Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Niagara (Niagara Mac)

Of all the "new" apples I got on a recent trip to New York City, Niagara may be the only one I haven't had before.

It's medium-sized, but there were larger ones available. I just didn't want to carry more than I had to.

For the most part Niagara resembles an oblate, ribbed McIntosh, with a streaky red blush over yellow green.

Light lenticels are quite large on parts of the apple, probably where growth has especially stretched the peel. That peel has a satin-gloss finish.

Inside the flesh is more tender than crisp, a medium-fine-grained white that is tinted green, probably indicating a slight underripeness. But perhaps that is the true peak for this variety.

It's pretty juicy too.

Niagara also has Mac-like flavors, generic berries and a vinous note. There is also a little melon that is most evident in the finish. It's well balanced with considerable sweetness, certainly with less acidity than McIntosh.

Although I can't get excited about Niagara, it is perfectly pleasant to eat and I regret not buy a larger one when I could have.

Niagara would be a good choice within the vast vinous McIntosh family for anyone averse to the real Mac's tart acidity.

Sold to me under the name "Niagara Mac," I am reasonably convinced this is a Niagara, a Carlton x McIntosh cross from, of course, the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station where it was developed in the 1950s.

McIntosh, father of a great line
This agency, located at Cornell University, has been a hub of Mac-based breeding activity for a century, bringing us such varieties as Cortland, Liberty, Empress, Empire, and of course Macoun.

I want to thank the fellow from Orchards of Conklin for taking seriously my question about whether "Niagara Mac" was a true separate breed or merely a sport of McIntosh.

He wasn't sure but based in part on Niagara's flavor and texture he was inclined to think it was its own breed.

For similar reasons, so am I.

Like the falls: Marian Burros wrote about Niagara (and other apples) in the New York Times in 1988.

She too found this apple sold under the name "Niagara Mac" at a New York City greenmarket and she too remarked on its texture,

slightly softer [than McIntosh but]...equally flavorful—"wet and noisy, like the falls," said one sign.


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