Monday, October 27, 2008

Pomme Gris (Pomme Grise) **

So why isn't it "Pomme Grise?"

A classic, the first of the russets that I usually see around here, Pomme Gris is good for eating or cider.

A small apple, firm in the hand, the Gray Apple is more of a rusty brown suede, with variegated colors--green streaks and a rosy orange blush--peeping shyly through the gauzy russet. Its shape is irregular and I'm not sure whether to say it has a little ribbing or none.

The flesh is a creamy yellow and tender, medium coarse.

This fruit has a pleasant rich flavor characteristic of russets generally: sweet and tart, with pear and cider notes and some sprightly acidity. It is further distinguished by a slight nuttiness and hints of citrus, vanilla, and, on the tip of the tongue, champagne. The general effect is refreshing and lively.

Vintage Virginia Apples says this one is also called "French Russet, Gray Apple, Grise, Leather Apple of Turic and Leather Coat."

Poverty Lane Orchards of New Hampshire, which grows Pomme Gris, said back in 2010, "Some pomologists link it to an old French variety, Reinette Grise; if true, this link brings us a taste of King Louis XIV's time." Other sources only trace the Gray Apple as far as the St. Laurence River Valley.


  1. I don't know why it's not Grise. Apple is la Pomme and the feminine form for grey is Grise, while Gris is the masculine. La langue Francais ce n'est pas toujour logique, n'est ce pas?

  2. Seems it is "Grise" sometimes. You'd think that would be right, especially given the apple's Francophone pedegree (whether it goes back to Louis IV or merely Quebec).

    So what gives? Linguistic Yankee imperialism, peut-etre?

  3. I tried this variety for the first time today at Gould Hill Farm in Hopkinton, NH and I think I'm in love. Don't be put off my it's unconventional look or smaller size. This is my new favorite fruit.

  4. Tyler, you are lucky! I'm still waiting for russets to show up where I live. Maybe I need to take a trip to New Hampshire.

  5. would this also be called a "grey pearmain"?

  6. Christine, I am not familiar with this variety, and people call their apples all different things in any case. But on balance it does not seem likely.

    True, Google finds several references for "Grey Pearmain" suggesting it may be the same apple as Pomme Gris (Grise). On closer inspection these all turn out to be the same reference, an email or chat-board message from Claude in Quebec:

    "Could this Grey Pearmain be the Pomme grise? Among its synonyms, there is Gray Apple and Reinette grise. Sometimes, the Reinettes' names are translated as Pearmains in English. The description you give could fit for Pomme grise."

    On the other hand, googling "Gray Pearmain", with an a, finds many more references, suggesting that "gray" is the correct spelling.

    Among those references, this striking photograph of three Gray Pearmain apples does not resemble Pomme Gris--there's very little russet, though that is not conclusive.

    However, this nursery sells scionwood for both varieties, which barring outright error suggests that Pomme Gris cannot be the same as Gray Pearmain.

    Still, errors are possible. One orchard suggests that Gray Pearmain may be Reinette Grise De La Creuse, which dates from about 1950 according to the UK National Fruit Collection. However, Gray Pearmain was known in Maine at least as early as 1885.

  7. Hmmm... There is a french nursery rhyme about pomme de reinette and the pomme d'api. one of the lines is "tappis, tappis, gris." (grey carpet) perhaps it alludes to the grey colored apples all over the ground?


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