Lunar New Year Traditions

Although the Western calendar has been adopted by most Asian cultures, Lunar New Year (also called the Spring Festival) remains a holiday of great cultural and historical meaning going back at least 2000 years! Like Thanksgiving in the United States, travelling home for a family reunion dinner is an imperative for people who celebrate. In fact, in China Lunar New Year counts as the biggest annual migration of people on Earth (even larger than the number of Muslims who visit Mecca every year), with just shy of 400 million expected to take to the railways to travel to their hometowns for the holiday this year. And in New York City, public schools are closed on the first day of the New Year holiday.

The Lunar New Year varies by date year-to-year. It occurs on the second New Moon after the December solstice. This year, the Lunar New Year begins on Friday, February 16th, although the New Year’s eve family dinner on the night of the 15th is the true beginning of the holiday. It lasts 15 days, and culminates this year on Saturday, March 3rd with the Lantern Festival: lanterns are lit at night and then let go into the sky en masse with wishes for prosperity and good luck in the coming year. It is truly magical to behold.

Lunar New Year is not just a holiday celebrated in Asian countries. With our sizable population of Asian immigrants, Lunar New Year and Lantern Festivals are celebrated in many towns and cities across the United States. Here in New York City, the Chinese New Year’s Day parade is a popular multi-cultural event. This is a fun, happy and lively holiday, vivid with colors, music, noise and special foods.

Origins of the Lunar New Year Holiday

Lunar New Year began in China with the fable of a horrible monster named “Nian”. The story roughly goes that Nian liked to eat people and it would come into the villages on New Year’s Day and gobble up the villagers, finding children a particular delicacy. The people of the village would flee from their homes every year before Nian was due to arrive. But one year, and old man stayed to try to fight the beast. The old man draped red papers all over the town and set off firecrackers all night long. Nian did not come and the village came to believe that Nian was afraid of the bright color red and the loud noises of the firecrackers.

This is why red is such a significant color for this holiday. Red repels bad luck and thus allows good fortune the opportunity to reign. People dress in red, decorate their homes in red, and give money in red envelopes. In Lunar New Year parades, Nian is depicted as the familiar dragon that winds his way through the streets and people on the sidelines set off firecrackers and use noisemakers to frighten the monster away and keep them safe.

Preparations for the Lunar New Year Celebration

People spend a lot of time preparing for the Lunar New Year. They clean their houses not just to be ready for family and guests at the New Year’s Eve dinner, but also because it symbolizes the washing away of any bad luck left over from the preceding year and allows room for the good luck in the new year to accumulate. Once the cleaning is done, the brooms and dust pans are put away so that any good luck that comes cannot be “swept away”. Homes are decorated in red paper and some people actually paint doors and window sills with a fresh coat of red paint. Some homes are also decorated with paper cutouts of Chinese phases that will bring good luck. People buy new clothes, often in red or other bright colors, again as a symbol of a new beginning. This is similar to what we see in the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, where people wear new articles of clothing to signify a fresh start with the New Year.

Also analogous to the traditions of Rosh Hashanah is the attention paid to homonyms: words that are spelled alike or pronounced similarly even if they have a different meaning. Auspicious words that mean good fortune, wealth, health and prosperity are emphasized as are foods and other items and activities that sound like auspicious words when they are spoken. For example, the word “hair” in Chinese sounds like the word for “prosperity”. So if you need a “hair cut”, you are wise to get it done before the Lunar New Year otherwise you may “cut your prospects for wealth”. Similarly, you would wash your hair in preparation for the New Year, so as not to “wash away” your chances for good fortune. More on other superstitions under “Taboos” below.

In Asian cultures, business and personal debts, whether of money or of gratitude, are expected to be paid up before the New Year and this is not dissimilar to the thanks and apologies and amends made in Jewish cultures on Rosh Hashanah.

Lunar New Year’s Eve Dinner

Family members will travel far and wide to return home for the traditional annual reunion dinner on Lunar New Year’s Eve. It is customary for guests to bring gifts. If you are invited to such a dinner this week, you can bring or send ahead our “good fortune” gift basket of lucky fruit and Year of the Dog hand-iced cookies in the propitious colors of red and gold!

