Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fameuse (Snow) *

This variety is either old or very old, and may be a parent of the popular McIntosh. There is a family resemblance.

Fameuse is a medium-sized apple, round and firm, with a red blush that is streaky in most places over yellow-green (about a third of the skin is unblushed in my samples). Its calyx is closed.

The flesh is indeed a snowy white (shot with green highlights in my case), crisp and dense-grained. Snow's flavor is balanced and vinous with berries and caramel, and without much acidity. It is a little Mac-like, pleasing and fine. Some later samples, less crisp (but still good) also have some coconut flavor.

Before McIntosh caught on, pomologists would often refer to a "Fameuse type" of apple to describe vinous fine-grained varieties of this family.

There are many stories about this apple online, and it is hard to sort fact from fancy. The generally reliable Apples of New York (1905) locates this apple (as Fameuse) in Quebec as early as the 17th century (link), and extensively quotes a discussion of claims that this variety originated even earlier in France.

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