“Gravenstein is an attractive high-quality dessert and culinary apple, first described in 1797. It is well-known in the USA and northern Europe, and is still grown commercially on a small-scale. Gravenstein was declared the “national apple” of Denmark in 2005.
Gravenstein is a triploid variety and as is often the case with such varieties, produces a large vigourous tree with dark thick leaves. Possibly because of its triploid nature Gravenstein seems to have a greater degree of variability than most varieties.
Gravenstein is a relatively hardy variety and can withstand difficult conditions – by European standards. In North America where summers are often hotter and winters much colder, it has a reputation for being fussy, and undoubtedly does best in areas where the climate is closer to the milder winters and cooler summers of northern Europe.
Not surprisingly for such an old variety, the origins are uncertain. It is most closely associated with Denmark, and although widely known as “Gravenstein” in English-speaking countries, an alternative name is “Graasten” since it is thought the mother tree was raised at Graasten Castle in southern Jutland, Denmark.”
“The Gravenstein was introduced to western North America (Sonoma County California?) in the early 19th century, perhaps by Russian fur traders. The Gravenstein apple is considered by many to be one of the best all-around apples with a sweet, tart flavor and is especially good for baking and cooking. It is picked early, in July and August. But it has a variable ripening time, and does not keep well, so it isn’t grown commercially. The skin is a delicately waxy yellow-green with crimson spots and reddish lines.”
A pair of Gravensteins live on the hillside and produce fruit each year.
In Fall 2019, we produced a great-tasting hard cider pressing and fermenting apples from the two large Gravensteins. Unfortunately, large limbs have been breaking off due to weight and slope. In January 2020, we hired a knowledgeable fruit tree pruner and tree climber to maintain these trees. Paul climbed the trees and trimmed them way back. Both trees have also sprouted suckers which will hopefully be their replacements in the future.