Friday, August 12, 2011

Celebrating endangered Gravenstein

This weekend will mark the annual Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastepol, California.

But, the LA Times reports, Gravenstein trees in Sonoma County, California are falling prey to developers and more-profitable grapes.

The 20 square miles of Gravensteins that once covered the local hills are now reduced to one, and the remaining trees also would have succumbed to chain saws were it not for the matchless flavor of their fruits and the determination of a small band of farmers and preservationists.

Gravenstein, including Red Gravenstein, a sport, is my favorite August variety, a balanced crisp heirloom apple with complex flavors that foreshadow those of the Macouns to come.

The Russian River Chapter of Slow Food USA (part of the "small band" of the LA Times story) has undertaken to save the Gravenstein by working with area farmers and promoting the fruit's qualities to the public.

The group says it has even recruited Bay Area restaurants "to feature Gravenstein apples on their menus for the month of August." Grav chic!

Slow Food also has this web page about the apple and its preservation project.

With the help of groups like Slow Food (whose list of heirloom apples I have previously described), interest in heirlooms is growing. Wonderful old Gravenstein certainly deserves a place on the ark.

Update: The New York Times has published a similar story.

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