The Tapay apple is locally known as native, as the variety name is not well known. The production area is the Colca Valley, which enjoys a particularly temperate climate which is perfect for the cultivation of fruit. The fruit is medium sized, about four fingers high, and the form is slightly oval. This apple has a yellowish peel with red streaks, while the flavor is a bit sour. The fruit is harvested with the use of a pallana (which means ‘picker’ in the Quechua language), which consists of a long wooden pole or a large reed, with a basket at the end that the apples fall into when they are picked from the trees.
This fruit is generally consumed fresh, while sometimes it is boiled to make ‘apple water’, and it can also be cooked over coals to prepare a dish called manzanitas asadas. The locals have always known a particular method of conserving this apple. They are set up in lines on top of hay in a loft, after having chosen only the healthiest apples, and then they are completely covered with hay; this creates a sort of protection that keeps air out and holds off the fruit’s deterioration. In this way the apples, which are harvested between March and April, can be consumed year round.
The inhabitants of this zone are known as choqro manzana, or green apples; this nickname shows the deep tie between the fruit and the community that has always cultivated it. Long ago the locals travelled with their animals to arrive in the Cusco zone, where they could trade their apples for chuño (dehydrated potato preserves). The exchanges took place along the route. In this way the Tapay apples arrived up to 70 km away. The farmers of Lluta, for example, remember when mules arrived carrying this prized fruit of an unforgettable scent.
This apple is cultivated in the middle and low zones of the Tapay region, and the taste becomes more sour the higher up it is grown. The exact yearly production numbers are currently unknown. For more than ten years now this apple has been threatened by competition from more common and less expensive apples, and by the fact that it is difficult for consumers to know if they are actually buying the original Tapay apples.