Eyes Wide Open

Ain’t it funny how time flies. It has been over a week since I started this blog, yet the intensity of our harvest never allowed me to finish. Until now.

One of the wonderful things about harvest is that it allows you to rediscover lost wonders. For example, the first HoneyCrisp apple of the year, the changing colors, the smells, and realization that summer is over and winter will soon be here. Another is finding again one of those true gems of an apple, such as Ambrosia.

ambrosia n. Greek & Roman Mythology . The food of the gods, thought to confer immortality. Something with an especially delicious flavor.

Yep, when I first tasted an Ambrosia apple, I knew I’d had something special. And to find that farmers in British Columbia, Canada had helped develop the apple also imbued a “something special” tag on it. Many great things — fruit-wise — have come from this most majestic of all provinces, in particular this apple.

The Ambrosia apple was discovered in 1987 on the farm of Sally Mennell. It literally sprang up from the seeds of likely a Golden Delicious tree. After several years of deciding whether this variety was something to pursue commercially, they began to propagate trees and start a small Ambrosia orchard. By 1993, the Ambrosia apple was released commercially to little fanfare. Today, the Ambrosia apple is grown in very limited spots around the continent, with the majority of production focused in the western US and BC. Why isn’t it grown more widely elsewhere? Well, it is what’s known as a club variety. That is, the variety is strictly managed by restricting where and how much can be grown. This relegates the production to only those growers and those spots where it can be grown well. So, no matter where you find it for sale, you can have a pretty good degree of confidence that it will be a stellar selection.

More and more apples are being controlled through a “club” infrastructure, including the new SweeTango. This obviously limits availability, while absolutely ensuring the best quality. Keep your eyes open for any of the apples….they can be a life changing experience.

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About Farmer Mike Biltonen

Mike Biltonen is lifelong farmer with a passion for great tasting, sustainably grown food. He also has an opinion and this blog is his soapbox. But mostly he just likes to farm. Enjoy!
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