They are fragrant, small to medium-sized apples, oval shaped, and often somewhat flattened. They have an average weight of 3 oz (100 g), and an average width of 2 1/4 inches (6 cm.)
Annurca Apples have smooth, waxy, thick greenish-yellow skin ripening to streaked red, with russetting around the stem area.
Inside, they have firm, crispy, white juicy flesh.
They have very good flavour that is neither overly sweet nor sharp.
Annurca Apples are harvested by hand under PGI rules. The harvest is done in October while the apples are still green with streaks of red. A variety called “Annurca Rossa del Sud” (Southern Red Annurca) is more yellow when harvested.
The apples are laid to ripen in the sun on the ground in beds composed of wood chips or pine needles called “melai.” Hemp straw, called “cannutoli” used to be used. Nets are suspended about 7 feet (2 metres) above the beds to protect them from too much sun, and hailstones. The apples are turned occasionally, and let ripen 20 to 50 days until the skin is 90 to 100% red.
The apple has PGI status (applied for in 2005), under the name of “Melannurca Campana IGP.” The status applies to both the main variety and to “Annurca Rossa del Sud”, as well as to a subvariety, “bella del Sud” (“beauty of the South.”)
Annurca Apples are used for making desserts, and for cider and vinegar.
Some think they recognize Annurca Apples in frescoes found in Herculaneum in the “Casa dei Cervi.” The PGI application of 2005 states the belief that the Romans grew these apples in the Pozzuoli area, which the Romans knew as the “Phlegraean Fields.”
Literature & Lore
In November, an Annurca Apple Festival is held in Valle di Maddaloni.
Annurca Apples are presumed to be the apple that Pliny the Elder in his Natural History called “Mala Orcula.” He called it this because it grew in the “Orco” region, where hell was presumed to be. “Mala Orcula” evolved into “anorcola” and “annorcola”, and by 1876 appeared in writing as “annurca.”