The lemon apple (yabloko limonka) is one of the many old varieties that used to thrive in the region of Almaty, in southeastern Kazakhstan, where grows the Malus sieversii, wild apple that is said to be the 6000 years-old ancestor of all domesticated apples.
In fact, in the past, the city of Almaty used to be called Alma-Ata, which in Kazakh means “father of apples”.
The lemon apple can be traced in pomological studies on the apple varieties of the region of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and usually grows well in the southeast of Kazakhstan, where it bears fruit, while if it were to be found in northern areas, it would be showing a lack of hardiness and would miss the sun for a full ripening of the fruit.
This apple variety is winter-hardy, and the specific terroir of the Almaty region gives the apple a special sour but sweet taste, with a slight lemon flavor, from which its name derives. It is a medium size fruit, and its main color is a yellowish green, and golden yellow when ripe. Its flesh is dense, fine-grained and juicy. It is highly appreciated in desserts for the lemon taste it brings, and is perfectly suited for jams and preserves.
The fruit ripens in late August, and can be stored from 2 to 6 months if in good conditions, without losing its aroma.
Nowadays it is getting harder and harder to find the fruit, since it is not grown in the new habitations and gardens, but can rather be found in old gardens in suburban areas. Indeed Kazakh apple varieties are overwhelmed by the strong competition induced by Chinese imported apples, grown on large scales. As a result, those engaged in apple cultivation rarely choose to grow the old varieties, for they rather grow hasty, dwarf varieties that are more suited to an industrial scale of production. Lemon apple trees give fruit only after 6 to 7 years, and, if the yield is good, but is uneven over the years.