Ark of Taste
Hauer Pippin Apple
Described by tasters as spicy, clove-like, and sweet, the Hauer Pippin is a round to flat-round, medium to large apple with a thick skin that blushes a rich red very late in the season. The creamy to yellowish white flesh is juicy with very high sugars and relatively low acidity even after several weeks of storage. Enjoying international popularity when first discovered, the Hauer apple lost its late-ripening competitive advantage to other earlier-maturing varieties with the advent of improved apple storage.
The Hauer Pippin apple originated in Aptos, Santa Cruz County, California during the 1890s. As the story goes, Peter Hauer discovered a chance seedling growing along the road next to Claus Speckles’ summer house in Aptos. Near the seedling in Speckles’ garden was a Cox Orange Pippin, a famous English apple, and a Yellow Bellflower apple tree. It is believed that the Hauer Pippin apple is a seedling of these varieties.
During its heyday, Hauer orchards were planted throughout Santa Cruz County and the apple earned the nickname “Christmas Apple” in San Francisco because it ripened in late November. Peter Hauer shipped Hauer apples to England, where they were received in March and sold at a premium.
With the advent of improved apple storage, Hauer apples lost their competitive advantage to earlier-ripening varieties that stored well. Over time, Hauer orchards were abandoned and replanted with other apple varieties, wine grapes or berries. By 2001 there were only three commercial nursery sources listed by Seed Savers Exchange.
Today, with the help of the Slow Food USA chapter in Monterey Bay, farmers are starting to plant the trees again in Santa Cruz County and the apple is making a comeback. Recent small plantings of 50 to 200 trees have been planted to meet the growing local demand and additional plantings are being made in other areas of California.
The Hauer apple’s resistance to disease and insects make it easier to produce organically than most commercial varieties and it satisfies a local need for a late-ripening apple that can be direct-marketed by small to medium sized fruit growers. This very fine dessert apple is well suited to a variety of uses.
Photos courtesy of Ben Watson