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IN SEASON

Pink Ladies in the Wings

November 11, 1998|RUSS PARSONS

Frank Logoluso and his daughter Jane Logoluso Bautista have bet the farm on a Pink Lady.

That's not a horse and it's certainly not a drink. The Pink Lady is an apple--the hottest apple in California.

After only a couple of years of commercial production, this year it has pushed aside the Red Delicious as the fourth-most popular apple grown here (first is the Granny Smith, followed by Fuji and Gala).

And given the projected growth of the harvest as new trees mature and begin to produce more apples, within a couple of years the Pink Lady could well pass Gala.

If it does, a big part of the credit will go to Logoluso and his daughter, who have more than 700 acres of them planted on their farm in the Cuyama Valley, between Bakersfield and Santa Maria.

When all of those trees come into their own in about three years, the Logolusos by themselves will be sitting on top of 40 million pounds of Pink Ladies--more than four times what is grown in the state this year.

"This is just a great apple," says Bautista. "It's got a good pink color, it's got a tart flavor when you bite into it, so Granny Smith fans love it, and it gets sweeter as you chew."

The Logolusos aren't the only Pink Lady growers in the state, but they are the only growers in the Cuyama Valley, and that seems to be important. The Cuyama is at 2,500 feet and is cooled by ocean breezes. That climate makes apples with good color that take a long time to ripen, making them especially sweet and vibrant.

Pink Ladies are also grown in the northern San Joaquin Valley, but the apples from that area that I've tasted over the last two years have not been as great as those from Cuyama.

Telling the difference between the two is difficult (the only way to be sure is to ask your produce manager where the store's apples are from). That's part of the reason the Logolusos are getting into the mail-order business. Starting next week, you can call (877) 564-6587 and get their apples shipped directly to you.

Just think of it: Pink Ladies on your doorstep.

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GOOD SENSE

The apple question that seems to confuse most people: What's the difference between a baking and an eating apple? Certainly, any apple can be eaten raw, and any apple can be baked. But apples that are specified for baking are ones that hold their shapes when cooked and don't fall into mush. Granny Smith, Jonathan, McIntosh and Rome Beauty are probably the best-known bakers.

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