Monday, May 2, 2011

Apples of April (2011)

I found myself leaning heavily on Empires this month, still in good form after half a year in cold storage.

The flavor intensities of these apples varied, depending I suppose on how they had been stored and handled.

Smartfresh, a widely used gas that blocks fruit-ripening (by suppressing ethylene), has the side effect of diluting flavor, though this wears off.

April is typically when the harvest in the Southern Hemisphere comes north. These apples are six months fresher than fall's crop, though both undergo cold storage in controlled atmospheres before they arrive in supermarkets here in North America.

Chilean Galas surfaced here mid-month, but I did not spot any others from south of the equator. I guess we will see them in May.

Many of the sturdy year-round varieties, such as Braeburn or Jazz, originated in New Zealand or Australia. Last year I wrote a short guide to these varieties.

If you are wondering what to buy this time of year, my guide to the supermarket apples makes suggestions based on what Fall apples you prefer.

Granny Smith is a good springtime bet and a welcome relief from the sometimes saccharine sweetness of the other available varieties.

When Granny is good, she is very very good, but this April not so much. I wonder how much of that is storage and how much the ones I ate had been deformed by market forces, something that orchardist Michael Phillips denounced back in December.

At the end of the month, I found some Rome apples for sale in a local supermarket. I'm not surprised that someone someplace is socking this old variety away in cold storage, but I did not expect to see any in a Boston-area supermarket in late April.

Last year a warm spring brought apple blossoms in mid April, sometimes to be felled by frost. This year at month's end I see no flowers on the trees, though they look about ready to pop.

Chris at A Life of Apples has a similar report. Meanwhile, Orange Pippin is tracking blossom dates worldwide.

1 comment:

  1. Normally this time of year black oxford is a great keeper by itself without chemicals. It shares the trait of extra thick skin similar to but better than that of Bramleys, Ben Davis, Arkansas black, and empire to a certain extent; just to name a few. Fresh off the tree they are sweet / tart, but develop a great sweetness reaching its peak in Feb, march. Keeps with enough quality until the 4th of July in a common refridgerator/root cellar. Adam and I will both be keeping samples to try this time of year and beyond for blog entries.

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