Monday, August 31, 2009

Pink Beauty

I’m harvesting my ‘Pink Pearl’ apples this week and next. I grafted scions onto a ‘Sierra Beauty’ apple three years ago and there is a bumper crop this year.

Back in 1980, nobody [except for a few rare fruit enthusiasts] had seen or tasted the special apple called ‘Pink Pearl’. It was introduced in 1944. It was developed by a California plant breeder, Albert Etter who lived in Ettersberg, Northern California. It has been said the ‘Pink Pearl’ was crossed with an apple named ‘Surprise’, a red-fleshed rather sour variety. Perhaps this latter apple was derived from a century old variety of red-fleshed Turkish crab apples.

The apple is easy to spot in the spring when tree is blooming. The photograph here shows how much pink the flowers display.

The skin of the fruit is a pale and dull yellowish-brown skin with a slight blush of pink barely showing through the skin. Typically the apple is a bit misshapen. However, the ‘Pink Pearl’ marbled with a pretty pink crisp interior, the flavor is sweetly-tart. Some say its taste is has overtones of lemon custard with a raspberry finish. The flesh is crisp, fine-grained and aromatic. Ripens at my coastal-influenced house in late August and early September.

I grafted onto a tree in the neighborhood in 1982. I harvested plenty of apples in 1985. Doug Gosling made the apple tart pictured here. Little did we know the heat would flush out the entire flesh from marbled pink to a hot, deep pink. This was probably the first time anybody cooked the fruit this way. A picture of the full tart is on the back of my book Designing & Maintaining Your Edible Landscape - Naturally. Sold on my web site.

Here’s a simple recipe:

Pink Pearl Apple Sauce

Pink Pearl apples, cored, peeled and sliced (Use about 2 pounds)

Apple juice



1-2 tablespoons butter

Fresh thyme (or lemon thyme)

Place apple slices in a heavy pot and pour in apple juice to reach halfway up the apples. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until apples are tender. Add the butter, any sugar, salt, or thyme to taste. I like chunky apple sauce. If you want a smoother apple sauce, use a hand blender.

Now some growers sell ‘Pink Pearl’ apples at local Farmer’s Markets in northern California.

You can purchase bare root tree of this cultivar from: Trees of Antiquity, 20 Wellsona Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446 phone: (805) 467-9909

Please post a comment - I want to know what you think.

Visit my web site to learn about my new book on drip irrigation and other gardening books.

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