Ark of Taste
Colorado Orange Apple
When was the last time an apple asked more of you than just to slice it and smear it with peanut butter? When it seduced you into its color, aroma and flavor as slowly and deeply as a glass of Puligny Montrachet? Turn this heirloom in your hand and watch as pink-orange melts into yellow highlights and a sun-touched rosy blush. Breathe in the aroma of cider and soft rose. Smack into the crisp, crunch for a juicy explosion of complexity: lemon geranium, strawberry, bitter beer… even cheddar, butter and earth. Have you ever in your life? Well, have you?
The Colorado Orange Apple is an “apple by accident”. The first tree sprang out of the root graveyard of a less fortunate variety of apple sapling planted by settlers in the late 1800s. After its first season of bearing fruit, the Colorado Orange Apple tree became the apple of many an orchard-owner’s eye, and it was grafted widely across the state. In 1908, there were 3200 acres of apple orchard in Colorado, and the Colorado Orange Apple was one of only a dozen varieties that produced a full crop each season. Due to its late bloom, reliable harvest, sensuous flavor and buttery texture in pie, this Colorado native was in high demand and fetched high prices. During its heyday, it was cultivated all over the Midwest and planting was continually recommended to be more widespread.
It is unclear how or why the Colorado Orange Apple fell out of favor with orchardists, but as of 2016, there is only one tree in still existence bearing fruit. Efforts have been undertaken to preserve this tasty treat by distributing scions to other orchards in the Colorado area, and though there are a total of 50-60 new trees, none of them have yet borne fruit. This means the apple is only available for home consumption. If only vintners could grow a passion for apples, helping us to highlight their terroir and complexity as they have wine, we may have a shot at successfully dedicating orchards to the production of the Colorado Orange Apple as preservationists recommend. Until then, the paper description of flavor will have to stand in for the real thing. Are you satisfied with that? Well, are you?