Monday, September 3, 2012

More three-star apples

Today two more apples get three stars, the highest rank in my qualitative rating system. One star is "very good, worth choosing," two are "excellent, worth seeking," and three are "extraordinary, worth a quest" to find.

What sort of quest I leave to the judgment of the reader.

The stars rate only the eating qualities of apples, which is unfair to some spectacular cider and cooking varieties that don't happen to shine when eaten out of hand.

There is no accounting for tastes, so I trust you will treat these as advisory and keep your own list of favorites. Still, you may rely on these ratings and my reviews as a guide to something new, if you are in an adventurous frame of mind.

Today's three-star varieties are both from the Old World: Reine de Reinettes, known in the United Kingdom as King of the Pippins, and the legendary Cox's Orange Pippin.

I award three stars to Reine de Reinettes based on a single tasting of two apples last year. Should this prove reckless I will reconsider, but I was knocked out by the rich, intricate flavors of this apple: Orange. Mango. Plum. Bergamot. Give me a bag of these next October and I will happily tell you more.

Cox's is an apple of such excellence and significance that failing to crown it with laurels would be remarkable. The balance and complex flavors of this fruit are first rate, including oranges, mango, cinnamon, and hazelnut, showing themselves in a notably orderly procession of taste.


  1. Trying to get me to do more work, I see. I have linked your illustrated apple reviews on my site for several years, but now, with your new rating system, it looks like I will have to go back and add in those stars, too. Are you going to add negative symbols as well for bland/unremarkable and poor apples?

    You have been a lot smarter than we have been. You've gone out and obtained apple samples; we've gone out and obtained apple trees. As a result, you've tasted more different apples than we have. We are still waiting on our Chestnut Crab and Macoun, and we only got one harvest out of our Cox before the tree died, and wouldn't want to base my opinion of Cox's Orange on the pathetic fruits we got that year.

    By the way, I am transitioning to a new web site. You have a link to My Grandpap's Apple Orchard on the Ithaca College web site. It is still there for now, but the new location is

    1. John, sorry to add to your labors! I'd be tickled were you to reflect my ratings somehow, but don't see a compelling reason for you to do so.

      Very gracious of you, by the way, to credit me for smarts in the let-others-grow-the-fruit department. (As opposed to, you know, laziness.) Sorry about your Cox's, I have heard they can be tricky.

      As for "negative" stars (rotten apples?), no. There might be another wrinkle or two to the rating system yet to come. But having set myself up as judge and jury I am not eager to assume the role of executioner too. I'd rather tell people about the good stuff they are missing.

      Thanks for the heads up about your new digs for your excellent web pages. I will revise the links in my review accordingly.

      Best wishes for a wonderful harvest!


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