Apples slowly recognizing winter is here

Even two and a half weeks since the beginning of a significant cold snap, the young apple trees look like they barely know it is fall.


There is, however, more “fall” color now than there was just six days ago.


The first apple tree (the rightmost tree in the first photo) is a red-fleshed variety. Its new foliar growth is also quite red, and the leaves retained a significant red tint well into summer. So it is not surprising that it also has the greatest fall color of any of these apples.

Fruits in Biblical Times

I never imagined there would be a discussion at F&V about this topic, but it is Fruits and Votes, and we are in the midst of Pesach, so why not?

In an earlier planting I asked about the historical accuracy of apples in charoset, a key part of the Passover seder, given that apples are a fruit neither indigenous to the Middle East nor ripe in the springtime. Vasi provided a link about the possible origin of the custom in some interesting experiences the Israelites may have had in apple orchards in the Nile region.

The possibility that apples might have been in that part of the world at that time in history did not seem right. However, it could be so. On the apple and its ancient cultivation beyond its probable origins well to the north of the Biblical lands, see the history at Vegparadise:

Some historians report the apple’s origins were rooted in Southwestern Asia, just south of the Caucasus Mountains between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Others note that apple seeds found in Anatolia were carbon dated 6500 BCE. Archeologists even found a fossilized imprint of an apple seed from the Neolithic period in England.

And so maybe apples really are traditional to the Exodus experience after all, as the link Vasi provide above suggests. Vegparadise again:

In the 13th century BCE, Ramses II ordered cultivated varieties of apples planted in the Nile delta.

I would not have expected apples to have been grown in that region, given the climate. This offers more evidence that apples–even old varieties–do not have a significant chilling requirement! (The Nile delta would not get much winter chill, and while the climate certainly has shifted and the region was not always desert, it was also not temperate, but rather probably tropical around Ramses time. By the time of the Exodus, it had probably largely completed its transformation to desert.)

Even if apples were known to the ancient Egyptians and Israelites, there is still no way there would have been fresh apples to eat at the original Passover, assuming the first one really took place in springtime.

This discussion inevitably leads to the question of what Eve’s fruit of temptation might have been. I would guess pomegranate. The Vegparadise page agrees, but also suggests maybe quince. Quince seems unlikely, given its non-Middle East origins, but if apples could grow in the Nile delta, quince certainly could grow in the Tigirs delta, as they have quite low chilling requirements. However, quince are almost certainly also from much farther to the north, so presumably human traders would have been required to bring quince into the region. That somehow does not quite fit with the whole Genesis/Adam & Eve story, does it?

Would you like cinnamon or strawberries with that?

cinnamon and strawberry

The apple on the left is a ‘Cinnamon Spice’ and the one on the right is a ‘Strawberry Parfait.’ I just harvested both on a foggy morning—today. And, yes, their names really do describe the flavors. Cinnamon Spice has a very mild cinnamon character, and is a great, cripy apple. Strawberry Parfait has a really intense berrylike flavor—some might even find it too intense, although I like it and Merry loves it, and she is not even much of a fan of apples, ordinarily.

This is one of the great pleasures of home orchard experimentation: The vast range of flavors you can get out of fruit is a constant source of amazement, as well as taste pleasure.

Now, I can hardly wait for my first ripe apple off this tree, growing on my apple espalier fence:


It is called Freiburg, and is said to have a distinct anise flavor.

(In the background of that photo you can see a little bit of the Ladera Frutal grapefruit grove.)

Oh, and about that foggy morning. Turned out it was a prelude to a pretty hot day—86 degrees.