Gelato Apple

Ark of taste
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Of the 14 ancient varieties of apples once cultivated on the slopes of Mt. Etna, today there are only four left: cola, gelato, gelato cola, and cirino.

The Gelato apple is currently a difficult cultivar to find in Sicily. Through the first half of the 1900s it was the third most important apple in the area around Mt. Etna, after cola and gelato cola apples. This apple’s name comes from the fact that the pulp has translucent areas that give the impression that the fruit is frozen. The tree is somewhat vigorous and has an open canopy with rounded leaves that are toothed on both edges and a long stem. The rounded, overlapping flowers, which bloom at the end of April, have white petals with red veins. The fruit have a spherical form and a short, thick stalk, and a deep stem cavity and calyx. The peel is yellow-green with white pours at the harvest, but becomes more or less intense yellow from maturation to consumption; some of the fruits have a slight pink coloring. The pulp is extremely white, mealy, juicy, aromatic, and very sweet. These apples are picked in the middle of October, do not conserve very well, and often have abnormalities, like a bitter pit or vitrification. Gelato apples are eaten fresh or used for cooking, and in fact they are quite suitable for making apple pies and cakes.

Gelato apples risk disappearing because since the 1970s the development of specialized facilities, along with the introduction of the red delicious variety, which is more popular than local varieties due to its size and color, have caused the sudden abandonment of local fruit cultivations, especially on Mt. Etna.

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