Jonathan Kauffman blogged in the SF Weekly about the Slow Food's Gravenstein Apple Promotion: Make a Pie, Save a Tree. Frank used to own an apple orchard in Sebastopol (Gravenstein, of course), and every time we drive through Western Sonoma County, he laments the loss of Gravenstein Apple Orchards to vineyards.
There really are no apples quite like Gravensteins. If you don't live in Northern California, you may not have had Gravensteins. They don't travel all that well. But if you do live here, now's the time to buy Gravensteins and preserve the heirloom/heritage varieties of foods that are disappearing from our markets. This year The Slow Food's Russian River chapter is launching a Gravenstein promotion to pay local farmers enough for their apples so they can afford to keep their trees.
The challenges faced by Gravensteins:
1) commercial viability --they're short stemmed so many fall to the ground and are used for applesauce, vinegar and juice. And, as I mentioned, they don't ship well.
2) no surprise here but apple trees aren't as profitable as grapevines.
So Frank and I are doing our bit. We've planted 9 Gravenstein apple trees in our yard in Berkeley. They're Sonoma county trees (planted in Alameda County), and they're doing well. This is our 7th harvest (lucky #7) and the trees are filled with apples. Yes, a lot fall to the ground, but Topper, our golden retriever, loves Gravensteins as much as we do, and he makes short shrift of the ground apples. In the past he used to shake the small trees and make the apples drop, but this year the trees are big and full, and he has plenty to occupy his time and fill his stomach.
CHOCOLATE GRAVENSTEIN APPLE PIE
Pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie, unbaked
8-10 tart Gravenstein apples (peeled, cored and sliced thinly)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup 70-85% dark chocolate fair-trade organic, broken into smallish pieces
1. Apples: peel, core, and slice thinly.
2. Combine the cinnamon & sugar = cinnamon sugar. (you may need a tiny bit more).
2. Place 1 layer of apple slices on the bottom crust. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar. Repeat twice.
3 Spread broken chocolate pieces over top.
4. Using remaining apples, make 3 more apple/cinnamon sugar layers.
5. Top with 2nd crust and seal edges. Make a cut on the top--or prick with fork in a few places.
6. Bake in preheated 450 F oven for 15 minutes (until golden).
7. Lower heat to 350F and continue baking for another 25-30 minutes, or until apples are tender.
I tweaked this recipe a bit. I posted it on Apple Pie Day, but I like more chocolate and using Gravensteins which are only available for a short time. It makes a difference. My apples are small, so I use more apples in the recipe.
Spread the word about Gravenstein Apples! Make a Pie, Save a Tree!!!