One of the most wonderful things about a farmer's market is finding varieties of produce that you would never find in the super market. At the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market, I discovered the Red Astrachan variety of apples. This mostly green apple with red streaks, originated in Russia. There were introduced to England in 1816 and then came to the United States in 1835. This is considered an heirloom variety. They are an early apple being harvested in late July to early August.
One of the reasons why this apple will not be found in a store is that it has a short self life and supermarkets won't the exact opposite. The ones I bought are already getting soft. But I was told that these apples improve with flavor over time (that is until they rot). The trees that produce this apple are productive every other year (which also doesn't appeal to the supermarket).
My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)
Tartness : 8
Apple Flavor: 5
Sweetness: 2-5 (it seems sweeter over time)
Overall Feeling: The first apple I tried from the bunch was overwhelming tart. It wasn't so tart that I could not eat it, but probably one of the most tart apples that can still be eaten out of hand. But after 5 days the apple got a bit softer and the tartness wasn't as overwhelming. The apple flavor and sweetness seemed to improve. The drawback is that the apples are borderline becoming too soft, so I will have to finish these up quickly. Again this is way the apple is not found in stores. My 2 year old daughter enjoyed this apple. She enjoys tart fruit. She will eat really tart blackberries straight up with no sugar.
My grandfather planted a Red Astrakhan tree in the middle of his hayfield on Cape Split in South Addison, Maine sometime between 1899 and 1905. Although the tree hasn't been taken care of for fifty years it still has some apples most years. They have the most incredibly wonderful taste and no other apple I've ever tasted comes anywhere near close and I've eaten an awful lot of varieties of heirloom apples.
Deek Crowley, I agree with you. I found one apple tree with astonishingly sweet, aromatic, balanced and crispy apples in an old Russian's property I bought and have been searching the name if this WOW apple since then. It must be Astrachan or very similar to it. The best apple I have ever eaten, just love it.