Amidst our flurry of activity in the garden from the tomatoes, eggplant, beans, peppers and melons, we suddenly noticed that our Gravenstein apples were ready for harvest. And while we say “ready for harvest” for the Gravensteins, that is a relative term, as the Gravenstein is a “variable harvest” apple. This means, basically, that the apples ripen unevenly, usually over a 2-8 week span. This is good for home use, as we get apples over a month or so, but this is both a blessing and a curse for this excellent variety of apple.
And the Gravenstein is a very tasty apple, more on the tart side, but certainly sweet enough to eat out of hand, the Gravenstein is an excellent apple for applesauce, cider and pies. In our house we eat them out of hand and primarily make applesauce, the kids (and even the adults) love it. But we will make a few desserts and cocktails with the apples, as well. And none of the apples go to waste, the overripe apples go over the fence to the deer and the any others we don’t use to a nearby horse barn for treats. The horses, apple aficionados that they are, are big fans of the Gravensteins.
The Gravenstein apple is a native of Denmark (it’s the “national apple”), but is most associated with Sonoma County in northern California. In the 20th century Sonoma teemed with Gravenstein apple trees, and many American soldiers ate applesauce from those trees. But the delicate (they don’t travel well) and variable nature of the Gravenstein led farmers to move to other varieties of apple, and even more so, grapes. Now the Gravenstein is more of a local symbol than a viable crop and many fear it will disappear from commercial production . There is a great New York Times article on the subject here.
But what makes for a poor commercial crop often makes for good home use, and in a small setting the Gravenstein is an excellent apple. While there are a few days where we will harvest a majority of the apples, many remain on the tree for weeks, ready for picking and eating. In some ways the Gravenstein stores its fruit for you on the tree. And there are few better ways to slow your pulse than to walk up to an apple tree, pick an apple and just take a bite. So while there are limited commercial opportunities for the Gravenstein, we think it will thrive in back yards for as long as people like apples.
And finally, this leads us to the apple itself. To us, there are few things more beautiful than the Gravensteins. Their colors look like they are painted on by an expressionist painter. All seem similar, but each apple is unique and beautiful. We never tire of their colors.
Note: Most of today’s photos come from our eldest son, Sam, who helped us while we picked apples. Thanks Sam!
- August’s Special: Gravenstein ‘Nola (tasteofpanache.com)
- Back To The Garden (putneyfarm.com)
- And Suddenly There Are Apples (putneyfarm.com)
- Preserving the Harvest (gardenreflections.wordpress.com)
- Glorious Gravensteins: A Baker’s Dream (karenpavonesfoodforthought.com)
- Garden Update: A Big Haul (putneyfarm.com)
- A is For Apples (My Guilty Pleasures)
This post makes me miss the apple-picking I did as a kid. And I love that reacher!
Thanks! And thanks for reading. Apple picking is fun (at least when you just have a few trees)…
Unfortunately, because of a late frost, our trees didn’t produce anything this year. Next year! Your apples look wonderful.
Thanks! And sorry about your crop…but as we know, there is always next year…nature seems to make it up to you sometimes..
Love you picking tool … wonderful – my grandma had a massive Gravenstein tree – the best flavored apples I know. Wonderful photos again. In the A-Z challenge I wrote about something very special that we have here in our county – that has to do with a loads of apples – there is the link. Please on the links inside the post … Apple picture is only on Swedish, but the pictures are the most important. http://wp.me/p293Pw-1F6
Thanks! We added the link…thanks again for sharing.
The picking tool is great fun, the kids love using it. And they love the apples. Such a great experience for them to simply pick and eat apples when they want…
An Apple a day … keeps the doctor away … *smile – liked picking apples too as a kid – now .. I leave it up to others.
You have a fantastic place … hard work but it gives you so much joy and great food.l
I used cored, peeled and chopped Gravensteins in a “white kimchi” recipe last week! I also met a gal camping who grilled a whole Gravenstein on an outdoor grill until it tasted like apple pie. You just need to make sure you poke a few holes in it or it will explode. 😉 Tis the season! Yummy!
Thanks for reading and sharing- the kimchi sounds amazing!
Out of the 100 varieties of apples in our orchard, I always tell everyone that Gravenstein apples make the best apple butter. Have you tried using yours that way?
No, but we will now…we are planning on making pear butter so we can do the same with apples! Thanks!
