Sunday, April 3, 2011

Apples of March (2011)

March is depressingly far from last October's harvest or July's early apples, but there are consolations. Compared to February, I found some prime Empires and Piñatas.

No sign of lovely Lady Alice here this year, alas.

But March is also where I empty out the bottom drawer of my refrigerator and have my last taste of fall. As previously related, for instance, I had my last Winter Banana on March 19.

This spring cleaning invariably exhumes a few surprises, one or two apples I thought I was finished with.

First of all, these apples all smell wonderful. Maybe it's just the contrast with the chemically treated supermarket apples.

Second, they are all better than I expected. Some are really good.

To begin with, I have a few very fine russets left. I think these are Golden Russets. They have excellent texture and flavor, including an hint of lime.

Reinette Simirenko (yes, the very one in the photo) had a wonderfully sweet floral aroma and felt quite firm. It was not so good to eat, a bit mealy (though palatable), but with great flavors including a remarkably distinct almond note that emerged in storage.

Ananas Reinette had lovely sweet aroma (with a faint pineapple note). As this one had quite a bit of give in hand, I did not have high hopes, but though the texture was grainy it was not mealy and was surprisingly enjoyable. Its flavor was very good with vanilla, pineapple, and (in the peel) chamomile. There was a very fine citric aftertaste.

Like Simirenko, past its prime, but how about hoarding a few to eat in December?

Blushing Golden and what I think must be a Baldwin. The former has a honeyed Golden Delicious aroma and a nice texture, still a little crisp and not at all mealy. This apple is remarkably unchanged from November, with very nice balanced mild flavors, a great pleasure to eat at the end of March.

The Baldwin was also surprisingly crisp, though a little grainy, with mellow, blended flavors. (Vanilla? Pear?)

And don't laugh, but I even found a lone Smokehouse at the bottom of the drawer. It was partially rotted, but otherwise of good texture and sweet taste, with a suggestion of lemonade in the finish.

You see, I really am a pack rat. But a well-fed one.

And I've calibrated my understanding of just how some of these old varieties age.

Note: It's April as I write this, but if you are reading in some future March, wondering what to buy, check out my March guide, or indeed the monthly guides for April and May (and even for February) for advice about what is available in the off season.

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