Saturday, October 3, 2015

Vanilla Pippin *


Yes, you can taste some vanilla in this pippin.

Vanilla is not an unusual flavor in apples, where it abuts vanilla caramel, cream soda, and banana.

You can taste a lot of interesting things if you leave behind the narrow bright circle of crunchy hard supermarket apples.

But first, take a look at this one.

My medium-sized Vanilla Pippin, slightly ribbed, arrives perhaps a little beaten up, its small pale red blush over yellow green. There are some bruises and scars and other flaws.

The lenticels in the green are dark brown and russeted, and there's a nice load of corky russet around the stem well which gives the apple a yeasty, almost medicinal smell.

Inside the Pippin's flesh is fine grained and creamy white, with some green highlights that suggest the fruit could be a little on the early side.

The texture is firm but a little yielding. Somehow I have the impression of a custard, though objectively that's not actually a very accurate feeling.

The vanilla is indeed present but not prominent, at least not in this sample. Perhaps another week on the tree would have allowed the flavor to ripen. Pear is more front and center. These flavors are a little succulent and there's a weak spicy note too.

Vanilla Pippin is a mild, well-balanced apple with a good deal of cane sugar. It's both easy to eat and interesting. I recommend it.< This pippin is a cultivar, and some sources locate the original Vanilla Pippin tree in an abandoned orchard in Santa Cruz, California. If anyone knows more I would love to hear about it.


  1. Hi Adam, I met you yesterday at the apple tasting. I found that apple in 1997 in abandoned orchard in Chittendon, CA. Fruiting rootstock of a Red Del.growing out from under an oak tree. Old Netto family homestead, orchard planted in 30's. Sickly tree, prone to scab, early leaf drop, no vigor, little production. Surprising flavor. Very little acid, lots of sugar, "cane sugar" as you said. so the flavor is very high cotton candy like with just a touch of acid to give it the slightest amount of tingle. The Vanilla overtones are very distinct when fully ripe. Hard to ripen at my house, leaves fall off before fruit finishes. Birds like them. A friend has a tree I propagated a half mile from the coast, that gets better care than mine, and does better.

    1. Freddy, hi! It's great to hear from you and it saves me the puzzle of tracking you down.

      You were very generous with the leftovers yesterday and I will try to do them justice.

      And of course it is especially gratifying to open-endedly wonder if anyone knows more about the origins, only to hear a firsthand report from he who found it.

  2. Freddy,
    Is there any way I can get some scionwood for Vanilla Pippin? My email is:
    Thanks. Brent Spence

  3. In fall of '13 I had a box-full of Macoun, bought from an old orchard in East Wenatchee, WA. They had a pronounced vanilla taste and finish. I wonder if conditions Back East ever bring that result in Macoun? maybe after keeping a month? Will keep an eye out for Vanilla Pippin, and report if it ever crosses my path.


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