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The Annurca Apple

The “Queen of Apples.” That’s how the Annurca apple is known in the apple world and it’s probably an apple you’ve never even heard of before. But it’s worth knowing about, especially if you’re interested in very old varieties of fruits.

Are you intrigued now and want to know more? Then you’ve come to the right place! In this article you’ll learn everything there is to know about these long-lasting fruits that age like a fine wine…or a cider, perhaps. Read on to discover important things to know about the Annurca apple!

Annurca apples in a cloth-lined basket or bowl.

History of the Annurca Apple

These apples originated in Southern Italy and are still found there today. Annurca apples are one of the oldest apple varieties in the world, and a couple authors suggest they might be the oldest. Some theorize that these apples appear in writings by Pliny the Elder, a Roman author, as early as the year 79. While there’s no way to truly confirm this claim, it’s a fascinating piece of knowledge nonetheless.

An Annurca apple slice.

Characteristics of the Annurca Apple

Appearance of the Annurca Apple

The Annurca apple certainly shows its ancient roots. Its skin is mottled and waxy, showing off classic red striping with hints of brownish-yellow and green showing through. They’re fairly petite apples, resembling slightly flattened ovals, and the fruit inside is gleaming white.

Though they’re not always the most appealing to the eye, don’t let the outside fool you! These slow-ripening fruits are known to be some of the most delicious among the host of other apples available to consumers.

Closeup of an Annurca apple growing on a tree.
The Annurca apple.

Taste of the Annurca Apple

Thanks to the Annurca apple’s unusual harvesting process, its flavor is described as fragrant and sweet, with a hint of an acidic bite. These apples are picked before they ripen in early fall and arranged on straw or wood chip beds, where they continue the ripening process in the sun throughout the autumn months. This slow aging allows for a strong perfume and a distinctive taste that sets the Annurca apart from most other apples.

Annurca apples spread on straw to continue ripening after picking.
Annurca apples undergo a unique ripening process on beds of straw.

Annurca Apple Tree Traits

These trees prefer their environment somewhat elevated, thriving best in hilly or mountainous terrain. As they bear a fruit that’s harvested later in the year, these trees hold up well even in colder conditions, though it’s suggested that they’re kept away from areas with particularly strong winds. Most recommend pruning the tree after the harvest season is over, sometime in the early summer.

Unripe Italian apples on a tree.

Uses for the Annurca Apple

Snacking

Apples always make for a delicious and hearty snack, but there’s an added advantage to choosing this particular variety over other apples—they have a whole host of health benefits to offer! They’re known to be anti-inflammatory, good for the heart, and good to help lower cholesterol, as well as boasting all kinds of other medically advantageous traits.

If you’re a skeptic of the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” try these ones on for size. This is one apple that might truly live up to the promise to keep doctors at bay!

A pile of Annurca apples, one cut in half.

Cooking

Annurca apples are perfect for use in any classic apple dessert, from pies to crumbles to pastries to jams. We recommend testing them out in this Annurca apple crumble, our apple coffee cake, or our healthy apple muffins! Because of their numerous health benefits, substituting these apples into your dessert recipes is a quick and easy way to take the guilt out of indulging. Just consider them as a much more appealing type of vitamin. (No, really—the Annurca apple contains a whole host of vitamins, including vitamin B1, C, B2, and others!)

These apples aren’t just useful for baked goods, either—they can be taken and turned into all kinds of other things, such as cider or vinegar. If these apples happen to go rotten during their post-picking ripening, it’s no real loss—these versatile fruits can also be utilized in the creation of a particular kind of alcohol called Annurca apple liqueur. The delicate, aromatic taste makes it perfect for adding an extra splash of apple flavor to drinks such as an Apple Bees Knees, a Harvest Apple Ginger Spritz, or our Apple Cider Rye cocktail recipe!

There’s no end to what recipes you can innovate with the addition of Annurca to the mix, from sweet to savory to spirituous. Let your creativity run wild!

Overhead view of an apple tart.

When is the Annurca Apple in season?

Though Annurca season technically stretches from autumn to early summer, they’re considered a winter apple. Because of the prolonged ripening process, even though these apples are typically picked sometime in October, they’re left to ripen until closer to December, making them a great choice for winter holiday treats! Pies, spiced ciders, pastries, stocking stuffers…the only limit is your imagination.

Of course, they’re not limited to the holidays, as well-suited as they are to satisfying your sweet tooth while you cozy up by the fireplace. Thanks to the broad span of their season, you can enjoy Annurca apple treats well into the summer months if you so wish!

Overhead view of old variety of red apples on a table.

Can I Grow the Annurca Apple At Home?

Alas, that’s not likely to happen. The Annurca remains most abundant in the country of its origin, and it can be found growing in the Campania area of Italy, including the town of Avellino and the city of Salerno. Despite this apple’s popularity abroad, it seems to not have made it to the US quite yet; it doesn’t appear that Annurca tree saplings are even available to be purchased here.

Where To Buy Annurca Apples

Since Annurcas aren’t grown in the US yet, the apples aren’t going to be found here either. However, if you ever make a trip out to Italy, be sure you take advantage of the opportunity to taste these wondrous fruits of royal caliber. From all the incredible things being said about them, they could be worth the trip all on their own!

Final Thoughts on the Annurca Apple

Annurca apples in a brown paper bag.

It seems a bit cruel to tell you about such an amazing apple like the Annurca when you can’t go out and buy some to try at home. But now that we have told you all about this venerable pome, if you should happen to come across Annurca apples, you’ll know to seize the opportunity and get one for yourself!

Did we answer all your questions about the Annurca apple? Have you ever had the opportunity to taste one of these fruits descended from an ancient “royal” line? Let us know in the comments below! To read about other apple varieties, click here for our apple blog posts.