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Rosemary apples are large fruits that are somewhat irregular in appearance, ranging from conical, ovate, to round in shape. The skin is thin, ripening from green to yellow-green, and is smooth, waxy, and slightly oily. Depending on the variety and growth conditions, the skin may also bear light pink-red blushing and prominent brown spots. Underneath the surface, the flesh is pale green to white, crisp, dense, and aromatic, encasing a central cavity filled with black-brown seeds. Rosemary apples are crunchy and are known for their sweet and subtly acidic taste.
Rosemary apples are available in the fall through winter and can be stored through the early spring.
Rosemary apples, botanically classified as Malus domestica, are a Russian variety that belongs to the Rosaceae family. The sweet-tart cultivar was first discovered in the late 20th century in central Russia and was believed to have been developed from the famous antonovka apple. Rosemary apples are considered to be one of the most popular dessert varieties in Russia and are widely cultivated throughout the country for fresh eating and pickling. There are two subspecies known as Rosemary Russian and Rosemary White apples that are generally labeled under the Rosemary name in local markets, and home gardeners highly favor the apples for their extended storage capabilities, resistance to disease, high yields, and cold tolerance.
Rosemary apples are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that can increase collagen production within the body and boost the immune system. The apples also provide fiber, which can help regulate digestion, and contain potassium, iron, vitamins E and K, and manganese.
Rosemary apples are best suited for raw applications as their sweet-tart flavor is showcased when consumed fresh, out-of-hand. The cultivar is regarded as a popular dessert variety in Russia and is sliced and tossed into fruit bowls, chopped into green salads, blended into smoothies, or pressed into juices and ciders. The apples are also quartered and displayed on appetizer plates with cheeses, nuts, and dips, kept whole and covered in candy coatings as a sweet dessert, dried for extended use, or sliced and used as topping over ice cream, cereals, yogurts, and cakes. In addition to raw applications, some home chefs prefer Rosemary apples for cooked applications such as stewing, roasting, and baking. The apples can be chopped and minced into dumplings, cooked into jams, and marmalades, stewed with meats and other vegetables, or pureed into sauces. Rosemary apples pair well with spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, meats such as poultry, pork, beef, and fish, vanilla, caramel, turnips, carrots, potatoes, pumpkins, lemon juice, raisins, and cherries. The fresh fruits will keep 2-4 months when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Throughout Russia, Rosemary apples are a favored home garden variety as the very large trees are considered highly ornamental when in bloom and provide an abundant apple harvest. When Rosemary apples are in season, they are often displayed in large bowls on kitchen tables as a symbol of prestige, and during dinner parties, the fruits are offered as a fresh dessert. The yellow-green fruits are also popularly pickled and preserved for consumption throughout the harsh winter season. Brined or pickled apples retain many beneficial nutrients such as vitamin C and calcium, and the act of pickling fresh produce in Russia has been practiced since ancient times. Russian brined apples provide a tangy-sweet taste, and the apples can be fermented in many different spices and herbs to create varying flavors. Brined apples are most commonly fermented in sugar, honey, cherry leaves, blackcurrant leaves, cinnamon, and cardamom for added flavor, and some home chefs even ferment the fruits in large oak barrels topped with rye and straw, which is the method their ancestors used hundreds of years ago, to obtain a more traditional taste.
Rosemary apples are native to Russia and were first cultivated in the 1990s. While the exact origins of the apples are unknown, the variety was believed to have been created from a natural cross or a spontaneous mutation of the antonovka cultivar in Central Russia. Rosemary apples quickly spread in popularity across Russia as the trees were very cold tolerant, and today the fruits can also be found in Belarus, Central Asia, Ukraine, and Georgia. The apples featured in the photograph above were discovered at a weekend food fair in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Dimitri, the grower of the variety, is an ethnic Russian who remained in Kazakhstan after the collapse of the USSR. His family has been growing many varieties of apples for generations in the foothills of the Ile Alatau mountains, and he sells the fruits weekly at local markets.
Recipes that include Rosemary Apples. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Russian Beyond||Apple Jam|