December 30, 2013 Celebrating the Roxbury Russet
Apples are not native to North America, but rather are believed to have originated in the mountains of Kazakhstan and later brought to other continents. Apple and pear orchards once flourished in Roxbury and Dorchester, where the soil is rocky and perfectly acceptable to these fruits, if not other crops (hence the name ?Roxbury? ? originally spelled ?Rocksberry?). Did you know that if you plant a seed from an apple you find especially tasty, the fruit from the new tree will not be just like the parent apple?
|Apple expert, John Bunker|
To get a reliable apple that is just like the parent apple, it?s necessary to graft a shoot from the parent plant, called a ?scion,? onto a rootstock plant, which will yield fruit just like the mother tree. New England orchards used to have hundreds of apple varieties, developed for various qualities. The Roxbury Russet was prized as a ?keeping? apple ? one that could be stored for months after harvesting. In fact, the flavor continues to develop after it is harvested in the fall and is best eaten later in the winter. Roxbury Russets were particularly good cider apples, and useful in earlier centuries when hard cider was the beverage of choice.
French Apple-Pear Salad