Fall into Local Apple Season

Fall into Local Apple Season

Fresh-picked, local apples are now available in our stores, including some unique heirloom varieties from Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville, Calif.

Despite the latest hot spell, fall is rolling in around the Bay Area. School has started, the leaves are beginning to change and locally grown apples have made their way to our stores.

Over the next few months you’ll find heirloom varieties with names as unique as their flavor, including Newtown Pippin, Stayman Winesap, Prime Golden and Black Twig. These and more, such as Honeycrisp

and MacIntosh, Gala and Fuji, come from Vince Gizdich of Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville, Calif.

Dedicated Family Farmers

Our relationship with Gizdich Ranch is indeed treasured. We’ve worked with Vince for more than 30 years to provide sweet, vine-ripened berries, such as boysenberries and olallieberries, unique and heirloom apples and even fresh-pressed apple juice.

Carmelo Sigona and Vince Gizdich taking a tour at Gizdich Ranch.

“We’ve started harvesting Honeycrisp, Gala, Empire and MacIntosh varieties, which we delivered yesterday to Sigona’s, and we’ve also started size-picking a few Pippins,” said Vince, a third-generation farmer. “The Pippin is one that’s definitely an heirloom, though some don’t really recognize it as such. George Washington planted them on his farm in Virginia. Those trees are still alive and well to this day, it’s incredible.”

Heirloom apples, much like heirloom tomatoes, are not known for their beauty. They’re often scarred, small and quickly perishable. That’s because their makeup hasn’t been altered to beautify or prolong shelf life. For produce to be considered an heirloom, the variety has to have been grown without being tampered with or cross-bred, from generation to generation, for at least 50 years.

Vince grows many apple varieties just as they originated – some of his trees are 100 years old – so they maintain their true heirloom qualities. Take the Red Delicious, for example.

There’s the Red Delicious you can buy at a supermarket or big box store at any point in the year, and then there’s the original, heirloom Red Delicious that comes straight from within hours of harvest. This Red Delicious, a smaller, not-so-perfectly red apple is sweeter and crisp (but not hard) with a lovely perfumed fragrance that’s outstanding for a Red Delicious. Vince’s Red Delicious apples will arrive in a few weeks and will only hold fresh for about three weeks, so keep an eye out for them.

“The crops this year are looking good, but as with other crops in our area, they’re delayed a little due to the weather,” said Vince. “It’s just one of those seasons; we’ve left the apples on the tree past the date we normally pick so they develop full flavor. Those that are ready to harvest are eating really well.

Eat an Apple a Day

Giving an apple to a school teacher is a gesture that dates back a hundred years or more, and while there are many theories as to why, we simply think it’s a nice coincidence that apple harvest coincides with the start of the school year.

Apples don’t bruise easily, don’t require refrigeration and just need a quick rinse before taking a bite. They’re great as a part of a healthy breakfast or a brownbag lunch.

Reaching for an apple is a better choice than reaching for empty carbs that burn quickly and leave you searching for another snack. Grated, sliced, diced or dried, apples are a source of minerals and natural enzymes (which help digestion) as well as both soluble and insoluble fiber, which breaks down slowly for sustained energy. To top it off, apples also contain an excellent amount vitamin C and are rich in and powerful antioxidant polyphenols & flavonoids (especially the Red Delicious).

Find apple recipes, such as one for Pork Chops with Apples & Sage as well as one for my Uncle Carmelo’s Power-Packed Oatmeal with a Sweet Apple & Almond Topping on our blog.

Visit the Gizdich Ranch pie shop for fresh-baked pies.

Pik-Yor-Self

A trip to Gizdich Ranch is the perfect way to spend a crisp fall day out and about with the family. Even Sunset magazine agrees – they recently featured Gizdich Ranch as a Watsonville attraction! Gizdich Ranch is open to the public and operates a “Pik-Yor-Self” option for apples (or berries when they’re in season). The ranch also features an antique shop, farm tours, picnic areas, a view of apple juice pressing (get some free this week) and last, but certainly not least, the Gizdich Ranch Pie Shop.

Ending the day at the Gizdich Ranch Pie Shop is a must for a slice of fresh-baked pie made with ranch-grown apples or other seasonal fruit. Gizdich pies are famous…they’ve been known to bake up to 300 pies in a single weekend!

The pie is so good, we partnered Gizdich Ranch with local gelato maker Massimo Caporale of Gelato Massimo to create our very own Sigona’s Heirloom Apple Pie Gelato, made with Gizdich Ranch apple pie. It can only be found at Sigona’s!

Gizdich Apple Juice? We carry that at our stores too. You can get a half gallon of it for free this week (Sept. 21 – 27, 2011) with your coupon and a purchase of $30 or more! See our blog for details.

We always have a full selection of apple varieties available year-round. Following is a list of some new-crop apples, including a few from Washington state, that are in now.

Keep checking back at the store for more varieties this fall and throughout the year.

Some varieties we have in now:

MacIntosh/McIntosh: Vince has maintained the quality of the very old, original Macintosh variety – they’re smaller than most Macintosh apples coming from Canada and Washington. This heirloom variety is red and green in color with tart, tender & juicy flesh. By nature, it’s not a crispy apple, but when they’re fresh they have a refreshing snap, making them nice for eating or cooking, however when it’s cooked, it loses shape, but retains its flavor. It’s said this variety originated in Canada around the 1800s. They’re available now in our store.

Gala: This is an early harvest dessert apple that originated in New Zealand and was introduced to the U.S. in the 1970s. Its skin is orange and yellow with a red blush, and its flesh is sweet and slightly crisp. It’s great for snacks, salads and lunchboxes. It doesn’t do well as a cooking apple, but we won’t stop you if you try. This variety is available now.

Tsugaru: This variety has a firm flesh with a light sweet-tart flavor. It originated in Japan in 1975 as a result of an open-pollinated Golden Delicious apple. It has a red color with a yellow background. We’re carrying Washington-grown Tsugarus now.

Sansa: This apple is a cross between a Gala and an Akane apple. The bright red fruit is medium sized, with a firm, juicy white flesh and a sweet, distinct flavor that is strongly influenced by the Gala. We’re carrying Washington-grown Sansa apples now.

Newtown Pippin: This light green apple has a distinct mottled collar (meaning a darker, rougher spot around the stem. The heirloom Newtown Pippin, which is said to have originated about 300 years ago in Newtown, Long Island, NY, is a tart, crisp and juicy apple that’s fantastic for pies, sauces, juicing or simply eating out of hand. When cooked, it retains its shape well. They’ll be available any day. Thomas Jefferson is said to have once written home from Paris as saying, “They have no apples here to compare with our Newtown Pippin.”

Empire: This sweet-tart, juicy apple has a very crisp texture with creamy white flesh. It’s the result of a cross between a Red Delicious and a MacIntosh and was introduced in 1966 in New York. This variety is great for sauce, baking in pie or freezing.

Honeycrisp: This apple, introduced in 1991 and originated in Excelsior, Minnesota at the University of Minnesota’s apple development program, is a cross between a Macoun and a Honeygold. It’s large, crisp and juicy, making for a great eating apple.

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