Saturday, October 11, 2008

Stayman *

Also known as Stayman Winesap, though the Winesap is a different (and even older) variety.

These run medium to large and have a deep red blush that is matte rather than glossy, freckled with light spots. The Stayman I am sampling today is on the large side and is oddly asymmetrical--from one angle its profile describes a rough parallelogram. It sits nice and firm in my hand.

The flesh is a creamy off-white, not as fine-grained as McIntosh and its offspring, crisp but yielding, and a little dense. You chew a bite of Stayman a bit longer.

The flavor is well-balanced and cidery. Sweet and tart are in good proportion, but the dominant impression is mellow, with just a hint of acidity. There are pear notes, and a lingering suggestion of spice in the finish. Not bad!

In some respects the simple and direct flavor suggests that of Melrose, but unlike that variety Stayman is both less sweet and is balanced by a little tartness. That difference alone makes it a better apple with a lively flavor.

Update November 2011: I just had one of these I'd been hanging onto for more than a month. It was really first rate, wonderfully crisp and juicy, spicy and with some savory Winesap-like goodness I'd missed in October.

Stayman ages well. I wish I had a few more!


All About Apples says Stayman was discovered in Kansas in 1875. (Wikipedia, without citation, says 1866.) Beth Hanson (among others) asserts that Stayman is a seedling offspring of the true Winesap.

2 comments:

  1. Write what you know. Very cool indeed. I'm looking forward to reading through all your back posts.(I was getting tired of all the political chitchat at the LRY yahoo group anyway.) I was an Ohio boy. Grew up in the middle of nowhere in south west corner of the state. There were the remnants of early apple orchards all over that part of the state. All gone by now I'm sure. I remember one fall going with my dad to a historical farm north of Dayton, Ohio. They had preserved and expanded the original orchard that had begun there back in the 1800's. It was pretty rough and not well pruned. But, almost every tree seemed to be a different variety of apple. It was sort of a hidden treasure. I don't think most visitors even knew it was there. I can still remember the wonder and joy I felt at finding this little time capsule and tasting a dozen different kinds of apples in short order. No labels of any kind, so I had no idea what I was tasting. The world is full of little miracles, all you have to do is keep your eyes open and step off the beaten path. Thanks for prompting the recall of a wonderful memory.
    Roger Smart rogsmart@yahoo.com

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  2. Roger, thank you. Most of my postings are descriptions of apples, and I fear that en masse they are repetative to the point of monotony: shape-blush-flesh-taste, the same form even though each variety is different.

    Writing them that way is making me a more mindful and appreciative taster, athough, and will be useful next year when I am deciding what to buy. So I'm glad youy enjoy them too.

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