Sierra Beauty Apples
Inventory, lb : 10.00
Sierra Beauty apples are a medium to large varietal, averaging 6 to 10 centimeters in diameter, and have a slightly flattened, ovate shape with an angular, blocky appearance. The apple’s skin is semi-thick, matte, and smooth, covered in light brown russeting around the stem cavity and fruit shoulders. The skin also has a yellow-green base, showcasing pink, bright red, to crimson vertical striping and patches. Underneath the surface, the white to pale yellow flesh is fine-grained, firm, and aqueous with a crisp but tender consistency. Sierra Beauty apples emit a sweet, floral aroma and have a sweet, tart, and tangy flavor with subtle nuances of baking spices, flowers, and herbs. The apples are moderately sweet and more on the tart side when consumed fresh, and when cooked, the fruits mellow into a richer taste.
Sierra Beauty apples are available in the late fall.
Sierra Beauty apples, botanically classified as Malus domestica, are an American heirloom variety belonging to the Rosaceae family. This late-season apple was named after its place of origination, a chance seedling found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California, and is a very rare variety favored for its sweet-tart flavor. Sierra Beauty apples are among the few apple varieties that can be labeled as native to California. The apples were discovered in the late 19th century and almost disappeared completely before they were rediscovered and cultivated on a small scale through nurseries as a home garden variety. Sierra Beauty apples are vigorous but compact trees that reach 3 to 9 meters in height and are self-fertile, making them a favored choice for small gardens. The trees tend to produce heavy crops every other year, and the apple’s crisp, firm nature allows it to be used in various fresh and cooked preparations. Sierra Beauty apples are challenging to find and are only offered from a few growers in California. The variety is also available through nursery stock, but it is considered a specialty apple not used for commercial production.
Sierra Beauty apples are a source of fiber to regulate the digestive tract, potassium to balance fluid levels within the body, and vitamin C to strengthen the immune system while reducing inflammation. The apples also provide magnesium to control optimal nerve functioning, vitamin A to maintain healthy organs, vitamin E to protect the cells against free radical damage, calcium and phosphorus to build strong bones and teeth, and other amounts of zinc, copper, boron, and iron.
Sierra Beauty apples have a sweet and delicately spiced flavor well suited for fresh and cooked preparations. Fresh Sierra Beauty apples can be consumed straight, out of hand, and the apples will have a moderately sweet and sour taste. The raw apples can also be chopped into slaws, tossed into salads, served with cheeses on appetizer platters, or used as a topping over grain bowls, oatmeal, pancakes, and waffles. Try slicing and dipping Sierra Beauty apples into nut butter, chocolate, or caramel as a tangy snack. In addition to fresh preparations, Sierra Beauty apples hold their shape well when cooked and can be incorporated into pies, tarts, crumbles, cobblers, cookies, and other pastries. The apples can also be hollowed and stuffed as a savory-sweet dessert, battered and fried, or baked into muffins and bread. Beyond sweet dishes, Sierra Beauty apples complement savory ingredients and can be cooked into soups and stews, roasted with meat, or simmered into sauces, butter, chutney, and jams. The apples can also be blended into smoothies or pressed to flavor ciders, juices, and cocktails. Sierra Beauty apples pair well with herbs such as parsley, mint, and basil, nuts including walnuts, pecans, almonds, and pistachios, fennel, sweet potatoes, honey, vanilla, caramel, dark chocolate, meats such as poultry, pork, and turkey, and spices including cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom. Whole, unwashed Sierra Beauty apples will keep for 2 to 3 months when stored in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer.
Gowan’s orchards are considered the mother orchard of Sierra Beauty apples. While the orchard in Philo, California, is not the apple’s first discovery site, Sierra Beauty apples were thought to have been lost permanently until they were rediscovered at Gowan’s orchards. The Gowan family orchards were established during the mid-1800s, and Sierra Beauty apples were later planted in 1906. The family favored the apple variety for its sweet-tart flavor, often used in pies, cakes, and other baked goods. In the 1930s, the Gowan family began selling boxes of freshly picked apples alongside the road outside of their orchard. Drivers began anticipating the fresh fruit, increasing demand, which encouraged the Gowan family to construct a fruit stand known as Gowan’s Oak Tree. The fruit stand acquired this name from a large oak tree that stood tall above the stand. Over time, Sierra Beauty apples developed into a favorite variety at the fruit stand, nicknamed the “Gowan family heirloom.” Farm owner Jim Gowan began expanding his production of Sierra Beauty apples in the 1980s, with the goal to sell the variety to retailers in Northern California. At the same time, Sierra Beauty apples were rediscovered by searching enthusiasts at the Gowan orchard. The Gowan family started giving scion wood to researchers and nurseries to help preserve and expand the variety. In the present day, Gowan’s orchards still grow and sell Sierra Beauty apples through their farm stand. They also use the apples to make a specialty wine-style cider filled with wood-aged notes and spiced, fruity, and sweet nuances.
Sierra Beauty apples were first discovered in the 1870s, growing as a chance seedling in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California, about 30 miles east of Oroville. Several experts believe the apples were planted in this region by miners as they worked through the area during the California Gold Rush. In the 1890s, Sierra Beauty apples were offered as a specialty variety through Rancho Chico Nursery, the second oldest nursery in California. The nursery was also run by General John Bidwell, the founder of the town of Chico. The Rancho Chico Nursery was later acquired by the Oregon Nursery Company, nicknamed the “largest nursery in the west.” The Oregon Nursery Company featured Sierra Beauty apples in its catalog for two decades, but after World War l, the nursery went out of business, causing the Sierra Beauty apple to fade into obscurity. In 1970, pomologist Larry McGraw began searching for Sierra Beauty apples and ventured on several expeditions to the region surrounding Chico looking for Sierra Beauty apple trees. His trips were unsuccessful, but later, he discovered that the Gowan family in Philo, California, had been growing the variety since 1906. Today Sierra Beauty apples have been preserved through the Gowan family sharing scion wood with other nurseries to propagate the variety. Despite these collaborative efforts between growers and researchers to protect Sierra Beauty apples, the variety has remained rare and is grown through a few orchards in California. The variety is also sold through nurseries as a home garden tree for apple enthusiasts. When in season, Sierra Beauty apples are sold directly to customers through farm stands in California.
Recipes that include Sierra Beauty Apples. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Food & Wine||Apple Polenta Tart|
|Cookstr||Caramel Apple Upside-Down Cake|
|Figments||Grilled Opah with Shaved Apple and Fennel Salad|