But in April, two varieties stand out: Remarkable Lady Alice, which improves (to a point) in storage, and the phenomenal Gold Rush, perhaps the greatest keeper ever.
Since I am lucky to have a supply of both this year, this head-to-head taste-off became inevitable.
These are very different apples, but both have lively strong flavors and good texture. Also, both do not grow mealy as they age.
Instead their texture suffers only slightly in storage over time, for a rubbery effect that preserves both juice and crunch.
Big and beautiful Alice, at right, is a yellow apple decorated with flamboyant red-orange streaks.
Her many small light lenticels are not obvious, and at this time of year there is just a hint of give if you squeeze her. Alice unbroken has a lush fruity aroma with a hint of spice.
By comparison, tiny Gold Rush seems meager and stunted. Its yellow peel has some green highlights and prominent russeted lenticels, but only faint smudges of blush.
In fact, Gold Rush blushes prettily, a striking bronze red, but all the ones I was able to find last fall were like this.
|A blushing Gold Rush|
Alice inside has fine-grained light yellow flesh that gives slightly but is still quite crisp. I judge that mine is a little past its peak, but it is still one of the best choices around in April.
Alice is sweet, but not cloying, and displays an enticing malt note. There is also honey, and a citrus quality that fades after the first few bites.
The Gold Rush is quite a bit firmer, with banana and pineapple notes and a whiff of honey. There's a bit of pear in the mix too. These are rich, balanced flavors.
Visually, GR's fine-grained yellow flesh is not distinguishable from that of lady Alice, though Alice is a little juicier.
GR's texture is excellent, and here is the point I have to make again and again about this apple.
This Gold Rush has been sitting, wrapped in newspaper, in a bag in my mudroom and later my refrigerator since I bought it at the end of October.
Alice also sat around for a few weeks, but spent most of the winter, and doubtless the end of the fall, in high-tech storage someplace out west.
These are the best April apples, Alice from a supermarket and GR after nearly 6 months in my fridge. They are a pleasure to eat, though unlike some pairings there is no special synergy in eating them together. (Nor is there a penalty.)
So which is best? Alice is a little past her prime, and my hoard of Gold Rush was, I think, picked a tad too early to ever fully realize its full potential.
I think that if I had peak samples of both, Gold Rush would take the prize by a nose for its flavor set and superior balance.
But as is, a dead heat.
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