So here's an apple you probably won't find on the east coast: the Pink Pearl. Isn't it pretty? Like the Gravenstein, it's a summer variety, which means we're now at the tail end of the season. Sigh.
The breed is popular with apple enthusiasts, but because it bruises easily and doesn't keep well in storage, it never made it to the supermarket shelves.
To make matters worse, Pink Pearls are homely on the outside, with dull yellow-brown, faintly blushing skin and an uneven conical shape. I almost skipped over them at the farmers market myself. But they have a secret: inside, they're positively vampy, with shockingly pink, sweet-tart flesh. Even the blooms are bright pink. The fruit is crisp and tastes of raspberries and lemon custard. In fact, I baked some Pink Pearls in a galette with raspberries and they were a natural pairing.
The first Pink Pearl was hybridized in Northern California in 1944 from another red-fleshed variety called "Surprise," which, in turn, probably descended from an ancient breed of red-fleshed Turksh crabapples. "Surprise" apples were beautiful, but sour; a plant breeder named Albert Etter came up with with Pink Pearl as a way to breed more sweetness into them. So I'm giving thanks to him and to the farmers who keep these heirlooms in circulation.