Antonovka or Antonówka is a group of late-fall or early-winter apple cultivars with a strong acid flavor that have been popular in Russia (Soviet Union and the Russian Empire) as well as in Poland. The most popular Russian variety is Common Antonovka (Антоновка обыкновенная), from which other cultivars are derived. In Poland, there are two varieties: Antonówka Zwykła (same, as in Russia) and Antonówka Biała also known as Śmietankowa (Antonówka White or Creamy) with considerably larger and whiter fruit ripening in late September, but also a shorter shelf-life.
Its popularity is explained by the Antonovka's ability to sustain long harsh winters typical for some regions of Eastern Europe and Russia and for its superior fruit preservation qualities. Sometimes nicknamed "the people's apple" (народное яблоко), the Russian variety was especially popular among the dacha owners, and remains widely grown at dachas in many Post-Soviet states. Due to the relatively low ratio of sugars in the fruit, Antonovka apples are especially well-suited for apple pies and late apple wine. The taste of the wine is noticeably lighter than wine from sweeter cultivars. In Poland, Antonówka is used mostly for apple preserves.
Antonovka is a cultivar of vernacular selection, which began to spread from Kursk region of Russia in the 19th century. While the fruit-bearing trees have not received a wide recognition outside the former Soviet Union, many nurseries do use Antonovka rootstocks, since they impart a degree of winter-hardiness to the grafted varieties.
On August 19, 2008 the monument to Antonovka apple was unveiled in Kursk. The sculpture was by Vyacheslav Klykov and has a diameter of 1.5 meter. Ivan Bunin's early short story, Antonov Apples (1900), is a kind of ode to this apple cultivar as a lyric metaphor to the departing world of Russian landed gentry.
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Notes and references
- Mgr Marta Dziubiak, SADOWNICTWO: "MODA NA STARE ODMIANY JABŁONI (II)", Szkółkarstwo January 2005
- Elena Kalashnikova, Natalia Frolova (2011-09-26). Патриотические яблоки (in Russian). newtimes.ru. Retrieved 2011-11-08.
- Lilia Haritonova (2008-08-27). Куряне трогают яблоко удачи (in Russian). Newspaper «Курский вестник». Retrieved 2011-11-01.