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.

I had tasted Lodi, not a favorite except always the first and always welcome. I've enjoyed Pristine, Williams Pride (yes, I found some), and Yellow Transparent.

Also Zestar, Paula Red, Elstar, and Gravenstein, both green and red. They were early this year, but I had (and still have) some of the wonderful Chestnut Crabapple.

Oh, and Gingergold. Also, by labor Day I'd bought, but not gotten around to eating until last week, Mollies Delicious.

I appreciate them all, in different ways. The standouts for the early season for me are sophisticated Pristine, rich Williams Pride, Gravenstein, spicy and floral, and those flavorful Chestnuts.

Small pile of piebald Chestnut Crabapples
Chestnut Crabs
The main event, though, is the broad swath of taste I get from all the varieties.

I don't seem to have enjoyed Vista Bella this year, which I hope is a one-time miss. There are other varieties I passed on, and others I did not see this year.

But really this is not a paltry haul.

The early season is not quite the desert I sometimes suppose.

Green Lodi and red-blushed Vista Bella apples
Lodi, left, and Vista Bella are the first.

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