You are in for a real treat this week and next as you discover (or re-discover!) the Sansa apple. Don’t let the unassuming, “unattractive” appearance of this gem fool you. Remember the old adage, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’. Here at North Star, you are wise to do likewise with fruit appearance.
We planted our first Sansa trees about 18 years ago and pretty quickly realized it was a high quality apple which was difficult to grow to perfection. Now in 2017 we have 80 trees in production. This year we have produced one of our best-flavored and abundant crops of Sansa ever. When I walk my dogs around the farm in the evening, it is currently my favorite snack apple. They are so delicious and easy to eat, I can eat two or three just walking around the farm. And I’m pretty particular when it comes to apple flavor…so I hope you’ll appreciate this ugly duckling as much as I do.
And now, for a bit of true apple “geekery”:
The Sansa apple variety resulted from a cross of Akane x Gala. Akane is a cross of Jonathan (a high quality apple with good adaptation to American growing conditions) and Worcester Pearmain (a high quality apple with excellent disease resistance). Gala is a cross of Kidd’s Orange Red (a high quality cross of Cox’s Orange Pippin and Golden Delicious) and Red Delicious (a low quality easy-to-grow commercial type apple). Most of Sansa’s pedigree (parents and grandparents) are high quality apple varieties.
Sansa is sweet, fruity and moderately juicy with tender, breaking flesh (crispy in apple grower terms). In excellent growing seasons, Sansa is a beautiful bright pinkish red with yellow background color. In poor quality growing seasons (like 2017), it can be less colored and have patches of brown russet. Cool, wet weather this spring just after bloom time took an already ho-hum looking apple and made it (in commercial grocery-store terms) VERY “ugly”.
Honestly, the trees which produce these wonderful apples are some of the sorriest looking trees here on the farm. They have pale, unhealthy looking foliage and difficult to train branch angles. They are prone to trying to grow more fruit than they can possibly ripen, which requires intervention to produce high quality fruit, in the form of thinning off excess fruit by hand.
Flavor? Sansa are “outstanding in their field”!
Enjoy every last “ugly” bite!