No, but we will now…we are planning on making pear butter so we can do the same with apples! Thanks! And we are very jealous of an orchard with 100 varieties of apples…sigh…
I think you will enjoy the apple butter. I’m sure the pear butter will be delicious. It will be interesting to see how many pears I have when we close the cottage in Maine and return to New Hampshire. Porcupines have gotten to the pears the last two years right when they are ready to pick.
Wow- porcupines as a pest are something we DON’T have…and we are OK with that… 😉
What beautiful pictures! The Gravenstein is by far one of our favorite apples. The property we purchased in 2006 is 1/4 acre of what used to be Sullivan Ranch. The only living thing that was here (besides weed and gophers!) was this old, overlooked and under-cared for Gravenstein. We have slowly been pruning and lovingly caring for it with great results. Thank you for visiting my blog ~ I will be following yours too.
Thanks! The Gravenstein trees can look kind of worn-down but are still very productive. One of our trees was a bit scraggly, but we pruned and it is in good sun- now it is more productive than our larger, “prettier” tree.
We like your blog very much (great photos) look forward to reading more…
I think I love you. Apples of any kind are my down fall. I love them! I think if I was there, you would find me laying on my back gazing at the clouds with a full belly of apples. mmm – you’re my new friend. Hogs and Kisses – Bacon
Thanks! And you just described our Sunday afternoon!
They look absolutely delicious !
*Sigh* This makes me miss our apple tree. I can’t believe it’s time for apple harvests — where has the summer gone?
It does go quickly. But for us, “Indian Summer” is better than real summer- less fog…so apples mean a new summer…
But enjoy fall, always pretty…
Very familiar with that apple picker! We went to one of those pay-by-the-peck places when we first moved here to NY and went a little overboard having so much fun collecting them. Can’t wait to get out and pick some more this year (usually best late September and after.) Enjoy yours!
Thanks- picking is almost too much fun. But we need that tool- out trees are old and it is the only good way to get the apples.
The great thing about apples is that there are so many varieties to choose from! Some people prefer sweet while others prefer tart. If you’re going to go apple picking, be sure to find out which varieties are at their ripest during the time that you are there since it varies!
It is a very local thing..but that s what’s so cool about apples…there is a variety for pretty much everyone…
This makes me want fall weather even more!
I found a recipe for apple pie moonshine yesterday. If you make cider, you should look it up on pinterest.
Thanks- we are looking at making “adult” cider…thinking about renting a press…
Gorgeous photos. I’m so ready for fall and cooking with apples!
We are very stoked to have apples to cook with…and for us it means our real “summer” is just starting.
They’re so beautiful! And Sam is an excellent photographer!
Thanks! Sam had a lot of fun…and it is the family blog so he and his brother get to have fun too…
That’s great. By the way, there’s a local orchard North Fork Cellars that makes a sour cherry hard cider, and the Denver Cider Company that infuses lavender and rosemary into an apple-honey cider (outrageously good, I may post about them soon)…
lovely apples! x
I absolutely love apple picking, or rather, eating the apples I gather! And that apple picker would definitely have been useful. I love apple season, and for the first time last week, I bought some delicious apples at the farmers market.
It is a fun season, even though we have our own we still partake at the farmers market…to many good choices to pass up…
I swear I could smell those apples as I was perusing your photos.
Beautiful! I have bought some in years past at our farmer’s markets. I couldn’t believe how crunchy and delicious! Good for you!
Definitely some beautiful apples! My grandparents had a Gravenstein tree in their yard – I’ve made many pies with these apples 🙂 PS – have you read Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire? (Also a documentary.) Fascinating history of the apple in the US!
Thanks, have read Pollan’s other books but not Botany…will read…thx
What great shots of such beautiful (and delicious) apples!
Your apple picker looks genius! I remember affixing an old tin can, lid half-off and bent up, to a long pole as a cherry-picker, but I think your contraption would work much better.
You! You WONDERFULL people! Ive been trying to identify my Apple tree that I have grown up with. My folks planted it when I was 5 and I’m now 55. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this tree and the many years of fruit it has given us. We have canned it, sauced it, baked it, juiced it, enjoyed it, shared it and cared for it. Thank you so much for your detailed and well defined article, because until now we did not know “Hap’s” true ID. We just called her “Hap” short for “happy apple tree”. (Named by my youngest sister, who was born here, she couldn’t say apple when she first began talking) Thank you again. Ps you make me want to hug my tree!