But I rarely eat it during that harvest.
With a decidedly streaky blush, a bit of a smokey bloom, and a shape less conical than I have come to expect, these large apples look different enough from the supermarket version that I did not immediately recognize them hanging on the tree.
So I picked one and brought it home.
Tiny light lenticels stand out against the lustrous dark crimson streaks of blush like stars in the night sky.
Gratifyingly crisp, sweet and balanced, these have a tiny bit more of an acid kick to them than those in supermarkets. The flesh is a light yellow and the flavor the recognizable berries-and-wine of the Mac family, with perhaps a little gingery spice.
Though still sweet, the extra tartness in this sample gives this Empire a little more presence.
Would this fade over time in storage? Does this reflect a slightly early harvest date? Are the Empires from this hillside especially blessed?
I don't know, but I'm enjoying my example of this very accessible apple.
This post is my second second bite at this apple. Here's my variety review of a supermarket Empire, and here's a tasting of a fresh one in season (though not one that I picked myself).
You could arrange these 3 examples on a continuum, but all are recognizably the same apple.