People will spend days preparing all the special foods customarily found in the Lunar New Year’s Eve meal, not unlike many cross-cultural holidays. Similar to the Jewish New Year, foods that are eaten on the Lunar New Year are homophones for words that convey good luck and prosperity.

Not only do the dishes themselves matter, but the way they are prepared, the way they are served and how and when they are eaten are also significant and will vary depending on local customs and individual family traditions. But a Chinese New Year meal almost always includes the 7 lucky foods: whole fish, dumplings, spring rolls, a rice-based cake called niangao, longevity noodles, certain fresh fruits, and sweet rice balls called tangyuan.

WHOLE FISH:

Certain fish when pronounced out loud sound like auspicious words and so these fish are usually served as the main dish at a Lunar New Year’s Eve dinner party. For example, carp (jee-yoo) sounds quite similar to the Chinese word for “good luck” (jee), and catfish (nyen-yoo) sounds almost exactly like the Chinese word for “year surplus”. And if you eat two fish, it means “surplus year after year”! So the belief is that if you eat these fish you will also literally absorb these good wishes and have much abundance in the New Year.

The fish is usually placed in the center of the table with the head facing the eldest or most important member of the dinner party. This positioning connotes respect to the chosen person, and he or she is to eat the fish first. Fish is generally the last dish eaten. Some fish is always left over to be eaten the next day in the New Year so that the “surplus” can be continued.

DUMPLINGS:

The making and eating of dumplings is also a traditional family activity at the Lunar New Year, especially in Northern China, where they are made after dinner and eaten around midnight at the very start of the New Year. Dumplings are boat-shaped like ancient coins of silver or gold, and thus they represent wealth. Eating lots of dumplings means making lots of money in New Year!

The most lucky dumplings are the ones that are made with many pleats, and some people conceal a white thread or a copper coin inside one of the dumplings: whoever bites into that one will get the gift of long life or wealth, respectively.

SPRING ROLLS:

Named because they are eaten at the Spring Festival, these treats are little dough rectangles filled with vegetables or meat, rolled into bars, and deep fried. The golden color and the shape make them look like “gold bars” and hence they symbolize wealth. Spring rolls are especially popular in Eastern China.

NIANGAO:

Niango (also called Eight Treasures Rice) is a special cake or pudding made primarily of a sticky, glutinous rice and sugar, layered in patterns with a mixture of nuts, dried fruit, seeds such as lotus and gingko, berries, and sometimes red bean paste. The literal translation of niango means “New Year cake” and when spoken sounds like “increasing prosperity year after year” or “getting higher and higher”. The suggestion is that you will gain a better position in your business and your bank account when you eat this traditional treat. In Southern China, niangao is given as gifts to family and friends through-out the 15 day New Year celebration.

LONGEVITY NOODLES:

Noodles are often a part of the Lunar New Year’s Eve meal. They are made especially long (up to 2 feet in length!) and are uncut to symbolize a long and healthy life. Longevity noodles can be prepared in numerous ways, and traditions will vary with the local cuisine.

FRESH FRUIT:

Citrus fruit are especially coveted on the Lunar New Year. The round shape is a symbol of fullness and the yellow, golden color denotes wealth. In keeping with the purpose of many other foods at the reunion dinner, the names of certain citrus are homophones for good luck. That’s why we include only the best citrus fruits in our Lunar New Year gift basket.

TANGYUAN:

These sweet rice balls are featured prominently during the Lantern Festival at the end of the 15 day Lunar New Year celebration, and in Southern China are eaten throughout the holiday. Again, the round shape signifies fullness and the sound tangyuan makes sounds similar to gathering together, like the family reunion dinner on Lunar New Year’s Eve.

Lunar New Year’s  Day Celebrations

After staying up all night, or at least until after midnight to greet the New Year, daytime celebrations may be quieter, although in New York City, the annual “Chinese New Year parade” that snakes around Chinatown and little Italy is a lively and festive New Year’s Day celebration. Firecrackers and fireworks are set off to ward of evil in order to allow in all the good fortune. Giving gifts of money in brightly colored red envelopes is another holiday tradition and most people will receive a red envelope from someone. People will dress in new clothes, often red (the luckiest color) or other brightly hued colors to reflect their wishes for a good year and their happy mood.

