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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » August 29, 2013
Regional and Traditional Products
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Sandomierz Apples
August 29, 2013   
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One in four apples grown in Poland come from the Sandomierz region, which stretches between the ¦więtokrzyskie Mountains and the Vistula River. Sandomierz apples feature on the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development’s List of Traditional Products.

The development of horticulture and fruit farming in the Sandomierz region was made possible by factors such as very fertile soil (chernozem on a loess base) and climate (a unique microclimate resulting in the longest frost-free period in Poland). In addition, the Sandomierz horticultural region lies on the boundary of two climate zones: continental and oceanic. The mutual influence of these zones strongly affects the coloring of apples and their flavor. The special taste and aroma of Sandomierz apples also comes from the even distribution of sunlight and rain in the growing season. Orchards in the Sandomierz region occupy about 38,000 hectares, of which 20,000 hectares is taken up by apples grown as a commodity crop.

The first fruit orchards in the Sandomierz region were set up in the late 12th century by the Cistercian monks next to the monastery in Koprzywnica. At first wild apple trees grew there, then trees with small fruit, such as the Reneitte, Czubatka and Kosztela varieties. In the 13th century the Dominican Order had a monastery garden with apple trees next to St. Jacob’s Church in Sandomierz and the Clarissa nuns grew apple trees in Zawichost. Historians describing the town of Sandomierz in the 17th century called it a town bathed in gardens, because almost all the townspeople had apple orchards. In the 19th century, fruit trees, apple trees among them, were planted next to every Sandomierz manor, castle or home belonging to the gentry. An important role in the spreading popularity of Sandomierz apple farming was played by Catholic priests, who were once enthusiastic supporters of fruit farming in the region.

Apples started being grown as a commodity crop near Sandomierz in the early 1920s, in several dozen localities around the region. This was when many pioneers of horticulture began setting up large-scale fruit tree nurseries from different apple tree varieties, including the Papirovka, Reinette Grise, Boiken, Kosztela, Jonathan, Bancroft, Boskoop and Cox’s Orange Pippin. Today the fruit farmers of the Sandomierz region can boast a high standard of production and great qualities of locally grown apple varieties.

The apples of the region are round, and only a few varieties—including the Gloster—are elongated. Depending on the properties of a given variety, the blush of the apples can be blurry or striped and cover half or almost the whole apple. Colors range from yellow through dark red to claret-colored. As far as size goes, the Sandomierz region usually yields apples of three standard sizes: 6.5-7 cm, 7-7.5 cm and 7.5-8 cm in diameter. The biggest specimens come from the Ligol variety, attaining diameters of up to 12-13 cm and weighing about 700 grams.

The Sandomierz Apple Exporters’ Corps was founded in 2011, its main objective being to promote the Sandomierz region’s apples at home and abroad.
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