Monday, November 30, 2009

Wickson ***

"Is that a really tiny apple or a really big cherry?"--my daughter's reaction to Wickson, which is either a small apple or a large crab.

With its bright saturated red blush (over a yellow not unlike that of a Rainier cherry), round, slightly elongated shape, and long stem, this small apple bears more than a passing resemblance to that fruit. Its skin is glossy and the small fruit is firm.

Wickson has coarse light-yellow flesh that is juicy and wonderfully crisp. It is well-balanced, tartness predominating but tempered by sugar, and with distinct malt-sugar notes.

This is not a flavor I have encountered in any other apple and I wonder what kind of cider these would produce. In any case they make an excellent snack, full of snap and spice--but each is just a few bites. I found myself gnawing every eatable scrap of these little gems.

Trees of Antiquity says that Wickson was named for a famous California pomologist, and that it is indeed a "perfect cider apple." Vintage Virginia Apples, among other sources, says that Wickson is bred from Newtown Pippin and Esopus Spitzenberg, two wonderful antique varieties. This was an inspired cross. (Update: But see this comment below).

14 comments:

  1. Wickson is one of our more reliable apples; they ripen late enough to miss the mid-fall heat and always set a good crop. People are expecting them to be tart like a crab, but instead like you knibble them down to the core as the flesh is crisp and very flavorful.

    You are correct in suspecting they would make great cider, as they were bred by Albert Etter just for that purpose.

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  2. I have a Wickson tree and love it. Just one thing; don't leave it on the tree too long or it gets mushy.

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  3. At least a few sources think that while Etter wrote down Spitzenberg x Newtown as the parent of Wickson Crab, he wasn't referring to the famous cultivars Esopus Spitzenberg and Newtown Pippin, but of his own crab cultivars, Spitzenberg Crab and Newtown Crab.

    http://www.orangepippintrees.com/crab-apple-trees/wickson-crab
    http://www.greenmantlenursery.com/fruit/etter-apples.htm

    I tried searching the USPTO database but I couldn't find the original patent to verify.

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    1. You see, this is why I blog. How else would I ever learn about stuff like this?

      Many thanks, Jinzo.

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  4. I thought you would enjoy reading some of the research and comments about this apple variety from the NYS AgEx station. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/acc/display.pl?1012832

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    1. Ha! Astringent, acid, worthless. I can't wait until my grows big enough to set fruit!

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  5. Excellent haunting flavor. My tree produced for the first time last year. But agreed that they do seem to soften perhaps sooner than some other and here in VA the *&^% stinkbugs seem to love them. Thanks for taking the time write the apple reviews, I enjoy reading them and comparing to others and my opinions.

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    1. I find they are not bad keepers if refrigerated.

      Your stinkbugs have excellent taste.

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  6. This is my all time favorite apple. The first time I took a bite, it just completely blew my mind. SO tart, SO spicy, SO aromatic, SO sweet. It's like the flavor of 5 regular amazing apples packed into one tiny package. Another one which I've only ever from a friend who picked it at Poverty Lane in NH. He says many years they don't have any. And that its small size makes it kind of a pain to pick any quantity of them.

    BTW - awesome blog, thanks for putting this together!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Holly!

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    2. I got a bag of Wickson this season, after an amazingly hot summer. They had 21 Brix and far more flavor to accompany the acid than I'd been expecting. They seem to shine Out West. Gotta get this growing in the area for cider!

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  7. The Cidery Wandering Aengus made a single varietal cider out of Wickson Crabs, very good!

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    1. I special-ordered their Wickson cider a few years ago, as it could not be found in local stores, and I was a bit disappointed. I liked their "Bloom" and "Dry Oaked" better.

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