Saturday, January 20, 2007

Twice the Terroir - Part Two

Yesterday was for truffles, but this part is for a favorite local food item - the Gravenstein Apple. Anna of Anna's Cool Finds is hosting an event, A Taste of Terroir, and these apples are very much a part of the place where I've lived for 20 years.

One of the great things about living close to the small rural town of Sebastopol in northern California is that twice a year they celebrate our local product, the Gravenstein Apple.

In the spring there is the Apple Blossom Parade and Festival which has been held yearly, almost without a break, since near the turn of the twentieth century. The parade is quintessential small town. Folks place blankets and chairs along the parade route down Main Street early in the morning and those items are still in place around 10 a.m. when they close down Main Street through town and the Parade starts. The Parade itself has marching bands from local elementary and high schools, preschoolers on tricycles, Scout troops, Little League, tap dancers and more. It's hard to find a child over the age of 5 who isn't going to be in the Parade in some capacity.

In mid August when the very perishable Gravenstein apples are ripe, a Gravenstein Apple Fair is held at the county park on the west side of town. The Community Church bakes hundreds of their famous Gravenstein apple pies, local apple ranchers sell boxes of apples, there are booths, an art show, live music, beekeeper demonstrations, wine and beer tasting and much more. This area used to be one of the largest producers of Gravenstein apples in the U.S. Now wine grapes have edged out the apples, but there are still enough grown that in late summer and early fall you can buy them in quantity. They are wonderful eaten out of hand, with the sweet-tart juices running down your fingers after you bite into the crisp pale flesh. Gravensteins have distinctive look with a base color of apple green liberally striped with red streaks. They make great pies, cobblers, and cookies when fresh.

When we moved here I was thrilled to see that we had a few old apple trees on the property. I didn't know what kind they were, but I gathered them in late August and stored them in the cellar, thinking that it would be great during the winter to go down and take out a few for a pie or eating out of hand. Imagine my dismay when I tried to use some for a Thanksgiving pie and discovered that they had all turned brown and mushy. A neighbor just laughed and said that they were obviously Gravenstein, which don't store well. Although they make great apple pies when fresh, they make exceptional apple sauce for year round enjoyment.

Now the trees are mostly gone, but I can buy Gravenstein apple sauce at Trader Joe's any time. The apples are juicy and sweet tart. The apple sauce is unsweetened, which is perfect. It makes a nice addition to my morning oatmeal and raisins. Maybe in late Auguest I'll make a pie from some of our remaining apples and take a photo for the blog. In the meantime, apple sauce will fine.

Oatmeal with Raisins and Apple Sauce
1/3 cup Quaker Quick - 1 minute - rolled oats
2/3 cups water
1-2 tablespoons raisins
1/4 cup milk or soy milk or half and half
1/4 cup unsweetened Gravenstein apple sauce (I use Trader Joe's)

In a microwave safe bowl combine the oats, water and raisins. Microwave on high for one minute. Stir. Microwave on high one more minute. (Microwave ovens vary. These times work for me, but try yours to see if your oven needs different times to cook.)
Let cool slightly, then pour on milk and mound some apple sauce on top. Eat while oatmeal is warm and apple sauce is cool. Serves 1.


  1. I love local foods! I live in the Tampa area of Florida. There is a place nearby called Plant City. They are knows for their Strawberries. "Strawberry Season" is just starting down here because they are now harvesting. In early March they will hold their annual Strawberry Festival which deals with all things strawberry. There is always a make your own strawberry shortcake tent which is alot of fun.

  2. Rachel, Mmmmm, fresh strawberries. The baked ones with chocolate on your blog are tempting, even though I'm attempting to lose a few post-holiday pounds. Maybe in April when we get our local berries.

  3. Anonymous8:30 PM

    Just googling around for gravensteins and saw this post--Did you know that the Trader Joe's applesauce you're eating is made right up the road in Graton?

  4. Anonymous8:47 PM

    Hi saw your post about Granvensteins. I grew up with this marvelous apple on a very small farm in Oregon. I'm 59 now and was surprised to learn that you can only find this apple on the west coast. I brought a tree from a nursery in Oregon to East TN a couple of years ago. It was accidently busted off at the graft this spring, so I took some cuttings to a local Amish farmer to graft into some root stock for me. I don't like them for pies, but fresh off the tree is great. You can't find better applesause anywhere