An Apple Revolution: Part I

Back in the day before SweeTango or HoneyCrisp, or even Gala and Braeburn, there were two types of apples you would find in a grocery store: red and yellow. And, yes, you can rest assured that they were probably ‘Delicious’. Then, in 1972, Grady Auvil, of Auvil Fruit Company, planted the first ‘Granny Smith‘ orchard in Washington State (and the US as well). This planting represented a significant departure for US orchardists from the steady production stream of Reds and Goldens. While many of our apple varieties came from Europe, none (that I know of) came from Australia or other Pacific Ocean countries until Granny Smith. That doesn’t mean there weren’t some scattered about. It just means that major US production was still focused on the “Big 2” and that American consumers had yet to discover the truly great apples that we now find regularly in supermarkets, farmers markets, and CSAs. The Granny Smith apple kicked off a revolution in US apple production.

One of the great “other” introductions from Down Under came from New Zealand. The Braeburn apple was discovered at Williams Brothers Braeburn Orchards near Nelson, New Zealand, in the 1950s. Most presume that ‘Lady Hamilton’ apple was one of the parents, while the other parent is considred to be ‘Granny Smith’–but there is no way to verify this. This apples’ rich sweet – tangy spicy flavor has high impact with consumers. It is a very firm aromatic, juicy, crisp, apple that combines sweet and tart. The apple was introduced to the US in the 1980s and is now major component of production throughout.

Braeburn stores very well if picked while still slightly immature (although at Red Jacket Orchards we have found quite the opposite….when picked right, of course!).  Braeburn is arguably at its best soon after picking and as such that’s how we like to serve it up .

Red Jacket Orchards doesn’t grow very many Braeburns at all. But what we do grow is quite good because of our growing conditions and ability to focus on this apple as a CSA and GreenMarket apple, rather than as one for supermarkets (in other words, we do not look to store it for very long in any year). So enjoy our Braeburns this fall (if you can find them) for as long as possible.

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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!
This entry was posted in Apples, Varieties and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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