Brothers Chris and Matt Vodraska take "an apple a day" to heart. As co-owners of Rittman Orchards in Doylestown, the duo produces 67 varieties that go beyond Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. With more than 20 kinds of apples available this month, here's our pick of the bushel.
Aptly named for its juicy sweet flavor and beautiful white flesh, this apple is resistant to browning. Developed by the University of Minnesota's breeding program, it is a great choice for lunchboxes and fruit salads. "It's a very pretty apple," says Matt. "It's red, but it has this kind of burnished look to it."
Named for Esopus, New York, it stores well, mellowing in flavor over time. "This variety was reported to be Thomas Jefferson's favorite," says Chris. Jefferson even grew these trees at Monticello. But if a presidential endorsement isn't enough to get you to bite, Esopus Spitzenburg bakes up nicely, and with a sweet-tart taste, makesa great snack.
CALVILLE BLANC D'HIVER
For a truly authentic tarte tatin, Calville Blanc reigns. "It's a very old French apple," says Chris. "It's very popular in upscale restaurants for tarts and different French pastries." The blush-colored, lobed fruit is also a great dessert apple, which in the industry means an apple eaten out of hand.
Originating in the mid-1600s, the Roxbury Russet is reported as the first American apple. "Back then, when they were selecting apple varieties, it was because they either stored or made badass cider," says Matt. "This does both." It has a nutty, mildly tart flavor, making it a tasty treat.
A product of Cornell's apple breeding program in the '60s, NY 428 was slighted for its sibling, NY 429, now called Fortune. Still, some growers prefer the nameless 428 for its flavor. "It has a cleaner, fresher taste," says Matt, "but has those mellow notes like brown sugar that helps develop richness."
WHEN YOU GO
13548 Mount Eaton Road, Doylestown, 330-925-4152, rittmanorchards.com