Lunar New Year Taboos

The traditions of many cultural holidays arise from ancient myths and fables that are passed down over generations and while they may become diluted, they often persist and Lunar New Year is no exception. There are many superstitions surrounding this holiday in Asian cultures.  Following are some interesting examples of beliefs and taboos for the first day of the Lunar New Year:

  1. Don’t take medicine or you will be sick for the entire year.
  2. Don’t go to the hospital or you will bring sickness on yourself for the entire year…. unless it’s an emergency!!
  3. Don’t take out the garbage or you will be dumping out all the good luck that has accumulated in the house.
  4. Don’t use knives, scissors, needles or other sharp objects that you could hurt yourself on. Any accidental injury can bring bad luck and loss of security.
  5. Don’t break tools or equipment as it can cause a loss of wealth in the New Year.
  6. Don’t eat porridge for breakfast because it is what poor people generally have for breakfast and the New Year doesn’t want to start off “poor”.
  7. Don’t let children cry because it will bring bad luck to the family.
  8. Don’t wear white or black clothes because these colors are associated with death and mourning and you don’t want to bring that into your house.
  9. Don’t allow anyone to steal from you, especially don’t be pick-pocketed because it means that your entire accumulated wealth for the year will be stolen.
  10. Don’t owe any money lest your wealth will go to others.

Next year will be the Year of the Pig, representing the 12th and final cycle in the 12 year lunar calendar. Until then, wishing everyone a very lucky and prosperous Lunar New Year!

Gift Ideas for the Lunar New Year 2018: The Year of the Dog

This year, Friday February 16th marks the first day of the New Lunar Year! The date changes every year and is based on the Chinese Lunar calendar which uses a 12 year cycle instead of the more familiar Western 12 month cycle. The holiday used to be called Chinese New Year (and still sometimes is), but since the holiday is celebrated among many Asian cultures, it has now become more commonly known as the Lunar New Year, and more recently, the Spring Festival.

Despite the fact that most Asian cultures have adopted the Western yearly calendar, Lunar New Year has maintained its status as a culturally significant and historically important annual holiday. The celebrations begin on the eve of the holiday (February 15th this year) and last for 15 days culminating with the magical Lantern Festival.

The Lunar New Year is a big gift giving holiday. Gifts that symbolize prosperity and good fortune for the coming year are offered to business associates and extended family alike. Whether you are sending it from afar, or bringing it to your host for a traditional Lunar New Year’s eve reunion dinner, there are some simple rules to follow when choosing an appropriate gift for Chinese New Year.

Fruit Baskets

Fruit baskets are time-honored gifts for Lunar New Year. Lucky for Manhattan Fruitier! And luck is what this holiday is all about. Customary gifts are those that are symbols of good luck, wealth and prosperity. Typically, citrus fruits are given this time of year for several reasons. First of all, the Lunar New Year falls during the cold winter months when citrus is the most abundant fruit. Secondly, citrus fruits are round in shape and “gold”en in color: roundness suggests fullness in the belly and the pocket, and having “gold” means having wealth. Finally, the way the names of citrus fruit such as tangerines and oranges are pronounced in Chinese sounds like the same word for “success”.

Every year at Manhattan Fruitier we like to create a new Lunar New Year gift that incorporates only propitious fruits along with cookies hand-iced in lucky red and gold colors and made in the shape of the animal of the year: this year, it is the dog, known for its loyalty, sociability, smarts and courage. How adorable is this gift?

Traditionally, fruit baskets are displayed on the Lunar New Year dinner table as a kind of centerpiece so a pretty fruit basket filled with symbols of good fortune is a perfect Chinese New Year gift to bring whether for family, friends or business partners!

Money

Cash gifts are also common to give on the Lunar New Year. This makes sense as the holiday is all about welcoming wealth. This time of year, shops in Chinatown here in Manhattan are simply overflowing with lucky red envelopes for cash. If it’s wrapped in red it’s more than just the dollar amount: it’s considered lucky money! Make sure the bills are clean and crisp as it would be considered highly disrespectful to give a gift of old or dirty cash. And take care not to use white envelopes: these are reserved for cash gifts given at funerals only.

