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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » March 31, 2011
Polska… tastes good!
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Crunchy Apples From Łącko
March 31, 2011   
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In November 2010 apples grown in the Łącko Valley, southeastern Poland, were registered by the European Commission as a protected geographical indication. This is the 23rd product registered by Polish producers under the European system that includes Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) statuses.

Products that can be sold as “apples from Łącko” include varieties called Idared, Jonagold, Champion, Ligol, Golden Delicious, Gala, Rubin, Jonagored and strains of them. The list also includes Boskoop, Red Boskoop, Elise, Early Geneve, Topaz, Lobo and Gloster apples. They have to be produced in Małopolska province within the boundaries of the following communes: Łącko, Podegrodzie, Stary Sącz and Łukowica. This area lies in the Łącko Valley (Kotlina Łącka), which has a mild climate suitable for plant cultivation. Apples from Łącko are more rosy that the average for a given variety, have very firm flesh and high acidity. Their flavor has “a green mountain overtone,” meaning they have a more distinct flavor, are more sour and aromatic than average. The firm flesh during harvesting guarantees that these apples will also stay crunchy after being properly stored over a longer period of time.

The fruit-growing tradition around Stary Sącz, Podegrodzie and Łącko dates back to the 12th century. Apparently the first orchards here were set up by Princess Kinga, wife of King Bolesław the Chaste. The local fruit (mostly plums and apples) was sent down the Dunajec River to the Vistula River and all the way to Gdańsk, from where it was taken by ship to other countries around Europe.

The Łącko orchards are also mentioned in 16th-century documents as farm and parish gardens. By the 17th and 18th centuries, the region boasted extensive apple orchards. Łącko and its environs owes its orchards to the hard work and effort of many people. The local parish priests also contributed greatly to the region’s fruit-growing success. It was said of Father Maciej Szaflarski that he ordered all betrothed couples to plant at least 10 apple trees in their gardens before they got married. Another local legend says that the penance Father Jan Piaskowy gave his parishioners was to plant fruit trees.

Apples from Łącko owe their distinctive flavor and aroma to the microclimate of the Łącko Valley. Most of the fruit grown around Łącko is exceptionally juicy and aromatic. The shape of the fruit depends on the variety. Thanks to the microclimate and the lay of the land, fruit rust is relatively rare. Most of the orchards lie on slopes with an inclination of about 15 degrees, which results in the most beneficial yearly temperature distribution.

A large part of the credit for promoting apples from Łącko is due to the Łącka Droga Owocowa (Łącko Fruit Road) Association.

The association came up with the idea of promoting the region, and its prolific yield of fruit and fruit products (including alcoholic beverages), in a way that increases direct sales from orchards. This increases farmers’ incomes and ensures job security in the region.
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