Monday, February 8, 2016

A Lady in winter

a Lady Alice apple in the snowThey're available now. But are they any good?

Lady Alice made her New England debut in the spring of 2010, leaving a very favorable impression. I awarded her two stars ("worth seeking") for great texture and rich and unusual flavors.

That this variety needed to sit until March or April to reach her peak was a feature, not a bug; having something this good to bite at that time of year was a welcome treat amid the tired supermarket standards.

Starting in 2011, reports began to trickle in here of this variety for sale in February. Or, I should perhaps say, complaints: blandness, bitterness, a "chemical taste," and general dissatisfaction.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Apples in a starring role

Since I started rating apples in 2012, I’ve set aside the start of February to assess varieties tasted during the previous year. This just works better for me than rating the apples as I go.

D'Arcy Spice apple
D'Arcy Spice is worth seeking.
Seventeen of the twenty-two apples I reviewed in 2015 are getting stars this year.

In my qualitative rating scheme, one star (*) simply denotes an apple that is “worth choosing.” For 2015 welcome Cornish Aromatic, Epicure, Eureka Canyon, Kanzi, Katherine, Koru, Peace Garden, Pink Parfait, Red Astrakhan, Rockit, Spymac, Suntan, Vanilla Pippin, Waltana, and Williams.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Gleaming darkly

A trio of Arkansas Blacks gleam darkly in the January sun earlier today.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Opal vs. Junami smackdown

Today's head-to-head compares two modern varieties available in North America only briefly around the turning of the year.

Both Opal (L) and Junami were developed in Europe, and both embody balance and flavor in a way that the previous generation of commercial apples (lookin' at you Gala, Braeburn, Fuji) do not.

Other than that, these are utterly different.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Best wishes for 2016

A very happy new year from me to you.

Now at Farmers Market
I reviewed 21 apples in 2015, more than the year before and more than I'd supposed likely. The tally of my opinionated catalog stands today at 241 varieties, including a few mere sports.

After 7 years of Adam’s Apples it’s rare to discover an untried variety at Farmers Market, yet the choices at those markets continue to evolve in promising ways (Hello, Wickson!).

Many of the new 2015 apples came from you, O generous readers, some from locales with climates different from that of my own New England. I’m naturally very grateful to you all.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Rubenstars of 2015

Rubenstar apple
I had a chance to try Rubenstar again while in California, probably picked in October, 3 or 4 weeks later in the season than the 2013 samples.

These are much smaller apples (see why that might be), and very pretty. The blush is streaky red over yellow, further varigated by many light lenticels.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A lazy man’s Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tintin, in the cast-iron pan it baked in.
Tarte Tatin is the classic French apple tart, a splendid if finicky marriage of Pâte Brisée crust and Calville Blanc d'Hiver apples.

On Thanksgiving I had Calville but did not want to fuss with that crust.

So I took a leaf from Rowan Jacobsen’s book, Apples of Uncommon Character, and made his easier version, which he playfully calls “Tarte Tintin.”

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Ruby Red

Ruby Red Apple
What a show stopper! You can see why some apple breeders become obsessed with creating red-fleshed apples that also have good eating qualities.

Did they succeed with Ruby Red?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Spymac *

Spymac apple
Genius idea.

That was my first thought when I saw apples labeled "Spymac." Cross two classics, Northern Spy and McIntosh. I'll bet it's a great pie apple, too.

Spymac looks squarely in the Mac family, with a streaky-to-saturated red blush over green yellow, moderate ribbing, and large light lenticels.

Closer inspection shows a blush that is a little less purple, and less vivid, than McIntosh's.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Last call

The last farmers markets of the year will close up shop in a few hours.

Apples for sale
Last day of Farmers Market for 2015 in Davis Square, Somerville.