Reine de Reinette Apple

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Reine de Reinette (Malus domestica v. Reine de Reinette) is a delicious dessert apple that smells of flowers and grass. The flesh is firm, juicy and sweet. Its flavor has been described as having hints of orange, bergamot, lemon, mango, melon and even plum, with a hint of vanilla that lingers in your mouth long after the last bite. Probably originating in Holland around the 1770s, Reine de Reinettes were in production in France, England and Germany during the 1700s and 1800s. During this period it was a favorite among the elite, today this apple is very elusive and has been almost lost in the modern era, perhaps due to its modest physical appearance. The tree was first imported and introduced it to commerce in America in 1884 by Felix Gillet, a young Frenchman who realized that miners coming to California in the wake of the Gold Rush would need fruit and nut trees to feed themselves. Gillet opened his nursery in 1871, in Nevada City, California, the epicenter of the Gold Rush, and began selling his favorite varieties. He propagated some of the best fruit and nut trees and established the foundations for the major agricultural industries of the Pacific Western states. Its description from Gillet’s catalog of 1884 is: “Medium, yellow, with a little red cheek; a splendid bearer. Very late.” Searching for the best apples of the Gold Rush in the 1970s, the Gillet Institute’s tree archeologists discovered only one small group of this variety in an old orchard at Acorn Ranch near Yorkville, California. This 1800s historic orchard, abandoned for over 50 years, was renovated in the 2010s and put into organic production. The tree appears immune to fireblight, and suffered limited codling moth damage. It produced fewer than 1000 pounds of this variety in 2013. Indeed as of 2014 it was still not commercially grown in the United States.

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Territory

StateUnited States
Region

California