Numbers hold great traditional significance. For example, the number four when spoken is very similar to the word for death in Chinese. So for the lucky Lunar New Year, you will want to avoid giving a monetary gift in an amount that includes the number four. Even numbers are the best bet and since the luckiest number is eight and it is believed that good things come in pairs, it has been suggested that $88 is the perfect amount of money to give if you are going to give cash for a Lunar New Year gift.

Among business associates, paying off of any debt incurred during the past year is expected before the Lunar New Year begins. It does not bode well for prosperity if you carry a debt into the New Year, so it is also considered de rigueur to refuse giving a loan to someone you care about.

Dog-Themed Gifts

Since 2018 begins the Year of the Dog, it could be a fun idea to send a gift that is sweet and untraditional, but on topic with the Lunar New Year, such as our litter of six chocolate French Bulldog puppies: 2 each of dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate!

 2018 Lunar New Year Gift Idea

2018 Lunar New Year Gift Idea

Dogs themselves are considered lucky animals to the Chinese. Dogs are faithful companions who will be loyal to you whether you are wealthy or not. One adage is that if a stray dog comes into your home, it is a sign that good fortune is coming soon. So an unexpected gift of chocolate dogs will be welcomed on Chinese New Year!

Rice Jars

A symbolic gift to give for the Lunar New Year is a proverbial jar full of rice! In Asian culture, a full rice jar connotes affluence and the good fortune to be free from concern about having enough food to eat. During the Lunar New Year celebration, it is important to have food be plentiful as a harbinger of the riches to come. While many modern day kitchens do not have an actual physical jar of rice, the sentiment of this gift for the holiday will not be lost.

Liquor

A gift of liquor is also quite common at this holiday, especially among corporate colleagues. Look for the amber-colored spirits and wines in keeping with the belief that gifts of gold color will bring wealth and good fortune. There are so many interesting options available these days with the artisanal spirits trend: whiskeys are more popular than ever! Before giving a gift of wine or liquor, it’s always a good idea to be sure that your recipient drinks alcohol.

Gifts to Avoid

There are certain gifts that would be considered bad omens to bring into one’s home and should be avoided during the Lunar New Year. For instance, although fruit baskets are customary gifts at this time of year, pears should not be included because the way the word for pear sounds when spoken in Chinese is not auspicious. Scissors and knives are thought to represent the act of slicing apart or splitting and can suggest the severing of a relationship. Also, if you were to cut yourself on the gift, it would bring bad luck for the following year. Clocks symbolize the passing of time and the approach of death, which is not what one wants to bring into their home. Beware about giving a necklace, a tie or a belt as a gift, unless it is to someone you have an intimate relationship with as these items are all things that are believed to bind you together so are usually exchanged only between couples.

Colors carry deep meanings in Asian cultures. As I mentioned above, the color white is associated with funerals. Black or blue color signifies death. So when considering a gift for the Lunar New Year, be careful to wrap your present in a lucky color. Red is believed to be a color that scares away evil spirits that bring bad fortune; yellows and golds symbolize wealth and prosperity. So be sure to include these colors in your Lunar New Year gifts and you will clearly communicate the wish you want to bring with the gift you give.

In my next blog about the Lunar New Year, I’ll talk about some of the history and holiday traditions of this fascinating ancient celebration.

Valentine’s Day Gift Basket Ideas

As January progresses past New Year’s and the month of February approaches, our attention begins to turn to the next holiday: Valentine’s Day! Most people associate the spirit of the day with romantic and sexual love, so when we think about giving gifts on Valentine’s Day, we have a tendency to focus on things that are associated with passion and indulgence. And that’s what I’m going to spotlight today when I share with you my classic “themes of love” Valentine’s Day gift basket ideas.

Sensual Fruits

Fruits embody sensuality. First, fruits are actually “ovaries” that develop around fertilized seeds after the reproductive process of pollination. Second, think about the words we use to describe fruit: sweet, fleshy, juicy, succulent, luscious, ripe, and tender to name a few. Third, the way we eat fruit can be pretty sensuous to experience and to observe. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the sexiness in all that!

Finally, certain fruits are believed to possess properties of an aphrodisiac. For example, the apple is a notorious symbol of temptation since Biblical times, and in Greek mythology, the lure of eating pomegranate seeds was too much for poor Persephone to deny and thus she sealed her own fate to live below the earth’s surface in Hades.

