Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Scarlet Crofton

This old Irish apple has a marvelous painterly look, with Celtic knots of russet, lenticels, and sooty blotch dancing across the red-blushed peel.

I got seven heritage apples to try at Cider Days on November 4, and this is the gnarliest.

Sunday, November 12, 2017


This small, slightly oblate apple, perhaps 2 inches across, is ribbed, sometimes extremely so. It has a streaky red blush over light yellow, tinted orange where the blush is thin. The lenticels are effectively invisible.

I have two samples that bear a sweet cider aroma.

In early November, Benoni's flesh is soft and yielding, on its way to mealy but with plenty of miles left before it gets there. It turns out that Benoni is a summer apple.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Red- and pink-fleshed apples are experiencing a moment right now, though the effect is sometimes muted by climate.

Many of these varieties (but not all) need an environment milder than ours to develop their internal colors fully.

Still Surprise's pink marbling is striking.

On the outside, this medium-sized apple, ribbed, alternates yellow-green, green yellow, and a light orange pink.

Is that last a blush, or does it relate to places where pink flesh lies immediately beneath the glossy peal? The surface is decorated with brown lenticel dots.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


With its magenta-tinged red blush and prominent lentical spots, this large, round, slightly flattened apple reminds me visually of Opalescent. (Some are tapered.)

Pretty RosaLynn's shiny blush is streaky in places, but coverage is very good. The unblushed yellow region of the apple in the photo above shows where, probably, another apple cast its shadow.

These have deep stem wells and minor but real ribbing. Mine came all the way from Washington State. Enroute they lost any aroma they might normally have off the tree.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Crow Egg

Wouldn’t it be handy if apples came labeled? Someone wrote “Crow Egg” on the top of mine with a sharpie. That's the mark of having lots of apples and wanting to keep things straight.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Frostbite vs. Wickson smackdown

This head-to-head became inevitable the moment I first tasted malty Frostbite. Wickson has some similar flavors and qualities, and both make weighty historical claims.

One thing that might not be obvious from my photo is that these apples are both small. Frostbite is about 2 inches in diameter, and Wickson is a large crabapple.

But which is best?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Cue's Favorite

Joe Podles, who lives here in Massachusetts, named this apple (after "Cue," his dad) and has grafted it for other growers.

Back in the day, that would have been enough to make Cue's Favorite a full-fledged named variety.

In 1880, there might have been a report about Cue's Favorite in the proceedings of some horticultural society, and that would be that.

Perhaps Spencer Beech would have collected it into his book, the Apples of New York, in 1909—without as much as a single plant patent, trademark, apple club, or or Twitter account in sight.

But today this pleasing apple has no such status, and Cue's Favorite is but a nickname.

Which means, gentle reader, that your options for finding this apple are limited.

More on all of that below the fold.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Winesap vs. Stayman Smackdown

At farmers market, careless vendors sometimes confuse these two varieties, which are thought to be related (Stayman, son of Winesap). But they are not the same.

How then does each stack up against the other?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


“Bonkers” is a nickname for this otherwise nameless apple, but one that is used widely.

These can get positively huge, but I bought two that are merely conventionally large (one a little runty, in fact). Why: it’s mid October and I have to leave room to eat more apples.

The apple in the photo is squat and trapezoidal. Its cross section from the top is oval, rather than round. Turns out there is a reason behind the odd shape, though they aren’t all like that.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Leathercoat feast

Ashmead's Kernel, Roxbury Russet, and Golden Russett. When you see these three gentlemen, you know that the heart of the harvest has arrived.

Join me for a taste.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

A boom in heritage apples, in the UK

The Guardian, in a story published on Apple Day (today), describes

a burgeoning movement of growers and enthusiasts using old books and modern DNA testing to identify, propagate, and popularise Britain’s wealth of rare apples.

According to the story,

Britain is enjoying a remarkable apple boom, as hundreds of new community orchards revive lost varieties and contribute to a thriving heritage market.

These include many varieties not catalogued by the National Fruit Collection.

One organization even employs an Apple Diversity Officer. Now, there's a job to dream on!

Gather ye Apples while ye May

The scene at the Union Square (Somerville) farmers market earlier today.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Is there a fitter name for an apple that is cold-hardy down to −40° F? (The tree, not the fruit.)

But the best thing? It's really good.