds it's slice. Use in several weeks. An all purpose variety that was first exhibited by George Howland of New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1843 at the Mass Horticultural Society. Evidently it was Howland who found the original seedling on his farm in Cayuga County, New York and then brought it with him to Massachusetts. As the name implies, this apple can reach enormous proportions. Attractive, very large, striped red flush over a greenish background. Flesh white and semi- firm with high quality; said to be the premier cooking apple for more than 100 years. Also great for dessert. Medium sized tree comes into bearing young.

Ashmead's Kernel: Ashmead's Kernel is often reported as having been raised by Dr Ashmead in Gloucester, England in the 18th century. However Christine Leighton of the Gloucestershire Orchard Group suggests he may have been William Ashmead. a lawyer who died in 1782. This dessert apple is of medium size, on average 83mm in diameter on vigorous rootstock and has a flat round shape. The base colour of the apple is greenish yellow, yet has a dull russet colour all over; sometimes there are brownish red stripes. When first cut open the flesh is white, then it soon develops a brown tint. Ashmead's Kernel makes a good apple juice because of its sweet sharp flavor. An English variety that also thrives in North America.

Sweet 16: Sweet Sixteen is a modern apple variety developed by the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center in the 1970s, the same folks who subsequently brought us Zestar and Honeycrisp. It is a Northern Spy crossed with a seedling of Malinda. It is said to be quite winter-hardy.
This medium-sized apple is mostly round with just a hint of ribbing. Its pretty red blush, streaky for the most part, is faintly marked with light lenticels that vary in size; the unblushed peel is a pale yellow tinted with green. Its calyx is clenched shut. Sweet Sixteen's flesh, coarse-grained and dripping with juice, is a light apricot yellow. Its flavors are mild, generally sweet with a little tempering tartness.Lush fruity cider flavors and cane sugar predominate, with the merest hint of spice and wine around the edges. Although Sixteen is sweet, there is enough going on that it does not cloy as so many modern varieties do. The extreme juiciness of the coarse-grained flesh and the striking orange-yellow color, which suggest a stone fruit, are unusual and attractive.

Kandil Sinap: This Turkish aristocrat is translated to "sweet apple of Sinop" after the Sinop Peninsula in the Black Sea. It's a tall, narrow and cylindrical with a creamy yellow porcelain-like skin blushed a brilliant red. Uniform shape lends to easy peeling. Crisp, juicy, fine-grained flesh with exquisite flavor. Dwarfish tree grows in narrow, pyramidal form.

King of Tompkins County: An old American variety originating from New Jersey and introduced in the early 1800s. The fruit is very large, and keeps well. Thought to have originated at Jacksonville in Tompkins County, New York, but Liberty Hyde Bailey investigated the tree there, and discovered that it was grafted. The cultivar was apparently brought from Warren County, New Jersey in 1804. This apple is large, and of excellent quality both as a dessert fruit and for cooking.[2] The fruit shape is uniform and the skin mostly red with some yellow stripes. The flesh is yellowish and crisp. The fruit does not keep as well as some other apple cultivars. The tree makes relatively poor root growth and should be grafted onto a different genotype that can provide more vigorous roots.

Sources: Wikipedia,,

Photos: Kari Moore

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