To learn more about other “fruits of love”, refer to our popular blog from February 2014 written with knowledge and affection by our own Matthew J!

Roses

The red rose is a classic symbol of love. When you send red roses, the meaning of your missive is unambiguous! Many of our Valentine’s Day gift baskets are paired with red roses for that very reason. A fresh fruit basket or a box of chocolates suddenly takes on a whole new implication once we add red roses to the gift.

We order well over a thousand long stemmed red roses for Valentine’s Day every year! We actually start looking at the roses much earlier, around the middle of January. We purchase several varieties from different farms and we experiment with them to find the best performer. We want to learn how fast they bloom, how big they open, and how long they last. We want the roses you send to open in a wildly flirtatious way and look good even as they are fading! This year, we have selected a red rose called “Freedom”. If you are looking for Valentine’s Day gift basket ideas that include red roses, ours will be available on February 12th, the Monday before the holiday.

Chocolates

Chocolates have also become rather de rigueur in Valentine’s Day gift baskets for him or for her. Chocolates and their creamy sweetness represent indulgence and Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to pamper your sweetheart with treats of all kinds. Chocolate-covered strawberries are ubiquitous this time of year. For the best options, look for smaller strawberries as they are the tastiest. Some even come with their green tops still on for extra charm. Harder to find is a strawberry dipped in real, premium chocolate, like Valhrona. Most “chocolate” that is used is completely fake, and although it may look like chocolate, it doesn’t taste like chocolate.

Not sure whether to send fresh fruit, roses or chocolates? Why choose? We can solve that dilemma by offering Valentine’s Day gift baskets (for her or for him) that include all three components! We call them our Three Part Harmony Gifts, in three sizes:

Three Part Harmony: Tenor, Alto (pictured), and Soprano

Lavish Gifts

This may be the year when you want to express your ardor in a monumental way: go for it! Think sumptuous and extravagant. Create a feast of love with an intimate tableau in your own living room (or bedroom). You can do it yourself, or let us do it for you. Our luxe and deluxe Epicurean Hamper will tempt with delicate delectables from appetizers to dessert. Consider having it delivered with caviar and champagne to amp up the passion even more.

Epicurean Hamper with Caviar

Or perhaps you’d prefer to send our “Lavish Love”: a new Valentine’s Day gift basket idea that we developed for 2018. The name says it all! We set the stage with champagne, chocolates, caviar and red roses, and you provide the rest for a perfect romantic experience.

New for Valentine’s Day 2018

Whether you create your own “themes of love” gift baskets, or choose to send one of ours, don’t be sexist in your thinking about this holiday! Traditionally, Valentine’s Day gifts tend to be for her, but men like getting Valentine’s Day surprises too. Our romantic selections make great Valentine’s Day gift baskets for him as well!

What are the Best Fall Fruits?

Although the Autumnal Equinox is not until September 22nd, you can sense the coming of Fall much earlier. On the drive north to visit my Dad in Connecticut shortly after Labor Day, I saw the first indisputable signs of Fall — changing leaves on some trees along the highway! Shortly after that, Jehv and I took out our air conditioners and opened our windows to the cooler night air. The next morning, I awoke to the sounds of the birds chirping (which I hadn’t heard all summer with the air conditioners roaring). It would have been an entirely lovely experience to hear the little birdies if only I could have gotten back to sleep!

Fall is truly upon us and while we may lament the loss of the long, lazy days of summer, Fall brings its own unique pleasures. For instance, what’s better than tasting an apple from the first crop of the season? We all look forward to the fruits that are harvested during the autumn months and here is what I think are some of the best Fall fruits!

Apples

Lady Apples, Fall FruitApples of all varieties are ripening in the orchards right now and some will be ready to pick before others. October is the peak month. Drew says “Apples are ready for picking when it’s cold enough for your nose to run!” Love the visual, Drew…..

Why are apples the number one best fall fruits when we can eat them year round? Because of their freshness! After picking, apples are placed in cold storage to retain their flavor and can last a long time. That’s why we can offer apples in our gift baskets year round. But there is nothing like biting into a crisp, juicy apple at the peak of its freshness!

