Slow Food's got your back and has published this 16pp guide to preserving heirloom apple varieties.
Apples are endangered?Don't know if the Wandering Aengus folks visit here, but we'd love to read something about the history of apple orchards here and the current state of heirloom varieties locally. The history's not likely as rich or long as that of local prunes and cherries, but surely there is a history. If you've got a thing for 19th and early 20th century Willamette Valley apple orchards, whether eating or cider apples, we'd love a guest post! Do apple trees live a century? Are there any old orchards around?
It’s true—those brightly polished rows of fruit stacked year-round in your grocery store are under threat of extinction and not in the way you would think. Apples as a species are well established, but the majority of known apple varieties are desperately close to extinction, being grown in fewer than three orchards. Just a century ago, there were over 15,000 distinct apple varieties grown on U.S. soil. Today, only 11 varieties regularly appear on supermarket shelves. Red Delicious alone accounts for 41% of all apples grown and eaten in the U.S.
Interestingly, the pamphlet contains a section on a Sonoma Valley Gravenstein project:
The delicate late-summer Gravenstein apple, first planted in Sonoma County, California in 1820 by Russian trappers once filled Bay area orchards, only to be pushed out of the marketplace by sturdier apple varieties that ship better and last longer. Add to that suburban development, the conversion of apple orchards to vineyards, and overall decreased apple production—the Gravenstein was soon in trouble. In 1958, 5,449 acres of Gravensteins flourished in the U.S. Just fifty years later, production plummeted to fewer than 900 acres. Determined to reverse that trend, Slow Food Russian River leads a project to build awareness about the Gravenstein apple and support Gravenstein farmers.Gravensteins seem like they might be more popular here and in less danger. Anyone know?