History buff and Slow Food activist Ed Yowell found his two passions combined in the Newtown Pippin, New York City’s only indigenous apple. This homely apple from Queens has become a cause célèbre among the biodiversity crowd. And there’s a valid argument to be made that New York’s Big Apple should be green not red. Well + Good recently chatted with Ed about this apple’s enduring appeal (Thomas Jefferson raved about the Newtown Pippin) and why you’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the future.
WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT THE NEWTOWN PIPPIN?
In terms of both taste and biodiversity, it’s a special apple that gets marginalized because it’s a biennial fruit, meaning it has off years. It was also the nation’s founding apple and was a popular American export historically.
WHY HASN’T THE NEWTOWN PIPPIN GOTTEN THE LOVE IT DESERVES?
We’re trying to bring back apple sophistication. Take the Red Delicious apple–it’s crunchy, drippy and sweet and kids love them–but apples can be so much more interesting. The Newtown Pippin is piney and tart; it’s green-yellow and often lopsided. Not a conventionally attractive apple.
WHERE CAN YOU BUY THEM?
Starting in November you can buy them at the Union Square Greenmarket from both Locust Grove Farms (Wednesdays) or Samascott Orchards (Fridays). Also, Peter Hoffman at Savoy occasionally cooks with them. Right now there aren’t enough Newtown Pippins to satisfy demand, but through our free sapling program more trees are being grown in and around the city. Just as once-maligned heirloom tomatoes have become popular in recent years, I envision the same kind of renaissance for the Newtown Pippin.
Have you ever tried a Newtown Pippin? Tell us, here!