Monday, December 15, 2014


Watercore in a Lady Apple. Click for close-up.
Eat enough apples and you are sure to encounter watercore: strangely translucent, glassy flesh super-saturated with juice and sugar.

You'd think juiciness would be a straightforward trait specific to each apple variety.

Coarse-grained apples, with large cells, hold more juice than fine-graned, smaller-cell breeds. Watermelon vs potato.

Sometimes however things get a little haywire and the tree forces water, tree-sap really, into the apple so fast that some of it ends up between the cells.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Apples on the Web: New England Apples

Where better to locate a regional focus on apples than my own New England? (Pardon my parochialism!)

Photo: NASA
And who better to write on that topic than the former director of the New England Apple Grower's Association (and its current senior writer), Russell Powell?

Powell, who has penned two books about apples, publishes and writes New England Apples.

It's an uncluttered blog that also features apple photos (and writing) by Bar Lois Weeks, the Association's current Executive Director.

These columns blend commentary, recipes, history, and description with an emphasis on the first of these.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Aurora vs. Mutsu smackdown

Two crisp, light, apples with almost attenuated flavors. The idea for this match up felt obvious from the moment I had my first Aurora earlier this year.

Aurora Golden Gala (R) meets a yellow late-season Mutsu. (Mutsu is often sold green.)
Aurora is premium-sized, what you'd find in a supermarket, and Mutsu is just huge. (The photo understates Mutsu's size.) So, a lot of apple to eat at one sitting!

But I ran into some surprises at first bite.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sweet Winter Pennock

These hayseed-handsome apples are medium and large, a little conical and a little blocky and a little ribbed.

The cheerful orange-red blush runs from streaky to saturated but covers most of a subdued yellow-green.

Russet-colored lenticels are prominent in the blush, and there's a copper-and-green russet at the crown and in crackles down the side.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The wet and chilly end of things

The last outdoor market of the year ended in rain and slush in Davis Square, Somerville, earlier today.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Barnack Beauty

These run medium to large, round, unribbed, and with a modest conical taper. They are just a little flattened at the poles.
The stem well is shallow and the larger apple has a "Roman nose," a fold that juts like a little causeway into the moat around the stem.

There manages to be a tiny crown of russet about the top too, brown copper.

The orange-red blush is streaky and subdued, but covers the similarly subdued green peel nearly everywhere to some extent. Barnack has many small light lenticels that are not at all obvious against this background.

In hand, the Beauty is a nice firm compact apple with a wide-open calyx and the faint scent of cut grass.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

How much is a story worth?

Stories have worth, of the "priceless" variety. But do they also have cash value?

I don't mean storytelling, which is a craft and an art that, thank goodness, people pay for. I mean the stories themselves.

This blog is largely about the stories that apples have, so the question interests me. And as it happens I have a story about that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Razor Russet

The russet that jackets this medium-sized classically shaped apple is fine-textured and a little translucent.

It coats every part of the apple with a thin golden mustard shell that has some olive-green highlights. Greenish lenticels are prominent and large.

The small blushed area is smooth and tinted orange and brown. There are a few faint longitudinal green stripes beneath the russet.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Virginia Beauty

Today's apple is a daughter of the South, but mine grew in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.

Apples have their own territories, but I can only taste what I have.

Today that is two of these oblate, slightly conical apples grown far north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

A dull red blush covers about half the surface over spring green. Large light lenticels are striking, as is an iridescent coppery sheen reflecting from the peel's satiny finish.

Virginia has an open calyx, a thick stem, and no aroma.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ramsdell Sweet

Running from medium to the smaller end of large, these classically shaped apples have a streaky red blush.

Save for a few dark stripes the blush comes off as more orange than red over the underlying yellow.

Many light lenticels further enliven this variegated exterior. There is almost no ribbing.

Ramsdell has a sweet cidery aroma and an open calyx. There's a bit of russet in the stem well, which is deep. The peel is moderately glossy, and there is a little give in the squeeze.