Although thousands of varieties of apples exist, even more have become extinct. This is especially true in the apple-growing regions of the Southeast. Some estimate that of the 1,400 varieties originating in the South, only about 200 varieties exist today. That number lessens each year.
Heritage — heirloom, antique — apples come in an array of colors and shapes, some with freckles, others smooth. Some have unfamiliar names such as Horse, Sheep's Nose, Yellow Newton Pippin, Limbertwig, and Rambo. You won't find Northern Spy — that's a popular heritage apple grown in colder climates.
Heritage apples do not look like their mass-distributed swollen bright red or green supermodel cousins. But they can beat out their flashy kin in a taste test any day.
You can find these apples at the farmers markets right now. One vendor told me they usually put the heritage apples in bins at the end since the people who want them will look for them and those who don't know them won't buy them. At the Kings Drive Farmers Market (open Tuesdays and Fridays), some of the heritage varieties sell out early in the morning.
Two of the apples you should try are Arkansas Black, a kissing cousin of the Stayman Winesap with dark red, almost black skin, and yellow flesh. The distinct flavor of this apple mellows with age. Grimes Golden is a highly sought-after apple known for its rich lemony flavor and is a preferred cooking and cider apple.
Looking for a food you can't find? Or do you know of other food items unique to the Q.C.? Whether it's regional foods or international, talk to me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-522-8334, extension 136.