Thursday, August 6, 2015

Fresh Pristine apples

I was very pleased to get these excellent apples at farmers market today, since I'd never found Pristine in New England before.

This tasting does not replace my initial review of the Pristines I got in New York in early September of 2008.

They were good then, but I wondered how much better they might be fresh off the tree.

The quick answer: A delight to eat, with excellent texture and vivid flavors.

I also have to praise Pristine's keeping qualities, since they were well worth eating in September, if not quite as good. Pristine may be the only early-season keeper there is.

As previously reported, these apples are on the small side of medium with moderate ribbing.

They are a green-tinted light yellow: the exact shade varies based on ripeness. Some, like the example shown, include a faint rosy orange blush.

Pristine ca. 2009
Lenticels are visible but not prominent as green spots in the unblushed region. (But my 2009 samples were a clear yellow.) Today's samples also show the beginning of a fine network of what might be russet, also not obvious.

Initial pear flavor is followed by lemonade and green apple with a hint of banana. The medium-coarse light-yellow flesh is light and crisp (but not breaking) and juicy.

Pristine has considerable sweetness well balanced with tart, and ends with a pleasingly astringent finish.

The temptation to eat multiple Pristines at a single sitting is strong.

Pristine is a new variety from the Purdue, Rutgers & Indiana breeding program, if 20 years counts as new. It might be considered a worthy modern alternative to Yellow Transparent, which ripens at about the same time. In that office it is in my view superior to Lodi.

Ghostly Yellow Transparent
Pristine deserves greater attention, at least in New England. The early apples define a niche that is sparsely populated and the grower who can deliver fruit of this quality at the start of August deserves to prosper.

I am ready to play my part in that grand design.

Yellow transparent, by the way, can be quite good in its own way. It is trickier to grow, though, and you have to catch it just right and eat it right away.

A bit more on the virtues of a ripe Yellow T here.


  1. Darn straight. They fly under the radar and only see market shelves for 2-3 weeks. Outstanding apple and I agree, hard to eat just one.

  2. We've had Pristine in the ground for about 5 years on G11 as a slender spindle. Using Liquid Lime Sulfur at 2 gal./A at PF we had very light thinning on this variety. They have strong bud set and yearly return bloom that requires hand thinning to get good size. Harvest timing in the mid-Hudson Valley in 2015 was the last week of July, requiring two to three picks. Very prone to plum curculio damage.This is a great scab resistant apple requiring few fungicide inputs with excellent early season flavor.

    1. Thank you, Peter! Readers might like to know that Peter is affiliated with the extensions service at Cornell.

      Apart from the technical specs, it seems to me that the economic case for a quality early apple is strong.

      If you show people that they do not have to wait until September for good fruit, they will line up to buy in August.


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