Birkenfeld Red Apple

Ark of taste
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Birkenfelder Rotäpfelchen

The Birkenfelder Rotäpfelchen is a regional apple variety particularly well-known in the rural district of Birkenfeld, localed among the Hunsrück range of low mountains. This historic variety was nearly lost with the lack of information identifying remaining trees. Currently, ten older, fruit-bearing trees have been identified in this area of western Germany. Traditional uses of the fruit were also nearly lost, but public notices in local newspapers yielded responses from people familiar with the variety who noted that this fruit was typically used especially for the production of an apple jelly.

Thanks to identification of the older trees, scions were secured, and now grafts may be purchased from local nurseries and conservation organizations. Over 100 young trees of this variety have now been planted in the region, and the apple jelly made with this fruit variety is sold locally. The Birkenfelder Rotäpfelchen is characterized by a dark red, almost black peel, with slightly red-veined flesh. Their flavor is delicately tart, and the fruit have a good shelf life. Apple jelly made with these apples has a fine, fruity taste with a slight red tint.

The Birkenfelder Rotäpfelchen was once part of the varietal diversity of traditional meadow orchards of the region. The art of grafting was widespread at the time and secured the continued existence of the variety. The orchards mainly served to supply the local population, as the Hunsrück is not a traditional fruit-growing region. Today, the local association for the conservation of the countryside issues an annual call for people to pick and submit Rotäpfelchen for its apple exchange. These are stored separately and used to make Rotäpfelchen jelly that is sold at regional food shops, farmstands and markets.

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