Sunday, October 21, 2018

Criterion

Conical yellow apple with partial orange blush

This foundling apple can be large, but the ones I bought are medium sized.

They are classically conical and tapered with pronounced ribbing, a pretty light yellow with an attenuated red-orange blush. The peal is smooth and glossy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Welcome to autumn!

It's apple season, welcome to Adam's Apples! If you are curious about this fruit you have come to the right place.

Here you can find more than 260 different varieties described in my opinionated catalog. If that's more than you can chew, you might visit my seasonal guide or my Michelin-style rating system for apples.

Views from the market

Many different kinds of apples each in their own wooden bin set up under a blustery sky. Shoppers bow their heads into the wind.

Above: It was so windy at Arlington's Farmers Market earlier today that this vendor did not even try to set up their usual awning.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

King David Watercored

An apple with several bites taken out. The light yellow flesh has glassy yellow streaks in it.

Yes, it's the King David apple. With a mild case of watercore.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The lot of the pick

Heritage and other apples in wooden bins with little hand-written signs
Just a small sample of what was for sale last weekend at Shelburne Farm in Stow, Massachusetts.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Vote with your mouth

4 platters with cut pieces of apples. There are only 2 pieces of Cox's left.
Apple tasting featuring (left to right) Crimson Crisp, Cox's Orange Pippin, Ashmead's Kernel, and Macoun.
I organized an apple tasting for my colleagues where I work today, and got a visual demonstration of their collective taste in apples.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Sweet 16 revisited

Large, ribbed, red-blushed apple with a blemish spot near the crown on one side.

Yes, there was a flaw in this apple.

I bought it anyway because so what, and also because it was the only one left.

I've been wanting to retaste Sweet 16 ever since some of my readers told me that my 2011 tasting sample did not express this apple's true flavors. So:

Friday, October 5, 2018

Westfield Seek-No-Further returns

Handsome apple with pinkish blush

Seek no further!

This large and essentially spherical apple (though slightly oblate) has a very pretty layered blush that is in some places a warm pink. In others there is a kind of Indian red, with brown tones.

(A second sample is a little conical and has a more classical shape.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

25 and counting



Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays ou il exist deux cent quarante-six variétés de fromage? How can you govern a country that has two hundred and forty-six kinds of cheese?

We may not be in DeGaulle territory yet, but I was delighted to count 25 varieties of apples at my local farmers market today.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Riverbelle (Sweet Riverbelle)

From its sparse striped blush to its lobed ribbing, today's apple is visually distinctive.

Yellow apple with red stripes


Riverbelle's red streaks are broken and spread so thinly over the light yellow peel as to appear orange. The apple's tiny lenticel dots are easiest to spot in the unblushed peal, where they are green.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Apple tip o the year

Look.

Apples in wooden bins


There were 17 kinds of apples at farmers market on Saturday.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Rich September

I am used to thinking of September as a kind of calm-before-the-storm hiatus of the fall parade of apples.

Wooden bins full of different kinds of apples

Today however I counted 17 different varieties at farmers market, including Ribston Pippin, Ashmead's Kernel, Wickson, and Westfield Seek-No-Further.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Zestar versus Elstar Smackdow

Two partially blushed apples

Two modern August apples, crisp and sweet. Zestar (L)—sometimes "Zest Star"—from Minnesota, and Elstar, from the Netherlands.

So, it's 'Star vs. 'Star. Which is best?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fancy a nice stale apple?

A wrinkled apple
Not this guy.
It's almost fall, so perhaps you are thinking about biting into an apple that has been lying around in storage for the last 12 months.

No? This time of year there's a good chance that the McIntoshs or Honeycrisps for sale at your supermarket are from last year's harvest.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Summer cornicopia

I am used to thinking of the early harvest as a sort of wasteland. A niche for a canny apple breeder to fill (though not, if you please, with another Honeycrisp wannabe).

Wooden bins of 4 early apples at farmers market

Yet by Labor Day I had already enjoyed 10 fresh local varieties.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Zestar versus Paula Red smackdown

Two apples side by side

This amiable paring came about by accident.

The two apples are both ripe in August but are very different. One is a sweet modern apple and the other is probably the best early Mac-style pick.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Apple of the Week: Chestnut Crab

A pile of small piebald apples, red, olive, and russet colors

Do I cook with these? a woman asked me at Farmers Market.

I told her they were great eating apples, but I don't think she believed me. Misled by the size and by the myth of sour crabs.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Apple of the Week: Gravenstein

Two streaky apples, red over spring green
Gravenstein is the Macoun of August.

These are not quite at peak where I live, but still worth seeking out.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Forever sugar


It's August already and we are up to the very fine Gravensteins.

Well into the harvest.

Personally I am not looking back, but it just hit me that today it is possible to eat super sweet varieties all year round and never have the joy of tart local fruit.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Goodby, Willams Pride

Get out your tiny violins.

A dark red apple with tan speckles

My sole source for Williams Pride, one of my favorite August apples, has none this year and will be pulling the trees down to grow something else.

The apples are susceptible to bitter pit and just too ornery to grow.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Apple of the Week: Pristine

Two light green apples, one with a small faint pink blush
Eat us now!
The best of the super earlies, crisp and lively Pristine has snap and sophistication.

They are ripe now, so what are you waiting for?

Monday, July 23, 2018

10 Years of Adam's Apples


Ten years ago today, in my very first blog post, I said,

Neither a farmer nor a gourmet, I can't promise technical explanations or rarefied flights of fancy.

