Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lodi vs. Yellow Transparent smackdown

Lodi (L) and Yellow Transparent. These early varieties are sometimes confused.
I have been trying to get these guys together for years. They are related.

Although both are among the earliest varieties of the summer, their respective seasons are so short, and their shelf lives so brief, that they rarely overlap.

Let's see who is the better apple.

Yellow Transparent, aka White Transparent, is a heritage apple from Latvia. At peak, or a little past, its thin pale yellow skin has an ethereal quality.

Larger Lodi (rhymes with "show pie") may have been an attempt to "improve" Yellow T by producing a similar early apple that is more reliable and easier to grow. Yellow Transparent is its sire.

Today's Lodi is the spring green of a Granny Smith. It is conical and moderately ribbed, with lenticels that blend in to the rest of the peel.

I have several Yellow Transparents, small-to-medium. These are rounder and squatter, though many have a hint of ribbing and taper slightly towards the base.

Unripe, the peel of these resembles that of Lodi, but as they mature the skin lightens to yellow-green. The greener lenticels, which are less numerous, stand out more by contrast.

Some of these apples achieve a kind of aged-ivory translucence, but these are almost always overripe.

Despite these differences, when Yellow Transparent is unripe and Lodi is smaller (not unusual) it is easy to confuse the two varieties.

The Lodi is odorless but some of the Yellow Transparents bear a sweet green-apple scent, like a child's candy.

Yellow T is fragile and show small bruises just from their trip from the Lexington Farmers Market. Lodi feels much sturdier in hand.

Lodi has medium-fine-grained white flesh with green highlights, reasonably crunchy but with a little give.

It is bracingly tart, more so than Granny, with a little lime and the suggestion of grapefruit peel and ginger.

I like the way it feels in my belly, but the acidity is a lot to take.

My first Yellow Transparent is softer, sweeter, and juicier, and the flesh is light yellow. Its flavors are more complex and better balanced, with almond and floral notes and a brief citric hit.

My second has the best texture of all, crisp and delicate. It's also less flavorful than YT No. 1, slightly more tart, which balances things nicely. There's just a little lime and ginger. Very little.

I have more of these, but this tasting suggests how much variation there can be in Yellow Transparent. Other tastings have revealed hints of ginger, lemonade, vanilla, and cream soda in this apple.

So who wins the match? Both have their early-season virtues. Despite its finicky nature, I'd rather feast on ripe Yellow Transparent than Lodi, though.

Yellow T has better flavors and, sometimes, texture; I look for it every summer.

As to Lodi as an "improved" Yellow Transparent: I just can't see it. Not only is Yellow T the better eating apple, but Lodi is really different, bigger and much more tart.

They might be fungible for applesauce, but not for eating.

A better candidate for an "improved" Yellow T might be Pristine, and if I can ever get the two of them together we'll see.

View some other comparisons if you like.


  1. Since we live in Lodi, we had to grow one. Six years later we harvested our first apple – the entire crop. Conclusion: if we didn't live in Lodi, we wouldn't grow a Lodi.

    We thought a previous owner had the same idea as we did, but we were never sure if one old tree was a Lodi or a Yellow Transparent. It died several years ago, so we could not make a comparison.

    1. I still go for the Lodis evey year, since they are the first thing around here. And to be fair, this year's Lodis were the best I've ever had.

      But now that there are Vista Bellas and Pristines, forget it.


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