In November, local heirloom apple varieties grace our produce shelves reminding us that while our market offers apples year-round, Mama Nature doesn't. We catch them as they come, and savor their unique markings, tastes, and textures for a short duration.
Out of the estimated 14,000 that evolved from the seeds the English brought to North America, only 11 varieties constitute 90 percent of all the apples consumed in the United States. The remaining 10 percent, all heirlooms, are slowly appearing in groceries and farmers markets.
Because heirloom apples can't be shipped and stored as easily as more familiar cultivars, we know them regionally. In Northern California we have different varieties on our tables and lunch boxes than the Southern U.S. A small number of determined apple growers are out there saving seeds and perpetuating varieties of apples that would otherwise be lost to to us. In local counties, many orchards have been replaced with the more profitable grape vine.
November means regional apple season is in full swing. And with all of these varieties, keep your eyes peeled as they come and go quickly from our shelves.
The Gravenstein, an early-season apple originally planted by Russian trappers, was once filled Bay Area and Sonoma County orchards. They have a distinct spicy-sweetness that just can't be duplicated commercially. Gravensteins are as good fresh as they are cooked. They have a great flavor and texture but also hold their shape in pies and fillings. They are a popular juice and applesauce apple because they have a balanced sweet and tart flavor.
As an Arkansas Black ripens, the skin takes on a uniquely dark color that contrasts gorgeously against the white flesh. They originated in Benton County, Arkansas around 1860, probably from the seed of a Winesap. Arkansas Blacks make great eating apples with a wonderful depth of flavor. They start out tart and crisp, and mellow considerably as the season progresses.
The Orange Pippin is rumored to be one of Thomas Jefferson's favorites. Originally from England, it was first planted in the U.S. in New York state in the 19th century. It has exceptional flavor, and is eaten both fresh and cooked in recipes.
Spitzenberg has a truly aromatic and complex flavor. Eating a Spitzenberg is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The flesh is a buttery dense yellow, and there is a rich sharpness which is often characteristic of high quality dessert apples. A late-season apple, it is particularly good for baking pies. It also makes delicious cider.
Order Your Holiday Diestel Turkeys
More meat, less fat, great flavor. Really, the best choice for your holiday table.
It's not too early to plan for the holidays, and order your Turkey.
Diestel Turkey is consistently fresh, tender and juicy with that old-fashioned turkey flavor that you can really taste. Range-grown in the clean Sierra Foothills with high standards of care and fed a wholesome, diet, Diestel turkeys are sustainably farmed with a focus on providing the best outcome for both our human and natural environments.
Please call our butcher department at (510) 653-8181.
We love Stonewall Kitchen's sense of integrity and community. But mostly we love their fresh and wholesome products because they taste like nothing else. The jams, condiments and chutneys are superlative. (And we carry a lot of their products.) Just try their mulling spices or rubs.
And if you want to simplify your holiday preparations, pick out a few of their baking mixes. You can't go wrong with the Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread, the Gingerbread Cookie mix or Peppermint Bark Brownie mix. Stroll our isles and dream up your menus. There is so much to choose from.
The Piedmont Turkey Trot is a 3 mile run/walk through the streets of Piedmont. It begins at 8:30 AM on Thanksgiving morning, Thursday November 22nd at Piedmont High School, and benefits the Piedmont High Cross Country and Track Teams.
Commemorative long-sleeve, technical T shirts will be given to the first 1500 registered participants. Chip timing will allow participants to record their actual time. And ribbons and prizes will be awarded to the top 3 finishers in the multiple categories. Read more...