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Do You Know About Gravenstein Apples?

+3 votes
Aug 4, 2017 in Food & Drink by Virginia (7,565 points)

Those wonderful apples were all over when I was growing up in Washington State, and now you can hardly find them! They make the best pies, applesauce, cobblers you find mother never used anything else.

It seems they originated in Europe somewhere, arrived Denmark in 1669, then made their way to North America. They don't keep well, so they are not grown commercially; you just find them in old orchards and around old houses. 

Well I FINALLY found an old Gravenstein tree, hurrah! So now I was wondering; what kind of apples grow where you live? India, Serbia, Switzerland, USA or wherever you you have childhood memories of great apples?

Gravensteins may not look like much...but they are wonderful.


3 Answers

TheOtherTink Aug 4, 2017

Nope, never (knowingly) tried them, but they sound great. :)

Are they anything like Granny Smith apples?

Virginia TheOtherTink Aug 4, 2017

Yes O'Tink, same concept as Granny Smith with the tartness that makes for good pies, but Gravenstein are MUCH more flavourful, and their skin is thinner.

Rooster Aug 4, 2017

Sorry, never heard of them but I'm not a big apple fan! 


Virginia Rooster Aug 4, 2017

Peaches are good too, Rooster! Peach trees rare here west of the Cascades, but eastern Washington semi-arid is great for those...huge commercial orchards!

Marianne Aug 5, 2017

Yes, of course, I remember several sorts of apples, including the Gravenstein, and, besides the Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Cox's Orange, Braeburn, Gala, Idared, Jonagold, etc. some older and more recent cultivars:

and, of course, the well known

and some rare sorts, like Bovard, Beutchin, Citron d'hiver, Baron de Berlepsch, Calville blanc d'hiver, etc.

The list is long:

Virginia Marianne Aug 5, 2017

Marianne, the rare sorts you list...I have heard of none of those! But learning of the probable European origin of the gravenstein, I am not surprised but still gratified you know of THAT one...

Marianne Marianne Aug 9, 2017

Lol, Virginia - I remember a few of our European sorts; when we were kids, we had apples very often - and they are still much appreciated, but many of the old sorts have become rare.


Virginia Marianne Aug 9, 2017

Marianne, I also just found an old tree with yellow transparents, another apple variety I recall from childhood but you don't see much now!

Marianne Marianne Aug 10, 2017

Yes, Virginia - quite a few of these old, classic sorts have been used to create new sorts.

But there has been also an increasing concern about ancient, rustic cultivars, and various local and regional conservation programmes of ancient and rare crops, vegetables and fruits have been initiated since long, like for ancient and rare domestic animal species.

You have certainly various local and regional NGO's, and here in Europe, the SAVE Foundation acts as an umbrella organisation for the conservation of agrobiodiversity:

Virginia Marianne Aug 10, 2017

Marianne, I did not know about the SAVE Foundation and am glad to know it exists. I recall, I believe it was in Russia, or perhaps the Ukraine...somewhere in the old USSR...

Anyway, farmers were given wonderful new seeds for high-producing wheat (or some kind of grain staple), but they soon abandoned it and went back the old one; which was resistant to disease and also drought-tolerant. With the new one, their crops were unpredictable and they could get into starvation.

Also the seed bank; isn't that located in an underground vault somewhere in Greenland, or maybe Iceland? Anyway, do I recall correctly, they have ALREADY needed to draw on those reserves to restore a lost strain of agriculture, when the inbred or GMO stuff just failed...?

Marianne Marianne Aug 13, 2017

Oh yes, Virginia, I remember having heard about this seed bank in the "high north"; actually, it is Spitsbergen, an island of the archipelago Svalbard, in Northern Norway:

And I wouldn't blame the farmers who abandoned the new seeds (from big business); it happened in Ukraine, known for its fertile soil ...


Virginia Marianne Aug 13, 2017

Marianne, THAT was a fascinating video...I watched it twice! And I am VERY glad Morgan Stanley failed in their attempt to make $multi-billion profits in Ukraine agribusiness. Lehman Brothers collapsed just then (2007-8), plus M-S had difficulty getting the chemical fertilizers and the replacement parts for their huge tariff problems in exporting their harvest.

First "positive" effect I have seen from the Great Recession stopped or at least helped slow down the commodification of the Ukraine breadbasket!

* * *

Oh and yes indeed...the Norway archipelago; that is the Global Seed Vault I was thinking of...

Marianne Marianne Aug 13, 2017

Yes, Virginia, I must say that this big agribusiness is causing condiderable damages, as the related pesticides are destroying the biodiversity of many zones. I am also thinking about the extermination of the bees and other pollinating insects, and other animals, native plants, etc., and the related health problems to the populations living in these zones.

Virginia Marianne Aug 13, 2017

Yes! In Iowa I learned about the Green Revolution...Norman Borlaug won a Nobel Prize...

In the short term, all these 'modern' techniques did save millions of lives; but over the long run, lives lost along with devastation of the farm land. (@Marianne)

Marianne Marianne Aug 13, 2017

Yes, Virginia, the problem is that there is no sustainability in destroying the natural resources.

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