Ark of Taste
Sierra Beauty Apple
Hailing from the coastal valleys of northern California, the Sierra Beauty apple is a late harvest variety maturing from mid-October into November. The trees are vigorous upright and hard, with heavy crops every other year.
The apple has a round blocky shape that is slightly conical at the base and medium to large in size. Its skin is thick with a netted texture, colored green-yellow and aggressively striped with red that matures into distinct deep pink or red patches. The flesh of the Sierra Beauty is fine-textured, pale yellow, firm, crisp and juicy. The apple has an excellent balance of sweet and tart, with a tart finish. The flavor is robust, complex and lingering with notes of spice, herbs and flowers. It is an excellent choice to eat out of hand, but also is a favorite, by those familiar with it, for pies and preserves because of its full flavor and ability to hold its shape in firm pieces when cooked.
Discovered on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California in the 1890s as a seedling apple tree, it was thought to be a remnant of the miner’s movements during the earlier days of the California Gold Rush. In the 1920s this apple emerged again in the foothills of the Sierras near Chico, California and was carried for a time by a number of regional nurseries but again disappeared. The Gowan family officially rediscovered it in their Anderson Valley, California commercial orchard in 1980.
Since the rediscovery, the Gowan family has expanded their planting and sells the limited production directly to the public. Others have planted the apple as well, and it has become available as nursery stock to a limited degree, but not in sufficient quantities to be considered commercially viable.
The Sierra Beauty apple is an excellent keeper, even without refrigeration.
Photo courtesy of David Karp