Monday, January 26, 2015

Gradually, more January choices

Back in January of 2010 I found 16 different kinds of apples for sale in markets within 2 miles of my house.

Piñata (L) and Ambrosia
These included Piñata, then making its New England debut, and Ambrosia, which had done so the winter before.

Since then, growing sophistication about food in general and apples in particular has lured more choices into January markets. Some are new and others very old.

First of all, growers continue to bring new varieties to market over the winter. Two European breeds (now grown in North America) are briefly available at the start of the year.

Junami, from Switzerland, first appeared here in 2012, and Opal, from the Czech Republic, made its entry a year later.

Both are crisp and have pleasing, internally harmonious flavors with enough tartness to balance out what would otherwise be much too much sugar.

Junami is more floral, while Opal might be, broadly, a sassier Golden Delicious.

Both earn a one-star ("worth choosing") rating from me. They enliven the winter, though at present supplies are limited.

I'm also able to buy high-quality heritage apples in January at the winter farmer's market in the nearby city of Somerville.

Last year I had the choice of several russet varieties through mid-February and this year I've been munching on the venerable, and excellent, Esopus Spitzenberg. (Though a little past its peak E. Spitz holds up quite well.)

The Somerville market, established in 2010, reflects the growing food-to-kitchen trend that is bringing farmers to the cities, with their crops.

Besides the apples, the winter market includes a full pantheon of root vegetables.

Boston broke ground last fall on its own year-round market near the site of its old Haymarket.

The new market is scheduled to open later this year with goods from Red Apple Farm and many other New England growers.

What apples do you like to eat in January?


  1. I'll eat any apple that is crispy and sweet. Here in Montreal, for the January months, we've got Opal apples, Junami, and Pinata/Pinova. There's also the usual macintoshes, yellow delicious, cortlands...etc. I haven't tried the Pinata apples yet, but I plan on purchasing some this week-end.

    I'm looking forward to February and March, when the Lady Alice apples will be available. The Lady Alice apples are my favorite apples. I'm also looking forward to trying the Pacific Rose apple, which should be available then as well.

    1. Anne, those are among my personal picks for January too. Piñata top-rate if you get a good one.


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