At Manhattan Fruitier, we look forward to getting the first crop of freshly picked apples to put into our Fall gift baskets. We are always on the look-out for more unusual, antique apple varieties grown on smaller local farms. We also strive to select as many organic apple varieties as possible for our fruits for the Fall season. Below is an example of the kinds of apples we feature in our gifts for Fall.

September: Jonagold and MacIntosh apples.

October: Black Oxford, Blondees Champlain, Blue Pearmain, Esopus Spitzenbury, Hidden Rose, HoneyCrisp, Jazz, Mollies Delicious, Opal, Orlenas Reinette, Rambour Franc and Zester Champlain.

November: Northern Spy and Winesap

 

Pumpkins

What fruit better characterizes the Fall season then the pumpkin? Yes, pumpkins are technically fruit! (Fruits are the seed bearing part of the plant that grows from the ovaries of the flowering part. Vegetables are other parts of the plant: the stem, the leaf, the root and the bud). Pumpkins are one of the top fruits for Fall. We all associate the Fall with the pumpkin: in October, it’s the Halloween Jack-o-Lantern; in November it’s pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner. Those of us who frequent Starbucks’ stores know that the limited edition “pumpkin spice lattes” launch in early September! Many of us probably recall the tradition of going to pumpkin farms on school trips in October or with your family as a kid. You could pick-your-own pumpkins, have some hot apple cider, and grab a hay-ride too! Maybe you are planning a visit to a local farm with your own kids this year.

 

Pomegranates

Pomegranates, Fall FruitThe height of pomegranate season is in the Fall and that makes them another distinctive fruit for Fall season. The first pomegranates are harvested in California in October. Pomegranate season lasts until January. But we are able to offer pomegranates pretty much throughout the year for two reasons. First, as soon as you pick a pomegranate, the ripening process stops. If you can keep them in cold storage, pomegranates can retain their flavor for a long time, just like apples. Second, pomegranates are grown successfully around the world so that they can be available for import year round. For example, pomegranate season in the Southern Hemisphere is from March through May.

 

Cranberries

Cranberries are one of the few fruits native to North America and have a long tradition in New England culture. Most cranberries (which grow on vines) are farmed in Massachusetts in water-logged bogs. Cranberries are truly a Fall season fruit. The cranberry harvest is relatively short beginning in mid-September and ending sometime in early November before the frosts.  Cranberries have an especially strong connection to the Thanksgiving holiday: cranberry relishes are ubiquitous at the Thanksgiving table and probably have been since the time of the first settlers.  

 

Grapes

Bunch of Grapes, Fall FruitGrapes are readily available at the supermarket year round, but in the United States, the grape harvest begins in mid-summer in California and continues well into September. At Manhattan Fruitier, we especially look forward to muscat grapes. Muscat grapes are a bit more unusual than the familiar seedless red and green Thompson grapes, although we love them too! Muscat grapes have a distinctive perfume-y taste.  They look different too, tending to be larger than most grape varieties with slightly thicker skins which some people like to peel, a few big seeds, and a color that is a combination of green and red looking rather as if it is blushing! We think Muscat grapes are one of the best Fall fruits to look forward to.

 

 Figs

mission-figsGenerally, fresh figs have two crops. The first crop is picked sometime from May to July depending on the variety, and then again from September to November. At Manhattan Fruitier, we pair our Prosciutto and Parmigiano gift basket with fresh figs whenever they are in season.  Prosciutto and figs are a classic Italian combination, and nothing beats the synergy of those flavors. We get our fresh figs from California and typically use the rich and deep purple Black Mission figs. Sometimes we use the lighter tawny colored Kadota figs or the dark Brown Turkey figs.  If you’ve tasted a fresh, ripe fig, you’ll understand why we have highlighted them as one of the most eagerly anticipated fruits for Fall. And if you’ve never tasted a fresh fig, get to your local market — you are missing out on a real treat!

Want some inspiration for fall-themed gifts? Check out our 5 Fall Gift Basket Ideas post.

Celebrate Fall with Apple and Pear Varietals

 

Apples

 

We are never short of delicious apples and pears here at Manhattan Fruitier, but the fall is when we receive crates of new-crop varieties straight from our favorite orchards.

