Thursday, July 29, 2010

Yellow Transparent

The first of these luminous beauties had been off the tree too long.

The second was picked too soon.

But the third was just right.

Yellow Transparent, an heirloom from Russia, is small with a pale yellow skin and green lenticels. These are slightly conical and slightly ribbed. Most of my tasting samples had a very faint pink tinge on the sun-kissed side. The overripe one (shown) bruised very easily.

At eating peak, the flesh is crisp, medium-coarse, and juicy. The flavor is tart, a sort of Granny Smith lite, with some lime and a little gingery spice. There's a hit of lemonade in the bites I took from the Calyx end of the fruit, and a faint suggestion of cream soda.

This light, lively apple serves up refreshing tastes with verve and snap. It's not overwhelmingly sour, but if sweet's your thing this might not be for you. I liked mine a lot.

These early varieties have a very small pick-and-eat window, so I'm not surprised that some of these were pre or post prime time. According to the handy harvest calendar from Red Apple Farm, who sold me my fruit on Tuesday, this year's crop was picked a week earlier than normal.

Update: As noted in the comments, this apple looks an awful lot like some others sold to me as Lodi two years ago. As it turns out, those were really Yellow Transparent too. (The real Lodi is similar, though in my opinion not as fine.)

So this is a second review, a spare. In some ways my taste-buds are more acute today, though I think the two-year-ago samples were closer to peak. So it's your choice: greener apples this year, or a greener taster from 2008 (here).

19 comments:

  1. This looks like what I am getting here in NYC--either a Lodi or maybe Pristine.
    Brad

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  2. Bob, the uncertainty in your note makes me admit that I am not 100% confident of my ID of Lodi two years ago.

    As usual, I rely on the grower, but these two apples do look suspiciously alike.

    Also, the Lodi apples that I bought from another grower a few weeks ago look pretty different from the 2008 examples, as I said at the time.

    This wouldn't be the first time that a grower got it wrong (and I dutifully reproduced the error). However, there are some differences between 2008 and 2010--the lenticels look different, for instance, and the shape of the fruit, and other things. So I'm sticking to this story for now.

    I am convinced that this year's sample is a true Yellow Transparent. Don't know what you've got, obviously, but Pristine is pretty different.

    Thanks for dropping by!

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  3. There was a Yellow Transparent tree next door when I was growing up in Denver, CO. It does ripen early and overripens quickly so there is a narrow window of ripeness. Lovely flavor when just ripe....it's best for applesauce, as it cooks down quickly and doesn't stay firm enough when cooked for pies. The tree is vulnerable to fire blight so it probably isn't grown much nowadays. Lodi must have replaced it, as Lodi is a more healthy tree although as you said, it's not quite as good in flavor as the Yellow Transparent.

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    Replies
    1. One problem I have with Lodi is I often find them picked too early. But even at peak they are not a good as Yellow Transparent.

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  4. I had a Lodi apple tree until a storm took it out. The apples are really large, pick them when still green--if you wait for them to turn yellow, they're overripe and mealy. Great applesauce, and quite early (late June to early July in Kansas). I liked it, once I learned that I really could make applesauce with green apples. Just add sugar and presto! You may need a pollinator tree. Any crab or flowering crab will work. I have a Liberty (wonderful tree) and 2 flowering crabs and that worked well for me.

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    1. Lodi is okay, and certainly ripens at the right time, but I think Yellow Transparent is a better apple.

      I didn't realize Lodi was good for sauce, though, thanks!

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  5. Any luck finding real Yellow Transparent apples? I could use a bushel or two this summer to make applesauce - it is the best - my mother and grandmother have made it for years and there is no substitute for the Yellow Transparent. I live just outside of Boston and need to find an orchard or farm stand that has them this summer. Any help would be appreciated. Please contact me at andythomes0@gmail.com if there are any leads.
    Thanks
    Andy

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    1. Andy, I got these at Red Apple Farm.

      They are in Phillipston but have been selling their fruit at the Lexington farmers market for the past several years at least.

      You might also try Gould Hill in New Hampshire. Definitely call, because the season for these is very short.

      I hope you'll post back here if you find another source in New England.

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    2. Hi Adam -

      Thanks for the info.

      I could use a bushel or two.

      I can stop by the farm market - would they have the yellow transparent all the time or only by special request / order / delivery?

      I could also come to the farm if necessary.

      Do you have an idea when they will be ready?

      Thanks
      Andy

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    3. I don't see these every year. Possibly the tree or tree does not bear every year. And Red Apple does not bring all of their assortment to lexington, either.

      So it's worth calling them to ask before making a trip.

      When I do see these, it's usually around the first of August. But of course that is a moving target especially these days.

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    4. Andy, as you may know Red Apple brought YT to Lexington last Tuesday, but the apples were not ripe. I'll be looking for ripe YT next week.

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  6. My house, built in 1955, came with a Gravenstein apple that was dying of old age; my husband cut it down but never got around to taking out the stump. It grew back as a completely different type of apple, of course, and I was told yesterday that it seems to be a Yellow Transparent. I've been caging the apples in plastic produce clamshells to try to keep the critters from devouring them all and it mostly is working.

    So, how do you know when to pick these for them to be at their best? So far it's been when the critters jump on the clamshells hard enough to knock them out of the tree.

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  7. It sounds as though the farmer who planted the tree, or the nursery that made it, used Yellow T as rootstock. Interesting choice!

    Or maybe the farmer grafted on some YT early on, so as to have two varieties form the same tree, and that part stopped bearing.

    Around here Yellow Transparent ripens the first week in August.

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  8. Hi all, I think I have a tree of yellow transparent apples which are ready to pick as far as I can tell. Read somewhere that the color changes from slight green to pale yellow, and when ready to pick, the seeds inside are brown (ripe/mature). The one problem seems to be a short time from near/to ripe/to over-ripe (mealy). My brother-in-law remembered them as a kid, having made apple-butter, although some say the delicate taste is better suited for sauce.

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    1. Phil, I think you are right on all fronts. These should be ripe in many places right now (still a few weeks to go up here I think), and the seed color is a reliable sign.

      My experience also agrees with your observation about the fine line between ripe and overripe, true of many early varieties. Eat them while you can!

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    2. Definitely sauce. And the world's best apple dumpling.

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    3. Yellow Transparent dumplings—what a concept!

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  9. Hello Adam,
    Thanks for all of the great information on your blog. I am trying to decide upon some apple varieties to graft next spring and this has been really helpful. I found an interesting video where the guy tastes some early apples and has both Lodi & Yellow transparent side by side along with another interesting one called Henry Clay which I hadn't heard of. You can see that at this link if interested:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xzbNPr7zuI

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Matt, that video is both charming and informative.

      Good luck with your trees!

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