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Shimla apples encompass many different varieties that range in size from small to large and from round to oblate to conical in shape. The skin can be waxy, glossy, or smooth and in hues of red, green, yellow, or orange. The skin may also be solid or bi-colored with striping and blush like the apple pictured above. The flesh, depending on the variety, can be firm, pale yellow to cream-colored, juicy, crunchy, or crisp. Shimla apples range in flavors from sweet to tart and can be aromatic or mild in scent.
Shimla apples are available in the summer through fall.
Shimla apple is a broad term used to describe many different varieties of Malus domestica, but all originate from the same apple-producing region of northern India. Shimla is a region within the state of Himachal Pradesh in the Himalayan foothills. Each Shimla orchard produces apples several thousand feet above sea level, growing the fruit on small plots of flat land or terraces. The average apple yield in Shimla is approximately 500,000 metric tonnes. The apple industry, along with the rest of its horticulture, is a core part of Shimla's economy. The Shimla region of India produces a wide range of apples, from the globally-familiar red and golden delicious, to royal delicious, red gold, super chief, gale gala, washington delicious, tydeman, granny smith, babbu gosha, to other local Indian varieties.
Shimla apples are a good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, flavonoids, and antioxidants.
Shimla apples are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as roasting, poaching, and sautéing. They can be consumed fresh, out of hand, or sliced and served on cheese platters or in mixed green salads. They can also be baked and used in pies, cakes, tarts, crumbles, muffins, and bread, cooked into curries, or made into applesauce. Shimla apples can be pressed and made into juices and ciders. They will keep up to 1-3 months, depending on the specific variety, and should be stored in a cool and dark place or the refrigerator.
Himachal Pradesh is known worldwide for its variety of apples and has earned the nicknames as the “Apple State” and the “Apple Garden of India.” The Shimla apple industry attracts thousands of international tourists and locals, and they come together to visit orchards, pick apples, and, of course, sample the fruits. In addition to apples, fruits such as mangoes, pears, apricots, peaches, strawberries, cherries, plums, pomegranates, and persimmons are also grown in Himachal Pradesh.
The first European apples were brought to India by British colonialists in the 1800s, but Samuel Evan Stokes was credited as the first person to cultivate apple trees in Shimla. He planted red and golden delicious trees in Thanedar, Shimla, and sold them to the public in 1926. Since then, the Shimla region has increased its cultivation of apples and the apples can be found at specialty markets throughout India.