Still, there is a rich variety of apples still available here in New England, including many heirlooms.

If you don't know these apples, prepare to be amazed.

Maybe there has been a rarified flight of fancy or two. Still, my best work here is when the prose gets out of the way and the apples speak.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

And so it begins

A tapered green apple on a rock

Perhaps not the best apple of all time, but the event it heralds has no match in the calendar of fruit.

The above Lodi apple is the first of the 2018 apple harvest.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Fraud gallery

In the last few years we've seen some new faces on the supermarket shelves.

Kiku is sweet and crisp and juicy. Mahana Red is crisp and juicy and sweet.

Kiku apple
Kiku
Mahana Red apple
Mahana Red

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The stingiest month

April may be the cruelest month, but this particular June feels like the stingiest.

Of course there can be no fresh local fruit this month, but the southern hemisphere had a harvest not too long ago.

Where are those apples? Not in supermarkets.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Herefordshire Pomona

containing coloured figures and descriptions of the most esteemed kinds of apples and pears.


Color plate from the Herefordshire Pomona
Source: The Herefordshire Pomona, Volume II

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A fairy tale that's not even wrong

"Honeycrisp Saves the World"

magical apples floating in air bearing tiny houses

Recently National Public Radio's "Planet Money" decided to explain apples to us.

Because the true story of the apple and cider renaissance is so boring, the explanation came in the form of a fairy tale, once upon a time, in which nearly every story element is unfaithful to the truth.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A dab of mustard

Pinata apple with jar of mustard

Imagine my surprise to find mustard in my apple last week.

Not the actual golden brown spicy stuff, but rather its distinctive tang. Minus the heat.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Calm before the bloom

Bare apple trees
Not a bud has burst earlier today at Huchins Farm in Concord, Massachusetts.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Five apple names with stories to tell

I love how every apple has a story. Sometimes the stories come with titles, in the names of the apples.



Here are five of them.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Apple Snob

As the saying goes: blogging = focus + voice.

I've nailed the focus bit. But sometimes I fret about the voice.

Meet the Apple Snob, an online persona I have played with, though only in my head.

Dashing fellow with a bicycle
Tally ho!


Because who does not like a little knowing snark with their fruit?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The attack of the Honeycrisp wannabees

Honeycrisp regnant
Who shall dethrone the mighty Honeycrisp?
The wolves have been circling for some time around old King Honeycrisp. This variety originated, and still dominates, the niche of super crisp, tooth-achingly sweet apples.

Honeycrisp's rival apples aspire to rule the kingdom, not to topple it. To supplant with same-only-better, not to challenge with new tastes and textures.

By when did the King get so old? What makes him vulnerable?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Apples on the web: Out on a Limb

More than a hundred thoughtful descriptions (and photos) of apples are tucked away in a small website set up to manage the Out on a Limb Apple CSA (community supported agriculture).

list of apples

The descriptions are unsigned, but authorship must certainly belong to one of the CSA's farmers, apple sleuth and rescuer John Bunker.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Rip Van Winkle apple

GoldRush apples, from 2017 and 2016.

Long have I marveled at the wonderful keeping qualities of GoldRush, a modern variety developed by the PRI Co-op.

Packed well, GoldRush keeps in my ordinary refrigerator, peaking in April and still quite tasty in June.

So today, six months out, let's sample the fall 2017 harvest.

And while we are at it, the 2016 harvest too.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The orchard on Argilla Road

Van Gough, In The Orchard (Lithograph)
Vincent van Gogh

Eugene Crockett died suddenly in early 1932, leaving a family, a thousand fruit trees, and a pile of debt in the pit of the Depression.

Only his daughter, Kitty, wanted to keep the orchard or thought it would be possible to do so.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Honeycrisp vs. Evercrisp smackdown

Honeycrisp and Evercrisp apples
You know Honeycrisp (right?) even if you don't follow this blog. If you read my regular reports, perhaps you recall last fall's Evercrisp.

As its name suggests, Evercrisp, at right, takes aim at Honeycrisp and seeks to fill its shoes. Not by being boldly different, but by being the same only better.

So, this is personal. Let's see how things shake down.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Time to prune the trees

apple tree pruning Clarkdale

A small part of the orchard last Saturday at Clarkdale Fruit Farms.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

February thaw threatens fruit harvest

47 degrees (Fahrenheit) tomorrow. 63 on Tuesday; 69 on Wednesday, and 44 on Thursday.

Photo: MChance666 (CC BY-SA 4.0), via Wikimedia Commons

That's the current extended forecast for apple country in Massachusetts from the National Weather Service. After tonight, there are no evening lows in the forecast below 40° F.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Friday, February 2, 2018

The 2018 stars

Imbolc, that old holiday when winter secretly pivots towards the spring, is the time I revisit those apples that I have tasted in the previous year and rate them according to my star system.

A collage of apples

Monday, January 15, 2018

Roger Yepsen's Apples

Open almost any page in Roger Yepsen's Apples to find a charming tableau.

On the right-hand page is a watercolor painting of an apple, rendered by the author with reverent realism.

Facing on the left is a verbal sketch of the apple. These are not long. Several comprise only three sentences.

The images float on the white page. The text, though brief, tells the essential things you'd want to know about each variety, including origin, character, and time of peak ripeness.

When you are done with one apple, turn the page for another. There are more than a hundred of these.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New year's wishes

A very happy 2018 to you!


I am pleased, and a little surprised, to look back on this blog in 2017 and see a healthy number of posts, including 22 apple reviews.