Sunday, October 14, 2007

Albemarle Pippin

An older text describes one of the area's claims to fame.

Along the eastern side of the blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia, with Crozet near Charlottesville as center in the called the Piedmont, is another apple district from which large quantities of fine-flavored varieties are annually exported to England. The chief apples of this region are two dessert apples, Winesap and Albemarle Pippin, called after Albemarle County, Virginiia, but grown in the West under the name of Newtown Pippin. Thomas Jefferson grew this variety near Charlottesville, in Albemarle County, before the Revolutionary War, and the American minister to England in the first year of Queen Victoria’s reign, coming from that county, presented her royal highness with several barrels of Albemarle Pippins, which pleased her so much that she had the duty on apples removed; from that time to this the Albemarle Pippin has gone to England in steadily increasing quantities. It is said that where the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad crosses the Blue Ridge Mountains west of Charlottesville, one can walk along the slope of the mountain for seven miles and pass continuously from one apples orchard into the next.

Smith, Joseph Russell. The World’s Food Resources. H. Holt and Co. 1919: 385.

Having collected a few of these treasures from Carter's Mountain - among the throngs of weekend visitors - it was time to see what all the fuss was about. An ugly apple indeed, the pulp was crisp and tart but with a nice finish. As these apples supposedly age very well, the rest will be eaten over the coming weeks. According to one of the cashiers on Carter's Mountain, the drought limited this year's crop of Pippins. This weekend and the last were the only times they were being offered. In a February 2007 Daily Progress Article one of the owners of Carter's Mountain said that Albemarle Pippin demand was not rising. With a decreased harvest this year and the weekend hoards, I picked my few apples from a couple handfuls left in the bin.

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