Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Nothing but the tooth

It's a personal thing
As usual this time of year I am eating many of the hard, dense apples that populate supermarkets.

Tooth, like taste, is fundamental to an apple's quality and is a personal preference. Some people just can't get their teeth around the really hard apples.

Meanwhile I am noticing real differences in the texture of what's in the stores.

Off-season apples are stored for months and transported, sometimes for thousands of miles. It's no wonder that growers and retailers (and consumers) prefer sturdy fruits that keep well and withstand the rigors of all that handling.

Some apples are harder than others. I find the following three distinct textures:
  1. Hard, crunchy, dense apples, such as Piñata or Jazz.
  2. Apples with great crunch that are not so dense and consequently not so hard, though still very crisp. Examples include Honeycrisp, Ambrosia, Red Delicious, and the vinous McIntosh varieties.
  3. Dense apples that are not so hard, such as Pink Lady and Granny Smith. Not in any way soft or (thank goodness) mealy, these nonetheless have a little give to them.
Of these the second type seems to be the most fragile, with textures and flavors liable to deteriorate over time. However, handling affects the textures of all of these apples.

In this continuum of three dimension of texture, Golden Delicious (another year-round apple), sits near the middle. Softer than than the others, (but still good to eat), less crisp than McIntosh, and less dense than Jazz or Granny Smith.

There are other textures in the world of apples. Arkansas Black is so dense that it seems dry and so hard that it seems wooden. (But in a good way.)

You won't find AR Black, or anything like it, at the Stop & Shop. Even the densest hardest of the supermarket apples do not go that far.

Public-domain image from the U.S. National Fish & Wildlife Service.

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