Thursday, December 26, 2013

Zabergau Reinette *

The shape and size of this unusual and pretty apple varies considerably, but all are a cheerful spring green dominated by copper-colored russet so metallic it shimmers, no place more so than in the many large lenticels.

The example shown is quite large and very oblate. There were many such; I picked this one to show the slight blush, which was less typical. (Or perhaps it's a sunburn.)

My other unblushed sample (photo below) is smaller and more classically shaped, also representative. Both are a little ribbed and have a faint grassy aroma. Both are rock hard in early October.

Inside, fine-grained white flesh tinted green is crisp and moderately dense, with both crunch and chew. Zabergau's flavors are tentative and delicate, balanced and with the merest hints of kiwi and lime. There is a little astringent feel during the chew, too.

I'd call this apple tart were the flavors stronger.

If you want a full-flavored apple, Zabergau is not for you. But its texture is good and its unusual subtlety is interesting in its own right.

The United Kingdom's National Fruit Collection says Zabergau was raised from seed (that's the "Reinette" part, by the way, nothing to do with princesses) in Germany from 1885.

An oddity: Some of the flesh torn with my teeth browned almost immediately while other more "cleaved" surfaces remained clear.

Note that some other reviewers find more to this apple than I.

Orange Pippin says this apple "tastes of nettles when straight from the tree," which raises the question: You eat nettles?


  1. Where did you obtain information on the word "Reinette"? Raised from seed would be "Sämmling" in German. Just like Pippin and Seedling is in English. Reinette derives from Spanish "Reina" meaning queen and is used to group apples typically of good flavour, late keeping and often with small amounts of russeting, though the classification is not always so strict... The apple "King of the Pippins" is not precisely translated from Reine des Reinettes. This is described in "The New Book of Apples" by Joan Morgan and Alison Richards p. 258 and also I have read about this in a Danish pomological work from 1940.

    1. Most of my research into the meaning of "Reinette" is summed up in this post.

      I agree the record is uncertain. However, in terms of that discussion, I do not see how this apple qualifies as "rich" flavored (per Deil), and I think the French meaning is pertinent.

      Subject to revision at any time of course! I admit I have not read Morgan and Richards.

    2. Sorry, had not seen your discussion/posting on "Reinette". I think we can agree that the origins of the word is unclear. However it has been used to describe this class of apples like Diel suggested, which are generally of rich and great flavour as well as being good keepers with more or less russeting - wether Zabergäu Reinette fits this category is of course discussable - but using the name would be a quality seal, so maybe some apple breeders or nurseries have used this term too freely to promote their varieties.
      So in my opinion the term should be used to describe to which group of apples it belongs. Not that it was raised from seed, traditionally (except from sports/mutations and GMO) all new varieties have been, so makes no sense to add this to the name.

    3. It makes sense that once "Reinette" became synonymous with "quality" that breeders would use the term promiscuously. Many old American varieties boast bombastic names, such as "Seek No further" etc. And the "quality" sense of "Reinette" may have been best established in Germany, home of the Zabergau.

      As I said in my "Reinette" post, I find the qualitative use of Reinette appealing. There's good reason to suppose it the breeder of this apple was chasing that sense of the word.

      However isn't it a relatively modern usage? Some Reinettes are older than that.

      Such a great wealth of stories about apples and their names.

  2. Zabergäu Renette (as I've read it in German texts) seems to be widely effected by soil and climate, for I have read some people find it disappointing and others, in differing circumstances, find it one of the tastiest apples they know. May I recommend you try it grown in another part of the nation and see how it turns out. I have yet to taste ZR and hope to graft it into a nearby orchard next year and see how it does in the high and dry of eastern Washington state.
    A case in point: people rave about Roxbury Russet, but the only sample I tasted must have been picked too soon or not allowed to sweeten in storage, or both. I'll try it again somewhere else someday.

  3. Jumping in very late here but this apple does produce a very rich juice. I'm tasting some right this moment. Perhaps the reference to it's richness is to the juice or the terroir yours was grown in had an unfavorable effect.

    1. Dave, thanks! When others tell me an apple is good, I assume they are right. Every apple has its off days, some are more erratic than others.

      I really will sample this one again soon.

    2. P.S. Dave, there's no such thing as "very late" here. This is a seasonal blog and what goes around comes back around at harvest time.

      So thank you!

  4. My apple grower told me this was a very tart apple. I was surprised at how sweet and complex it was. I think the description "rich" is accurate. My Zavergäu was grown on the rainy side of the Cascade Mountains, so maybe climate makes difference. My only disappointment is that at least in late-November, it wasn't crisp.


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