Thursday, October 19, 2017

Frostbite **

Is there a fitter name for an apple that is cold-hardy down to −40° F? (The tree, not the fruit.)

But the best thing? It's really good.

Frostbite, a small medium, is squat and oblate but with a classical cast. It has the ghost of some ribbing and a long thin stem.

The glossy peel sports a streaky red blush over light yellow, the blush veering to dark crimson in some places.

Tan lenticels are largest and most obvious where the blush is deepest. They are reduced to nearly invisible green dots in the unblushed yellow.

Parts of the apple are also bumpy and dimpled, and this effect is also greatest in the darkest regions of blush.

Flavor: Malt! Frostbite has wonderfully crisp coarse yellow flesh. It's very juicy and quite sweet. The malt flavor comes on like gangbusters, fades a bit, and then reasserts in the finish.

Wickson: brother from another mother
This reminded me so much of Wickson I was compelled to consult my Wickson review. Obviously not the same, but wow.

Update: Okay, here's the head-to-head.

The malt predominates, but there is also faint spiciness and something a little citric and more succulent lurking in the background.

I cannot tease it out further, except that one of these had some B vitamin show up faintly in the finish.

Some reviewers find molasses in the mix. To me it just shouts malt so loud that maybe I am missing the dark brown sweet.

Mind-boggle number 2: This variety was developed by the University of Minnesota (of course) back in the 1920s. UMinn then sat on it for sixty years.

Frostbite beats Honeycrisp to a fare-thee-well. What were they thinking? (And, what else have they got in their attic?)


  1. Wow, exciting. The flavor you refer to as malt must be what i usually just call "the Wickson thing" it is in other crabs as well, but never so much as in Wickson. Perhaps this was developed though from similar genes to what Etter was using in his crab mixes. I forget which they were just now. Given that crabs are often very hardy, it would not be surprising to find crab genes in there. To me this is one of the most compelling flavors to pursue in new apples. What is interesting is that before I read the article, I looked at the picture and for some reason thought of wickson and my own Wickson seedling BITE ME! which has that flavor as well. Coincidence?

  2. I have Frostbite (or Minnesota 447 as it used to be called) growing here in zone 2 Canada. It does very well and is one of my favourite apples for sure, if only for how unique that flavour is. In all of the apples I've ever eaten in my life (that's a fair few, but haven't tried a wickson yet), I've never come across a similar flavour.
    I definitely think molasses/brown sugar rather than malt but will look for that flavour next time I have one. Maybe it is another case where the flavour profile is quite different in colder climates, and like how you described sweet 16 I think, perhaps even better in the North!

    1. Dan, I would not be surprised to find that different flavors develop in different climate zones.

      Or maybe my brain is just wired differently.

    2. Curious where you are in the North, Dan. Have you ever had trouble with it ripening too late?

  3. I get a strong sugar cane juice flavor from these, more than malt. The almost over-the-top sugary-ness is so brazen that I have come to really love them, despite not being a fan of super-sweet modern varieties. There's also a weirdness to the flavor, which helps, and which may be some of what you are describing, but which I had a hard time placing.

  4. My own trees are still young, but i know other people’s frostbite trees here seem to ripen ok, probably by last week of September or first week of October. I’m in Lumsden, Saskatchewan.


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