I visited five farm stands in Sebastopol on Saturday and compared the Gravensteins from each. They were all selected to have a similar degree of ripeness … red eating stage rather than the tarter green cooking stage.
IMO ... usually ... for optimal eating, not only should Gravensteins be red, but there should be streaks of yellow or even bronze. Those are the sweetest. Yet the winner of my taste-off didn't meet those standards.
Another consideration besides price was appearance. Some had more blemishes than others. Some were crispier. Some were organic, some weren’t.
One apple stood way above the pack and it surprised me. It was the least red. It was the most expensive. It was organic. It was Kozlowski.
No wonder their Gravenstein cider was so wonderful.
This was one of the best apples I’ve had since moving to the Bay Area from New England.
Blindfolded I might have guessed it was a Macintosh. It was the only apple that was really fragrant. There was the perfect crunch biting into it. It was juicy with a nice tanginess backed by sweetness. They were the best appearance-wise with no blemishes.
Apple Adventures in Forestville: Sensational sale at Kozlowski Farms http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/641373
The rest of the apples, were similar and I might make the decision on price, appearance or other factors
Gravensteins from K & K Orchard
Ok, I might choose these next. The large apples had a nice appearance with no blemishes. There was a nice crunch biting into them and they were juicier than most. There are some conventionally grown apples for a lesser price, but I didn’t try those.
Gravenstein apples at The Schoch's
$2 for about two dozen small
These were sweet, some with golden blushes. They all had an attractive appearance with no blemishes. They didn’t have the crunchy, crispness of the Kozlowski apples and were not as juicy as K & K, but made a nice snacking apple and were a good price.
Walker Apples, Graton
Don’t know if these are organic or not.
These were medium and despite little blushes of red, they were really still at the cooking stage so it is hard to judge them on flavor as an eating apple. They did have the most blemishes though so I’m guessing they were organic. I might go back later in the season for the Gravensteins or during Sept/Oct to try one of the 26 other varieties.
Apple Adventures in Sebastopol: Gravensteins 50 cents lb at Gudino Produce Stand http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/641521
50 cents lb
Despite being red, they were still more in the cooking stage of ripeness. They were very tart and more hard than crisp. For the price they would be good to consider for cooking. They weren’t as juicy as the others but the appearance was good with no blemishes.
An extra note … Berkeley Bowl has their own brand of unsweetened Gravenstein apple sauce on sale this week for $1.69. It has a very nice taste and texture and I recommend it.