Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Winter Fruit: Pink Lady Apples

The irresistible Pink Lady apple is one of the high points of the winter produce season. Its fetching pink color and balanced tart- sweet juicy crispness makes it a perfect healthy snack for all occasions. My winter pantry always holds a basket of Pink Ladies which I replenish regularly during the winter months.

An Australian breeder, John Cripps, developed the Pink Lady in the early 1970's by crossing a Golden Delicious apple with a Lady Williams apple. By the late 1990's, growers in Washington and California had planted trees and began marketing the Pink Lady in the U.S. As the latest maturing of the commercial apple crops, it becomes available in October or November following the Granny Smith, Fuji, and Gala harvests.

My favorite Pink Lady apples are grown by the Cuyama Orchards, a 600 acre family run organic farm in California near Las Padres National Forest. Cuyama apples are a bit smaller, more deeply pigmented, and have a slightly more complex flavor than those of other growers. Several other California and Washington farms also produce excellent organic Pink Ladies. Select unbruised fruit and it will keep very well in a cool place for weeks.

Pink Ladies resist browning upon exposure to air; slice and wrap for snacks on the go. Kids may prefer to eat a slice or two of apple rather than an entire fruit; dip in some nut butter for serious hunger. Keep a few apples at your desk and a jar of nuts or seeds for a light meal at work; eat slowly and savor the beauty and flavor of one of nature's most delicious winter fast foods.