The Astrachan apple originated in Russia, traveled through Sweden, over to England, then North America, ending up in my parents front yard. It’s an early variety with a long ripening period. When it hits it’s peak it is the most glorious apple I’ve ever tasted. Crisp, thin skinned, juicy and tart. It’s by far my favorite.
Sadly, it doesn’t store well. Shortly after picking it turns mealy. Still great for pies or drying, but the old fruit growers in this area turned to other more marketable apples and wiped the tree out. The astrachan is now considered heirloom.
Lucky for me, this tree always has a healthy crop, shared between my siblings, the deer and crows. They’re said to be a medium sized apple but these are always enormous. The leaves have a bluish tinge and the branches stretch out in a wide, snaking canopy. It’s a beautiful old tree, was there when my parents bought the turn of the century farm house in 1979. A survivor in a town that was once all orchards, now a sprawl of wineries and ridiculous sized holiday homes.