Thursday, September 29, 2016

Revisiting Cortland


Cortland sits modestly in the shadow of its more glamorous relatives, McIntosh and Macoun. Cortland is the number one favorite of some people I know, yet I generally pass this variety by, given what else is available in the fall.

For this reason I wanted to revisit Cortland, with a farmers-market-fresh apple picked at peak. Would I revise my original review?

My Cortland is a large apple with an attenuated streaky blush over a lively spring green. it is round and a little oblate, with very light ribbing. Large tan lenticels freckle the blush, and a stubby stem sits in a russetted stem well.

Crisp and well balanced, Cortland's fine-grained white flesh bears floral and fruity notes and a satisfying, breaking crunch, though there is a little give.

Beyond, that, Cortland nods genially at some of the signature flavors of the Mac clan without actually delivering them, though one can descry a generic berry flavor fleetingly in the bite. There's a little flash of watermelon candy (yes, this is a thing). The peel persists at the end of the chew.

I was happy to have this apple today, and I noticed a few faint flavors that I missed back in 2008. Nonetheless I remain staunchly underwhelmed.

Cortland is a Ben Davis x McIntosh cross, an early product of the breeding program at Cornell university.

One of Cortland's claims to fame is that it is the apple of choice for a Waldorf salad.

That's because it resists browning, something that one modern apple patent holder has replicated by editing the genes of other varieties to suppress the entire browning mechanism.

The genetic technique creates an apple that also does not show bruises, a claim that Cortland cannot make.

How you feel about hiding the bruises on an apple probably depends on who you are. A food-processing company seeking to sell pre-sliced fruit might really value that, but an apple lover seeking fruit that is fresh and undamaged probably won't.

1 comment:

  1. Cortland was one of the apples named in the earliest geneva experiment. It was the one out of 125 seedling, of which 106 had fruited. 13 of the 106 were selected for naming and 14 were considered worthy of further evaluation and possible naming. Cortland is the only one you hear anything about anymore.


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