Gravenstein Apple Season

August is Gravenstein apple season in California.  Gravenstein apples have been a popular apple here in Northern California for a long time.  They are excellent apples for making apple pie and apple sauce, because they have a balanced sweet-tart flavor, and they soften up when cooked. 

This is a picture of Gravenstein apples ripening on a small tree in our yard.  It’s interesting how red the apples are turning.  The apples on my mom’s Gravenstein apple tree are usually yellow with a bit of a red blush.  Hers rarely turn this red. There is a variety of apple tree called Red Gravenstein, but our tree was labeled as a regular Gravenstein.

Apple trees are not self-fertile.  At least two different varieties of apple trees need to be grown within about 100 feet of each other to achieve successful cross-pollination.  Apple trees may not bear apples without proper cross-pollination between two different types of apples.  Sometimes an apple tree that is not cross-pollinated produces very small apples or very few apples.

We also have a small Fuji apple tree and a small Granny Smith apple tree.  Why three apple trees? Gravenstein apple trees have sterile pollen, which means that a Graventstein will not pollenate the blossoms of another apple tree.  Without a third tree, the second tree would not get pollenated.  The second apple tree pollenates the Gravenstein and the third apple tree, and the third apple tree pollenates the second apple tree.  

Most apples ripen in the late summer or fall.  For example, Fuji and Granny Smith apples usually ripen in October into early November.  One of the great things about Gravenstein apples is that they ripen early, a month or two before most apples.  So we are harvesting apples in the summer and in the fall.

August 03 2008 02:13 pm | Apples