Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Well kept

I finished the season in November with a stash of apples that I hoped would keep well: Baldwin, Golden Russet, Arkansas Black, and Blushing Golden.

These varieties all have reputations as good keepers. Some are said to improve with age.

By supplementing them with supermarket Macouns that have been carefully stored, I have enjoyed an agreeable and varied apple diet.

Rather than periodically revise my reviews of these fruits ("two months out and still crispy!"), here is how this experiment has fared.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Apples on the Web: Fruit Slinger

In June of 2007, a journalist named Dan began blogging his experience working at an heirloom fruit farm in Illinois and selling the fruit at farmers markets in Chicago.

I didn't discover Fruit Slinger until last fall, at which point I was already blogging about eating heirloom (and other) fruit and buying same at farmers market.

The appeal for me is obvious, but I also commend Fruit Slinger to you, dear reader, both for its often-luscious photographs and the quality of its writing. I think of it as a companion blog to this one, in a way (flattering myself in the process).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Arkansas Black *

Arkansas Black is a Southern apple and I am fortunate to have found some growing right here in Massachusetts.

These run on the small side of medium and have a dull blush that runs to deep purplish red on the sunward side, with small light lenticels. The unblushed skin is yellow, and there is a little crown of russet around the stem well.

The apple is very firm and, for its size, heavy, with only a very faint apple aroma.

The flesh is fine-grained, yellow, very crisp, and dense. Arkansas Black might cut the redoubtable Blue Pearmain, not that I have one to compare. The fruit is reasonably juicy but has so much matter that the juice gives out before the apple, leaving a dry impression. It oxidizes quickly when cut. And, it's really filling.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Apple pancake

Famous in pies, turnovers, crumbles, coblers, pan dowdies, and brown betties, apples are great in the oven or on the stovetop.

A weekend breakfast treat in my house is this baked apple pancake, which we just call "a pancake." It is basically a big popover with thinly sliced apples in the batter. Though it needs 25 minutes to bake, it's easy to make and tastes as light and spectacular as it looks.

Garnished with powdered sugar or ice cream, this is desert, but I prefer it with Grade B maple syrup for a special brunch.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

An explanation

Yesterday's tasting review, like many of late, lagged the actual eating by nearly a month.

I need a little time to write up a posting from my initial notes. Sometimes I don't have time to do this right away, and I usually put a little extra research elbow grease into things.

But I've also held a few back deliberately, to stretch things into the winter. I have one such delayed post to go.

In retrospect I'm not sure this was the best plan. Apples are intimately linked to season and there's something contrary about serving the last of autumn in January. On the other hand I'm still enjoying apples that were picked then, and there is in any case usually a gap between when my fruit is harvested and the day I buy it.

I do have some winter apple posts in the works, too.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ashmead's Kernel ***

What an apple, what suavity of aroma. Its initial Madeira-like mellowness of flavour overlies a deeper honeyed nuttiness, crisply sweet not sugar sweet, but the succulence of a well devilled marrow bone. Surely no apple of greater distinction or more perfect balance can ever have been raised anywhere on earth.

This lovely russet with the charming name has a rosy orange blush beneath its suede overcoat. Unblushed skin is green. It is a small medium and has large lenticels that are all rusetted over. The fruit's calyx is open but very shallow, and it has a pleasant faint smell of tea.

I got two of these in early December, past their prime. I've tasted Ashmead's Kernel once before, and though I did not record my impressions I remember strong lemon and sugar notes and crisp firmness. The example shown in my photo is the only one I have seen with any sort of a blush. It's attractive, but possibly overripe.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

In Praise of Microblogging, or, a Trip, a Pizza, and a Revelation

My family took a short trip to New York City over the holidays, where I was determined to try some of that town's famous coal-oven pizza. (Yes, pizza cooked in really hot ovens fueled by coal.)

Fortunately for me, someone had created a google map of every coal-oven pizza parlor in New York City.

That's when I realized: The secret power of the internet lies in its ability to tap into the narrow (but deep) knowledge of the true fanatic.

Which brings us back here. I've been surprised (and tickled) that hundreds of people have found this blog by putting the name of an apple variety into Google and pressed the Search button. Tickled because it's fun to have readers, and surprised because--well, lets see.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Esopus Spitzenberg **

This variety is old, revered, and hard to find. I've never tasted one before.

This medium-sized fruit has an orange-tinged red blush that is streaky on the shaded side and speckled with many light lenticels of varying sizes. It is noticeably ribbed and has a sweet smell of cider and pears.

The flesh of my Esopus Spitzenberg is yellow, coarse, and firm, still reasonably crisp but tender. Its taste is nicely balanced and has pronounced acidity. This is a flavorful old-style apple after the manner of a Ribston or Cox's. The peel is thick and adds some sharpness to the finish. There are floral notes and hints of peach and something citrus, pineapple perhaps.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Day, with apples

Since starting this experiment seven months ago, I have written eighty-one posts about apples, forty-seven of which are tasting reviews of unique varieties.