Esperiega Apple

Ark of taste
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Manzana Esperiega

Rincón de Ademuz is a rural area in the north west of the province of Valencia, between Cuenca and Turuel. It has a continental climate with low levels of precipitation (350-400 mm per year) but frequent winter and spring frosts, which often cause significant damage, particularly in spring when fruit trees blossom. The areas where Esperiega apples grow have fertile deep soils due to alluvial deposits from the rivers Turia, Ebron and Boligues. The region of Ademuz is traditionally known for the cultivation of an important group of apple varieties (Esperiega, Miguela, Normanda, Ricarda, Garcia and Comadre), some of which are native and others of unknown origin. In the 1950s these varieties had a certain degree of economic importance. At present some of these cultivars are at risk of extinction for various reasons—a lack of generational change, an unfavorable climate, but mainly economic reasons. Until the 1960s production was absorbed by wholesalers who came to Ademuz to buy Esperiega. In the 1970s these buyers started to demand new, more commercially attractive varieties of American origin (such as Golden, Starking and Red Delicious), causing the gradually replacement of traditional varieties. Fortunately, thanks to the renowned quality of Esperiega apples, particularly in the province of Valencia, its production did not totally disappear. Its present rediscovery is mainly due to the efforts of a group of young growers, members of the Valencian cooperative “Virgin de la Huerta”. In addition the Valencian cooperative CEAGA is trying out the cultivation of traditional varieties using ecological methods—in fact these cultivars are better adapted to the soil and climate of the area and do not need to be kept in a cool store. Cultivation continues to be carried out in a traditional manner, from pruning and irrigation to manual harvesting. New treatments against pests and disease have been introduced, but in the case of Esperiega, unlike commercial varieties, only limited treatment is needed. Due to its widespread nationwide popularity, Esperiega apples are variously called Esperiega, Esperiega Fina, Esperiega Roja, Esperiega Encarnada. It is a variety that blossoms between April and May. The fruit is medium to medium large in size, has a flattened spherical shape with regular or pentagonal profile; its skin is hard, waxy and shiny. The flesh is yellow-green, with “frozen” areas. The skin has red stripes of varying extent depending on how much sun it received, and white patches covering the rest of the surface. The stem is short, greenish, strong and very wide near the center of the fruit. The stem cavity is almost always wide and open, with cracks. There are triangular, pointed, outwardly curving sepals. The flesh is white with greenish veining in the center; it is hard, crispy, and fairly juicy with a slight wine flavor. Fruit is picked from the end of October to the end of November. Given the consistency and properties of the flesh, the apple is suitable for cooking. After picking, it keeps well when stored over winter and this is when the apple develops its best condition for eating: it loses its hardness and the flavor is more intense. It is a typical feature in the province of Ademuz, in 1903 the first tree was grown in the area of Guerrero (region of Rincón de Ademuz), nowadays a deserted area, on land owned by D. Manuel Manzano.

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Comunidad Valenciana