Name Variations Edit
About Gravenstein apple Edit
Wikipedia Article About Gravenstein apple on Wikipedia
This crisp, juicy, sweetly tart apple has a beautiful green skin streaked with red. It's in season from August to late September and available mainly on the West Coast. Although the Gravenstein is considered an all-purpose apple and makes delicious pies and applesauce, it does not do well when baked whole.
Gravenstein (Danish: Gråsten-Æble) is a variety of apple native to Gråsten in South Jutland, Denmark, although there is some evidence that the variety originated in Italy and traveled north.
The Gravenstein apple is considered by many to be one of the best all-around apples with a sweet, tart flavor, and is especially good for baking and cooking. It is picked in July and August and is known as a good cooking apple, especially for apple sauce and apple cider. It does not keep well, and so is available only in season. In addition, their short stems and variable ripening times make harvesting and selling difficult.
Most Gravenstein apples have a delicate greenish skin streaked with red, but a few trees produce classically red apples. These red apples, commonly known as Red Gravensteins, are considered a sport rather than a true variety.
The Gravenstein was introduced to North America in the early 19th century, perhaps by Russian fur traders, who are said to have planted a tree at Fort Ross in 1811. They are found most widely on the west coast of the United States, and in particular, in Sonoma County, California. Luther Burbank praised the apple, "It has often been said that if the Gravenstein could be had throughout the year, no other apple need be grown."
During the first half of the 20th century, Gravensteins were the major variety of apples grown in western Sonoma County, and were the source for apple sauce and dried apples for the U.S. troops in World War II. Most of the orchards in Sonoma County are now gone due to a combination of suburban development, a shift to wine production, and economic changes in the apple industry. Only six commercial growers and one commercial processor remain in Sonoma County as of 2006. In 2005, Slow Food USA declared the Gravenstein apple a heritage food and included it in their Ark of taste. Slow Food USA reports that production in Sonoma County is currently 750,000 boxes (15,000 tons) of Gravenstein a year; a third of the fruit (250,000 boxes) is of premium market quality.