I've been hooked on these apples since I was a wee lass. Today, I can hardly wait for the coming of fall and then I'm hefting bags of them to my abode to covet and devour them behind closed doors. Due to their very short growing season, I buy bags apon bags for the fridge so I can keep them as long as possible. We don't have a root cellar or that would be stocked as well. If an apple a day keeps the doc away, well, I'll be writing up a credit for a many months to come.
No other apple comes close. The Granny Smith is a sloppy second and if I crave for an apple during the winter I would choose it begrudgingly. Others go wild over the different varieties of apples, the Honey Crisp being the golden child of the last few years, I gave it a shot but it was blah. I like a tart apple with some toe curling zing. The acid burns the back of your throat! Halleluiah! Also my other pet peeve, any apple that tastes remotely like a pear is a thumbs down for me, if I want pears I'll eat them, don't be messing around with the apple genetics to create ones that taste like another fruit, how stupid is that?
When the gravensteins first hit the shelves, you bring them home and let them rest for about a week, a bit less if the temperatures are warm. They are picked way too soon and need time to ripen. As the days go by you will start to smell them and what a sweet perfume it is. They have permeated my house, it smells like an apple bin and the fruit flies agree! Each day my precious apples get closer to being devoured. You can tell by the touch of their skin how ripe they are. The hard smoothness and sheen turns to a rubbery, sticky kind of dull look. Like most apples, I believe they are covered with something to preserve them as long as possible. Years ago the solution came from beetle wax but they probably have a synthetic today. The smell is driving me crazy, it's like catnip to a kitten.
The funny thing is, these objects of my desire don't like me. I have some sort of reaction when I eat them. I get swollen glands and a puffy face. But I'll take it and suffer, you betcha. It's worth the bloated neck and give me more! I look like I have a case of the mumps and if I was single girl I might be concerned but I have my guy and I haven't scared him off yet.
Gravensteins are a memory from my childhood. We had an old, gnarly tree in our back yard that dripped pure gold every September. In the spring the apple blossoms would be heavy laden, filling the air with their essence to signify the coming of a good crop.. I'd watch the little apples appear and grow on the branch, counting them by the hundreds and rubbing my hands together in anticipation. I start eating them so early they threatened to break my teeth so I devised a method to speed up their aging. It was an accidental discover. I'd use a long stick to beat them down off the tree and realized the bruised areas were juicy and sweet, so that taught me to pound them with the back of a large metal spoon until they softened into into sweet pulp. Almost like apple sauce without all the sugar. I'd eat dozens until my stomach was so full it leveled out in my esophagus. Never got the crappers either. My mom used to holler from the back door for me to stop eating the green apples, warning I'd get the poops but it never happened. I would eat them on the sly and throw the cores into the neighbour's yard.
I was obsessed with the taste, would have chosen it over candy and I panicked because as the apples ripened on the tree the worms moved in and I lost most of the crop. The tree was an accident that grew in the backyard, probably planted by a bird dropping seed. It was never sprayed and used as a fruit source so the worms could attack with abandon and rival my attempts to claim them all! As the top apples that I couldn't reach, ripened and fell from the tree, I'd have to cut around the brown holes to get my fix. No worm was going to cheat me of my apples! I don't know why I was so connected with this particular fruit, but as far back as I can remember, I've been gravenstein crazy and unless nature decides to retire that species, I'll be front and center hauling the bags home and making a pig of myself. All other fruits pale next to this apple and I'm not the only one that loves them. I see they have festivals in various areas to honour this apple and I'll bet the gravenstein was the tree in the Garden of Eden...sort of explains the temptation. thing, although I don't know why they were given to Adam, if I was Eve I would have eaten them all myself.
So every year I suffer a bit with what I call an allergy and luckily as I grow older it does seem to lesson on the severity of the symptoms. I try to eat just one a day and then drink lots of water to flush out my system but it still gets me. It's already started and I'm only a half dozen in. Of course with my blood sugars problems I can't eat them like I used too and they need to be accompanied with protein. I love to fry up a pork chop and slice the gravenstein and saute them in the pan with the meat for a transference of flavour. Apples and pork are a marriage made in heaven!
The Gravenstein apple has a tart flavor. It is picked in July and August and is heavily used as a cooking apple, especially for apple sauce and apple cider. It doesn't keep well, so it's available only in season. The skin is a delicately waxy yellow-green with crimson spots and reddish lines, but the apple may also occur in a classically red variation.
The red apples, commonly known as Red Gravensteins, are considered a sport rather than a true variety. The flesh is juicy, finely grained, and light yellow. Trees are among the largest of standard root varieties, with a strong branching structure; the wood is brownish-red and the leaves are large, shiny, and dark green. It grows best in moderate, damp, loamy soil with minimal soil drying during the summer months. Locations close to watercourses and edges of ponds are preferred. Gravensteins will not thrive in areas of high groundwater and require moderate protection against wind. The plant is a triploid variety. It requires pollination from another variety, but will not itself return the favour.
"It has often been said that if the Gravenstein could be had throughout the year, no other apple need be grown." In Canada it is widely grown on both coasts, although more in old farmstead orchards and backyards than in commercial orchards.
You haven't tasted apple pie until you've had a gravenstein one. Cinnamon instead of nutmeg for me and a scoop of the best vanilla bean ice cream will send me into a tailspin. If I close my eyes I can smell it, coming out of the oven and filling the room with its tantalizing aroma. No matter how careful I am with my diabetes, I would not be able to resist a slice of pie with this magnificent apple, I'd crawl naked over glass for a sliver. Wouldn't you?