Saturday, September 23, 2017

Antonovka Kamenichka *

A generous reader sent me today's Antonovka, along with some very fine Jonareds (sports of Jonathon) from his garden orchard. Thank you, Mark.

My squat, painterly Antonovka runs a mini rainbow from spring green to a faint peach, the latter a blush spread thinly over a peel that is largely yellow.

The small lenticels are hard to see except where filled with dark russet, and there is an odd glassy region on the side opposite the blush. Am I seeing watercore from the outside?

In any case, this apple is rock hard and has a sweet, almost floral, aroma. There is barely any ribbing, and the peel is a bit waxy. I've heard of Antonovka, highly regarded in Eastern Europe, and am excited to try it for the first time.

Okay. There is indeed a great deal of watercore, and while this is not unpleasant I am afraid it means I will not gain a very accurate sense of this apple.

The texture is still good, I would say fine-grained and a little dense, but not terribly crisp. The flesh is white, marbled with yellow isinglass by the watercore.

The apple is sweet and its flavors are delicate and well composed, including table grapes, caramel, melon, and a floral note.

I am sorry for the watercore, because it is putting a really nuanced assessment beyond my powers. I suspect this is a high-quality variety; even this sample gives the impression of great delicacy and poise.

The National Fruit Collection (UK), among other sources, traces Antonovka to Kursk, in Russia, in 1826.

A writer at Trees of Antiquity declares Antonovka to be "my favorite apple from an orchard of over 60 heirloom varieties." The same author adds, "The Antonovka is to Eastern Europe what Cox Orange Pippin is to England."

Indeed, consider the monument to the Antonovka in Kursk as an indication of the depth of local esteem for this fruit:

Photo with kind permission of Monuments Reveal

The sculpture stands 6 feet high.

To learn more about this monument, please visit Monuments Reveal.

Both Trees of Antiquity and Salt Spring Orchards say that this apple can be grown from seed—unlike most apples, which are heterozygous.

This is remarkable enough (really, it is), but Orange Pippin says Antonovka is not self-fertile, meaning each generation of Antonovka has a non-Antonovka pollen parent.

(And of course, Antonovka is used to breed apples that are not Antonovka. So really not sure what to make of this claim.)

Orange Pippin also notes that there is more than one Antonovka. The one I've got, Antonovka Kamenichka, originated in Ukraine and may be a sport of the Kursk variety. (And, it turn out, there's a bit more here.)

How do I know which Antonovka I've got? Well, the description matches that of the Ukrainian variety pretty well. But there's more evidence, too.

As I was poking about on Orange Pippin (always a good thing to do), I found that website's tree registry page for Antonovka Kamenichka (Can't link to it directly, but you can get to it by clicking from here.)

On that page was the gentleman who sent me the apple. So, well met, Mark; it's a small world after all.

Orange Pippin


  1. Your blog is so awesome, unique and wise! I am short of words. Thank you, dear Adam for your great work. Viola

    1. You are very kind, Viola. Thank you again for the use of your photograph.

      Viola is the mind and heart behind Monuments Reveal.


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