Seldom sought (or grown), obscure Ben Davis is the sire of sturdy stalwart Cortland.
Ben is a big ribbed guy with a streaky red blush over a bright yellow green. The blush is almost granular, like small discrete blobs of pigment washed over a green canvas. His calyx is dry and open.
My sample is nobbed and gnarled and host to a harmless skin condition called sooty blotch. It is quite firm and, unbroken, has a sweet yeasty fragrance.
Ben's flesh is a fine-grained snowy white, not very juicy, and firm but yielding and chewy rather than crunchy. Spongy, even. The flavors are very mild and balanced--there is nothing here to offend anyone--with some delicate floral notes and a cool hint of the vine.
Though pleasant to eat, the dry texture is subpar, and Ben is not going to rock anyone's world. He has all but faded from view.
Jim Cummings has a pretty good story about Ben. It is interesting to contemplate the alchemy that crosses McIntosh with this variety to produce Cortland.