Know Your Apples: A Guide to NY State Apples and a Brief History of this Gem of a Fruit

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The apple is the jewel of NY State and for good reason. We are the second-largest apple producing state in the country, averaging 29.5 million bushels of apples per year on 55,000 acres (yes, all 50 states do produce apples, although only 36 states produce the fruit commercially.) People may think of New York City and Wall Street first when they hear of NY State, but in the other 54,252 square miles of NY, apple country dominates – creating 10,000 direct agricultural jobs and more than 7,500 indirect jobs (Ever wonder why NYC is just the “Big” Apple? this is why…)

Today I’m giving you the low-down on the top 10 types of apples grown and sold in NY State so you can take pride in being an expert on one of the highlights of NY culture, but first, let me lay out a few facts and a brief history of the apple.

Apples aren’t just a big deal in the US; they are a world-wide fruit favorite. Presently, 7,500 varieties are grown around the world, with China dominating 40% of the industry. The US is the second largest producer of apples; we grow 2,500 varieties – but only 100 of those are grown commercially – to make over 5 million tons of apples. In 2010, genomicists found that the apple contains 57,000 genes, more than any other plant genome studied thus far and more than the human genome (30,000). This allows for a huge amount of diversity in apple breeding, with varieties made to be perfect for cider, baking, cooking, and raw apples.

Despite our obsession as Americans with all things apple (as cider, pie, crisp, butter, jam, jelly), the fruit is not of North American origin. The first apple tree bloomed in Central Asia and quickly spread across the rest of Asia and Europe to become a dietary staple for millennia. Apples were so important that they were in fact fruit of the gods; in Norse mythology the gods sourced their immortality from apples, in Greek mythology the apple was a symbol of Aphrodite (the goddess of love and beauty) and to throw an apple at someone was a declaration of love, and in both Greek and Christian lore the apple was a symbol of life and knowledge.

Thanks to Reverend William Baxton, who in 1625 cultivated the first American apple orchard, we now enjoy local, home-grown apples. In NY state, the varieties below are the ones you absolutely should know.

 

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McIntosh

Sweet, Juicy, White Flesh, Red & White Skin, All-Purpose (cooking & eating)

Named after John McIntosh who discovered the seed in 1811

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Empire

A Hybrid of Red Delicious and McIntosh developed at Cornell in the 1940s

Red, Sweet & Tart, Juicy, Crisp White Flesh, Doesn’t Bruise Easily, the “Lunch-Box” Apple

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Red Delicious

Sweet, Juicy, Yellow Flesh

Created in 1880, Represented 3/4 of Washington State Apple Production in the 1980s

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Cortland

Sweet but a Little Tartness, Juicy, Tender White Flesh, Good for Dessert

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Golden Delicous

Honey-sweet, Light Yellow Flesh, Bruises and Shrivels Easily, Great for Apple Sauce

Not Related to Red Delicious

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Rome

Mildly Tart, Greenish Flesh, Firm, Best for Baking

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Idared

The Classic Baking Apple, Holds Shape Well,  Makes a Pink-ish Apple Sauce

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Crispin

Originally Called Mutsu, From Japan, Renamed in the ’60s

Lightly Sweet, Super Crisp, Favorite for Roasting

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Jonamac

Hybrid of McIntosh and Jonathan, Sweether Than Jonathan

Slight Taste of Honey, Hint of Spiced Cider

 

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Paula Red

Tart, Needs Only a Little Sugar When Baking

 

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Gala

From New Zealand, Mild Not Too Sweet/Tart Flavor, Yellow Flesh

To learn more about all varieties of apples grown and sold in NY State, check out this page.

 

Sources:

NY State Apples Image: http://www.nyapplecountry.com

Apple Images – Public Domain

Rome Apple Image: http://www.nyapplecountry.com

http://www.nyapplecountry.com

http://www.yara.us/agriculture/crops/apple/key-facts/world-apple-production/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple

 

Author: Jackie Ibragimov

Where Do We Get Our Local Food From?

The University of Rochester prides itself on providing students with healthy and nutritious local food. At the moment, 56% of food products on campus are locally sourced. This includes the vegetables and fruits we serve at salad bars and in cooked meals, some of our healthiest snacks in Hillside and the Pit, and milk served in coffee beverages.

56% might not sound like a lot, but with the amount of students and faculty we have to feed and caffeinate on campus, it’s pretty darn awesome that we can source a majority of food from small, family-owned local farms.

Why does this even matter though? Well, instead of sending our UofR big bucks to Big Agriculture for food that is often covered in pesticides and meat that is filled with antibiotics, the University is financially supporting farmers and distributors in New York State. Moreover, we try to focus on getting food from UPSTATE New York, meaning our eating needs as students directly go towards supporting a stronger local economy. These products also have lower to no pesticides and no antibiotics because local farms are also often homes. Would farmers want to live on a CAFO (disgusting animal farm often affiliated with “manure lagoons”) or on a field of toxic chemicals?

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Source: farmsnotfactories.org

vs.

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Source: cricketcreekfarm.com

So, where do we get all of this food from? How can we organize something so intricate and complex, while dealing with the other thousand and one issues Dining constantly has to manage? Do we directly communicate with all of our local vendors? No, that would be insanely time consuming.

Instead, we use Headwater Food Hub, a company that I believe to be innovating the way local farmers work.

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Source: Twitter @liv_rotondo

Headwater Food Hub is basically a consultant for local farmers. Partner farms trust Headwater with the management of their “supply chain logistics, aggregation, distribution, and sales”. In other words, Headwater acts as a middleman for these farmers, letting them focus on the task of producing high quality, nutritious and tasty food, while managing the logistics of supplying restaurants, schools, businesses, and grocery stores.

Another facet of Headwater Food to keep in mind as for those living off campus is the Good Food Collective, a subsection of Headwater that focuses on supplying local food directly to you, the individual.

How does it work? You buy a share (priced out at sometimes lower than grocery store costs) of food for the amount of people you need to feed (either yourself, or a family, or maybe just you and your roommate). Every week or two weeks (depending on the share you choose), you go to a conveniently located distribution center, where you pick up a basket of goods. If you live in certain zip codes, you can even have it delivered directly to your home. AND! if you take this info with you to your boss in the Rochester/Finger Lakes/New York City region maybe you can even set up workplace shares, and everyone could pick up their basket of goods at work. Shares are catered to season and sometimes even Holidays (Thanksgiving shares are up right now!!!).

To find out more about shares, check out this page. (P.S. You can even get shares of locally roasted coffee…)

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Hurd Orchards // Source: thegoodfoodcollective.com

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First Light Creamery // Source: thegoodfoodcollective.com

Happy Eating!

 

Author: Jackie Ibragimov