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Kaiser Wilhelm Apples
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The Kaiser Wilhelm is a very large, round, distinctive-looking apple. The skin is greenish-yellow overlaid with red-orange stripes on the side growing toward the sun, similar in appearance to the Golden Reinette. The cream-colored flesh is crisp and fine textured. Freshly harvested fruits have more juice—they dry out with storage. The flavor is balanced between sweet, acidic, and sour, with a spicy, nutty taste.
Kaiser Wilhelm apples are available in the late fall through winter.
The Kaiser Wilhelm apple (Malus domestica) is an early 19th century German variety. It may be a seedling of Harberts Reinette, though its parentage is not known for sure. The tree is vigorous and disease resistant, making it a good garden variety. Kaiser Wilhelm is the same apple as the Peter Brioch variety, although it is better known under the former name.
Eating apples regularly can help promote a healthy heart and digestive system, and help prevent chronic disease, thanks to vitamins and minerals. Apples contain approximately 17% of the daily recommended intake of fiber, along with smaller amounts of Vitamin C and potassium. Kaiser Wilhelm apples specifically have a high polyphenol content, which allows those who are generally allergic to apples to enjoy this variety.
The Kaiser Wilhelm is primarily a dessert apple, though it is also a useful variety for juicing and baking into cakes. Pair with sweet ingredients in baked goods, like caramel, honey, raisins, and nuts, or savory ingredients such as pork and cabbage for dinner recipes. Kaiser Wilhelm apples can be stored until the early spring.
There are thousands of German antique apple varieties, including Kaiser Wilhelm, though modern commercialization have led to the disappearance of many of them over time. In the past, households would often grow their own apples, and towns would maintain their own public orchards. Today, markets carry many fewer varieties that are better suited for shipping, though the German government and some orchardists are working to preserve some of the old varieties.
Because Kaiser Wilhelm is the same apple as Peter Brioch, this variety has a somewhat complicated history. The original apple was discovered as a seedling by vicar and apple grower Johann Wilhelm Schumacher in 1824, in Höningen, Germany; he named it Peter Brioch. Several years later, in 1864, a teacher named Carl Hesselman believed he discovered a new apple in nearby Witzhelden, which was actually Peter Brioch. He named his supposed discovery after the German leader, Kaiser Wilhelm (who supposedly later tasted and enjoyed his namesake). The variety was commercialized and spread under the name Kaiser Wilhelm.