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Pestle apples are small to medium-sized fruits with a round to conical, slightly flattened shape. The skin is faintly ribbed, smooth, thin, and covered in natural wax. The base coloring of the apple is yellow-green, and as the fruit matures, it may develop dark red and pink blush with spots of vertical striping, sometimes entirely covering the surface. Underneath the skin, the flesh bears a pink tinge just below the surface, and the remaining flesh ranges from white to ivory. The flesh is also crisp, aqueous, and aromatic, encasing a central core filled with oval, dark brown seeds. Pestle apples have a sweet, fruity, and honeyed flavor balanced with tangy, subtly sour undertones.
Pestle apples are available in the summer through early fall.
Pestle apples, botanically classified as Malus domestica, are an ancient Russian variety belonging to the Rosaceae family. The fragrant fruits are an early-season cultivar, maturing in the summer, and were first discovered growing in Russia in the 18th century. Pestle apples are not commercially cultivated on a large scale and are primarily grown in home gardens. The trees can reach up to 7 meters in height and are highly favored by farmers for their frost tolerance, fast-growing nature, and productivity. One Pestle apple tree can produce over 150 kilograms of fruit in a single season. Pestle apples are known by many other names throughout Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia, including Pestrushka apples, Grushovka Moscow, Skorospelka, Spasovka, and Grushovka Red apples. The sweet fruits are consumed fresh and are also favored for juices, jams, and baked goods.
Pestle apples are an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that strengthens the immune system, reduces inflammation, and boosts collagen production within the skin. The fruits are also a good source of fiber to regulate the digestive tract and provide minerals, including potassium, calcium, iron, and phosphorus.
Pestle apples are best suited for fresh applications as their sweet flavor is showcased when consumed straight, out-of-hand. The apples have thin, edible skin and crisp flesh that can be eaten as a snack, sliced and tossed into green salads, or chopped and mixed into fruit bowls. The apples can also be pressed into juice, blended into smoothies, or served with sweet dips on appetizer plates. In addition to fresh applications, Pestle apples can be utilized in some baked preparations, including pies, cakes, muffins, bread, and tarts, pureed and simmered into applesauce, or cooked into marmalades, jams, jellies, and preserves. Once cooked into a jam, the spread is traditionally served with baked goods or layered over roasted meats. Pestle apples pair well with fruits such as apricots, mango, orange, and cranberries, spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice, ginger, meats such as poultry, turkey, and pork, and herbs such as parsley, rosemary, and sage. Whole, unwashed Pestle apples will keep 2 to 3 weeks when stored in a cold and dark place away from direct sunlight.
In Russia, Pestle apples are a common apple variety blessed during the Apple Savior Festival, also known as the Apple Feast of the Saviour or Apple Spas. The Eastern Slavic celebration marks the arrival of fall, and the first apples gathered from home gardens and orchards are given to priests to bless in the church. This fruit blessing tradition dates back to the 8th century, and apple consumption before the Apple Savior Festival was often considered a sin. Once the apples are blessed during the festival, they are consumed, and it is believed that the first bite of the fruit helps make a wish come true. Pestle apples are an early-season variety and their harvest period frequently coincides with the Apple Savior Festival, making them a popular variety during the celebration. The blessed apples are traditionally consumed fresh, but festival participants also spend the day making apple pies, cakes, strudels, and tarts. Apples are also frequently baked with honey or sugar and consumed as a sweet dessert.
Pestle apples were created from natural selection and are native to the central regions of Russia. The cultivar was first discovered in the mid-18th century, and as it rose in popularity, the apple spread across Russia into Central Asia, favored by home gardeners for its frost tolerance. The first recorded description of Pestle apples was in a gardening journal by biologist Andrey Bolotov, and in the 19th century, the variety was introduced to Canada and the United States. Today Pestle apples are found through small farms and in home gardens in Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and North America.
Recipes that include Pestle Apples. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Cookie and Kate||Apple Salad with Cranberries and Pepitas|
|Food Network||Apple Cake|
|Sally's Baking Addiction||Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars|
|All Recipes||Apple Crisp|
|Well Plated||Apple Smoothie|
|The Nutrition Adventure||Prosciutto Wrapped Apple Bites|