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Knobby Russet Apples
Inventory, lb : 0
Knobby Russet apples are small to medium-sized fruits with a conic to round shape, often masked by an unusual surface texture. The fruit’s yellow-green skin is covered in bumps, warts, ribbing, and knobs, giving the apple an asymmetrical appearance. The surface is also enveloped in rough, grey-black russeting, red-orange blush spots, and raised lenticels. Underneath the mottled skin, the flesh is ivory to pale yellow, fine-grained, dry, and dense, encasing a small central core filled with black-brown, oval seeds. Knobby Russet apples have a complex but subtle flavor, consisting of a balanced, sweet-tart taste with notes of citrus, spice, and nuts.
Knobby Russet apples are available in the mid-fall through the late winter.
Knobby Russet apples, botanically classified as Malus domestica, are a rare English variety belonging to the Rosaceae family. The odd-looking fruits were discovered in the early 19th century and were initially favored for their extended storage capabilities, as many homes during this time did not have cold storage to preserve fresh fruits. Knobby Russet apples were grown as a garden variety for many years but were never commercially cultivated due to their irregular appearance. The variety almost went extinct in the mid-20th century due to increased production of newer, more aesthetically pleasing apples, but the heirloom variety was saved by apple enthusiasts as a specialty cultivar. Knobby Russet apples are also known as Knobbed Russet apples and Winter Russet apples, and the fruit’s outward appearance is said to be a stark contrast to its complex, pleasant taste and fine-grained texture, primarily consumed fresh or pressed for cider.
Knobby Russet apples are a good source of vitamin C to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation and provide high levels of fiber to regulate the digestive tract. The apples also contain small amounts of calcium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, and vitamin A.
Knobby Russet apples are best suited for fresh preparations as their complex flavor is showcased when consumed straight, out-of-hand. The russeted skin is edible, and the flesh does not brown quickly, allowing it to be sliced and eaten as a snack, chopped and tossed into salads, or quartered and displayed on fruit platters. Knobby Russet apples were also traditionally used for cider making. The apple’s sweet-tart juice blends well with other apple varieties creating a multifaceted flavor profile. In Sherborn, Massachusetts, Stormalong Ciders has developed a modern cider sampler pack made from rare heirloom varieties. Knobby Russet apples are featured in their ashmead’s kernel cider, a small batch cider, and the apples are grown through small farms in New England. Beyond fresh preparations and ciders, Knobby Russet apples can also be cooked into applesauce and used as a filler variety in some baked goods such as pies or tarts. Knobby Russet apples pair well with sharp cheeses such as cheddar, blue, and asiago, herbs such as parsley, rosemary, and tarragon, spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, vanilla, and chocolate. Whole, unwashed Knobby Russet apples will keep for 1 to 3 months when stored lightly wrapped in plastic in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Knobby Russet apples are featured in the National Collection of Sussex Apples, a grouping of heirloom apples grown through select orchards in Stanmer Park, England. The collection was established in the early 21st century, managed by the Brighton Permaculture Trust, and was created to preserve and rediscover diverse apple varieties growing in the United Kingdom. The collection features over thirty different cultivars, including Knobby Russets, and is viewed as a “living library” used to educate apple enthusiasts on the importance of heirloom apple varieties. Many researchers, horticulturalists, and historians also use the collection to study the history of apples to improve future breeding practices to create new cultivars.
Knobby Russet apples were first discovered in Sussex, England, in 1819. The parentage of the variety is unknown, but the cultivar was first documented by the London Horticultural Society in 1820 when they were donated by a man named Haslar Capron from Midhurst, Sussex. Once introduced to growers, the variety was favored in the 19th century for its extended storage capabilities, but the russet apples quickly fell out of favor when new varieties with improved appearances arrived at the market. Today Knobby Russet apples are considered to be very rare and are only grown through a small number of specialty farms. The apples can still be seen through orchards in Stanmer Park in Brighton, Sussex, and they are also found in the New England area of the United States and in Vancouver, Canada.
Recipes that include Knobby Russet Apples. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Chatelaine||Tarragon, Grilled Fennel and Apple Salad|
|Woman's Day||Apple, Sweet Potato, and Rosemary Flatbread|