Our local heirloom apples are different because of all the factors that go into the taste of the fruit.
- Soil, climate and weather conditions are the big three. As far as the taste of our local Watsonville apples, I would describe them as very smooth, complex and full of subtle flavors that don’t explode upfront. (Sounds like I’m describing a wine, doesn’t it?)
- These apples are a favorite. Their unique flavor is quite different than our Washington apples, which typically dominate year-round because of their great storage ability. Our Watsonville apples, however, are picked right off the trees and delivered directly to our stores.
- The heirloom apples we receive from Vince Gizdich fit into the taste profile previously described. Other characteristics include:
- They’re often oddly shaped
- They have different textures and colors that aren’t uniform
- They’re often russetted, which is that brown scaring look (not to worry; this is just part of their nature)
- The Stayman Winesap (which goes back to the mid 1800’s) is one of my favorites. It has a sweet/tart texture and is great to eat out of hand, makes for great applesauce, and is ideal for pies and baking. If you haven’t baked an apple it’s easy.
- Core it, leaving about ½ inch of the apple near the bottom, which will allow the scrumptious juices to stay in and not run off into the cooking dish. Add a little cinnamon, a few currents, maybe a dash of brown sugar or real maple syrup, a few chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans), and bake until tender (about 30-40 minutes). I really enjoy baked apples without sweeteners.
– Robbie Sigona is our produce buyer. He works with local farmers and scours the market for the very best in fresh fruits and vegetables — some you won’t find anywhere else.