Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Apples on the Web: Orange Pippin

Pop the name of most any apple variety into your search engine and you will likely find a link to Yorkshire-based Orange Pippin, an admirable and delightful web site about apples.

It has only gotten better since I first reviewed it here in 2008.

There are still hundreds of apple reviews, indeed hundreds more since its merger last year with the American All About Apples. Each listing offers a featured review (sometimes perfunctory), tasting notes from readers, and other information of interest to gardeners, growers, and gourmands.

This includes tree characteristics and pedigree, integration with Orange Pippin's Tree Register, and the names and locations of orchards and nurseries selling apples and trees respectively.

Many listings show photographs from the United Kingdom's National Fruit Collection. Perhaps more scientific than beautiful, these should be useful to anyone trying to identify a mystery apple.

Dig a little further to find treasures like this interactive map of orchards by variety, a geographical representation of a directory of more than 2,000 orchards, mostly in the United States.

I like tell my readers about features of other sites that are hidden away and hard to stumble upon. Despite its scope, however, Orange Pippin is so well organized and its vast content so thoughtfully integrated as to leave few hidden corners.

User-interface design like this shows real respect for readers. When it's as good as this it's nearly invisible.

Nonetheless the workings of the site's attribute search page, which lets you search by such characteristics as eating quality, flavor (or rather flavour) style, and cooking result, will repay a little study.

This search function is cumulative, allowing you to add screening characteristics that add or subtract apples.

Play with it and see; you can clear all your categories and start fresh with the "Reset list" link at the top of the page. (Note too that as of this writing only about 200 varieties are included in the attribute search).

Orange Pippin has also added sister sites, or sub-sites, on cherries and plums. There is also an impressive library of essays, images, and links.

Perhaps the biggest change since my earlier review has been last year's merger with All About Apples, which I reviewed in 2008. At this point AAA's site redirects to Orange Pippin.

The integration of All About Apples' content into Orange Pippin's architecture has been good but not always seamless. Generally though the new content, including AAA's apple forum and hundreds of new American varieties, feel right at home.

It's going to take time to meld all of this content, and there are still a few gaps, but this site is an amazing resource that just keeps getting better.

I haven't done Orange Pippin justice by half, and this is my second try! So go and see for yourself.

The site is named for Cox's Orange Pippin, an excellent dessert apple popular in Europe and much prized by the site's webmaster.

2 comments:

  1. do you mind if i reprint this blog posting in the Home Orchard Society's quarterly journal for our members? I am looking for a review of the orange pippin site to encourage more of our members to register their trees with the site, and you have written a lovely endorsement!
    If you don't already know, our group is a non-profit based in oregon and we send a print newsletter out to about 600 members every 3 months.
    Please let me know if you have any questions. i will certainly credit you and include a link to your blog!
    thanks,
    karen tillou

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    Replies
    1. Karen, I am flattered and would be pleased to share this with your members.

      Please contact me directly so we can finalize things. You can reach me via the email link on my profile page.

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