Many apple and pear varieties have been in danger of extinction due to commercial growers seeking more durable types that can sustain long periods in cold storage. This has led to breeding apples that conform to the model of perfectly round, red and shiny, while casting away the knobby, oddly shaped russet types that are packed with brilliant flavor. Over time this has trained many people to eat with their eyes and not their mouths.

We are fortunate to have access to lesser known apple and pear varieties as a few dedicated farmers remain committed to growing these “forgotten fruits” and bringing them to market.

Here are some of the apples we will be featuring this Fall

ZESTAR

 

Apple-Zestar

The Zestar apple tastes sweet and tangy, with accents of brown sugar, and is known for its unique flavor. The apple is best used for fresh eating, and for use in a variety of baked goods, sauces, desserts, and salads.

MOLLIE’S DELICIOUS

Apple-Mollies-Delicious

 

Mollie’s Delicious has a subtle pinkish red skin and exceptionally pleasing taste. While Mollie’s Delicious has the distinct “bottom bumps” of a Red Delicious, it is not a Red Delicious sport. Rather, it is a cross between Gravenstein and Golden Delicious bloodlines.

BLONDEE

Apple-Blondee

 

The Blondee is a sweet, cheerful early apple with an alluring fragrance. Great for eating out of hand or cooking. It was discovered growing amongst an orchard of Gala apples. It ripens a few days before the Gala and is one of the only yellow apples available in the early weeks of apple season. Blondees have been described as the “yellow Galas.”

SHINGO ASIAN PEAR

 

Asian pears have been a staple in our gifts for years, but we’ve recently been swooning over a wonderful varietal grown in New Jersey (of all places). The Shingo pear, grown at Evergreen Farm, is the crispest, sweetest, most mouth-watering pear we have ever eaten. This exceptional Asian pear has pearly white flesh and is subtly sweet and fragrant, juicy and crisp to the bite. Best eaten cold, they explode with a refreshing burst in your mouth. In case you couldn’t tell, we adore this fruit!

BLACK OXFORD

Apple Black Oxford blog homepage crop 20161101_0399

The Black Oxford is small and quite dark, spattered with rust-colored speckles. The blush is a deep red with purple overtones, almost mahogany, sometimes described as having a blackish bloom. The apple is slightly ribbed and classically shaped, round to conical. Flavor is mild and sweet with a hint of sweet corn, vanilla, and the pure sweetness of cane sugar. The Black Oxford originates from Paris, Maine (Oxford County) about 1790.

BLUE PERMAIN

Apples Blue Pearmain 20161101_0398

The Blue Pearmain is an old New England favorite dating back to the 1700’s. No one knows where it originated, but ancient trees can still be found in the most rural areas of New England. It has a blue-purple color and the russet blaze around the stem. The medium to very large fruit is sweet with just a bit of tartness. The flesh is fairly dry, firm, dense and slightly crisp.  It is tasty eaten out of hand although the skin is rather tough so you might want to peel it first.  Blue Pearmain makes a good baked apple as its thick skin holds up perfectly

ESOPUS SPITZENBURG

esopus

Esopus Spitzenburg originated in Esopus, Ulster County, NY, in the latter part of the 18th century and is reputed to be Thomas Jefferson’s favorite dessert apple. He ordered 12 trees of the variety from William Prince’s Flushing, Long Island nursery in 1790 to plant at Monticello. “Spitz” is a large apple, oblong in shape, smooth-skinned and colored a lively, brilliant red, approaching scarlet. It is covered with small yellow specks. The yellow flesh is rich, juicy, and sprightly.

ORLEANS REINETTE

Apple Orleans Reinette 20161101_0397

Orleans Reinette is an old-fashioned 18th century French apple with a reputation for good flavor. Over time it has been known by many different names, including Winter Ribston. These apples can be found growing in the cooler climate of England as well as Oregon in the United States, and can still be found growing in areas of France. Orleans Reinette apples are medium-sized, plump apples with yellowish-green skin, orange russet, and a red blush. The skin is a rough classic russet texture, and very crunchy. Flavor has hints of sweet oranges and a nutty finish. It goes well with buttery cheeses such as raw milk Swiss-style.