In the Store with Sigona’s Featuring: Local Gizdich Ranch Apples

“Well, these galas are the best that I can remember from Vince, really. You need to get Galas at the beginning of the season when they are at their best. That’s when they are the most crisp. The sweetness stays later on, but you lose the crunch!”

-Robbie Sigona


One of the great things about living here is the local apples we get from our friends at Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville. We are thrilled to share with you some of our early autumn favorites:  heirloom varieties like the Newton Pippin, lunchbox favorites like the Red Delicious and of course, the McIntosh, one of the oldest and most popular varieties around.

At the end of this article, we’ve included a cheat sheet with some basic information to help you choose the varieties you like best.

More about Gizdich

Instead of using chemical pesticides, the ranch uses integrated pest management, that is, they work to create a friendly habitat for “good” bugs that are the natural predators of “bad” bugs on an apple orchard.

The farm is open nearly every day where you can take a self-guided walk through the apple orchards and berry farm, as well as the antique shop which features an impressive collection of apple peelers hanging from the ceiling.  And you can wrap up your day with a visit to the pie shop and deli.

Here’s the cheat sheet we promised you:

  • Honey Crisp: This cross between a Macoun and Honeygold was developed in the 1960s at the University of Minnesota.
  • Flavor profile: sweet, crisp, very little acidity.
  • Recommended for: snacks, salads, lunchboxes.
  • Cooking: not recommended.
  • Empire: A cross between a McIntosh and Delicious apple.
  • Flavor profile: crisp, juicy. Mildly tart but sweet flavor.
  • Recommended for: snacks, baking, salads, lunchboxes.
  • Cooking: not recommended.
  • Royal Gala: An early harvest dessert apple, these are the very first apples of the season.
  • Flavor profile: sweet, sort of crisp.
  • Recommended for: snacks, salads, lunchboxes.
  • Cooking: not recommended.
  • Newton Pippin: An heirloom American variety, it was the first American variety exported in volume to Europe. It’s grown almost exclusively here in California and Oregon.
  • Flavor profile: tart, crisp, juicy.
  • Recommended for: pies, sauce, juicing, eating.
  • Cooking: retains its flavor and shape.
  • Red Delicious: Striped to solid red with a distinct strawberry shape.
  • Flavor profile: crisp, sweet, juicy.
  • Recommended for:
  • Cooking: not recommended.
  • McIntosh: Very old variety. Red and green. McIntosh has juicy white flesh and a rather tough skin that has mixed red and green coloring.
  • Flavor profile: Tart, tender, juicy.
  • Recommended for: eating out of hand, sliced or chunks in salads, sauces, cider, pies.
  • Cooking: the flesh will soften but it retains flavor.

Of course, the best way is to choose an apple is to taste it for yourself. So next time you come in to the store, ask any one of us for a sample – see which varieties you like the best!



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