Calville Blanc d'Hiver
Why you should be excited
One bite of a Calville Blanc d'Hiver and you're transported to 16th century France.
The story of Calville Blanc d'Hiver
Is Calville Blanc d'Hiver the world's ugliest apple? Well, likely not, as there are some pretty mangled looking varieties out there. But let's be honest: this one isn't going to win a Red Delicious look-alike competition anytime soon.
This is a notably old variety, although not nearly the oldest in the thousands-of-years history of apples. Still, 1598 was some time ago. And the folks who discovered Calville Blanc d'Hiver in France way back then might be proud to know people are still debating the merits of this misshapen yet sublime apple well over 400 years later.
Calville Blanc d'Hiver may actually be the world's top cooking apple, although folks from across the English Channel may clear their throats politely and subtly point to Bramley's Seedling as their preference in that department.
We've got nothing against Bramley, but wish to point out that Calville Blanc d'Hiver not only holds its shape well when baked; it also delivers a tender, sweet, juicy, delicate, spicy flavour that causes apple aficionados to swoon. It even has a banana-like aroma, some say.
In addition to its baking excellence, this variety is well known for its incredibly high vitamin C content, greater than that of an orange of similar size, they say.
Sure, it's a dog to look at, sickly pale green in colour sometimes with wonky pox-like red dots on its skin. But those who have been weened of expecting every apple to look symmetrical and perfect might just see a rustic beauty to it. And regardless of its looks, the book behind this cover is truly sublime, so we're happy to grow lots and lots of Calville Blanc d'Hiver for folks who know better than to reject an apple at first sight.
Calville Blanc d'Hiver Facts
Discovered in France or maybe Germany, unknown date; first recorded in 1598.
Flavour, aroma, texture
Tender, sweet, juicy, spicy. Delicate, banana-like aroma. Unusually high in vitamin C.
Dead ugly, some believe. Misshapen, pale green skin colour, sometimes with light red dots.
When they’re available
Late season (usually toward the end of October).
Quality for fresh eating
Quality for cooking
Excellent – holds its shape when cooked.
Quality for cider
While thought of most as a cooking apple, Calville Blanc d'Hiver also has a longstanding reputation for being very good in cider.
So-so (about 1 to 2 months when kept refrigerated).