Monday, August 26, 2019

Early McIntosh vs. Paul Red Smackdown

Two round red apples

McIntosh is still the King of Autumn in these parts. Consequently, many contenders vie for the role of August regent before Mac's royal debut in September.

Mac isn't available to eat now, so the best we can do is to rate Early McIntosh (L) against Paula Red (R).

Paula is both (1) the most Mac-like of the August earlies, and (2) the only other Mac-wannabee available when Early Mac is ripe.

My two tasting samples today were picked a week after the pair I photographed above. Paula could be a little more ripe but is well in the zone.

Early McIntosh is round and only slightly ribbed, with an orange-red blush. It bears many small light lenticel dots and patches of whitish bloom.

Paula Red is oblate, with slight ribbing only. Its blush is a bit more purple with large light lenticels and a light-colored bloom.

Both apples blush over green, but Early's green is more yellow (suggesting more ripeness).

Paula's appearance is more Mac-like, but both could pass as part of the family (which both are, though Paula's ancestry is not documented).

It’s pretty easy to tell these apart, but if there is any doubt, Paula’s stem is thinner.

But how do they eat?

Early Mac has medium-fine white flesh with a little give in the bite. Its flavor is well balanced with a lean towards the sweet side. The peel is thick and chewy.

Early's flavors include some later-season cider richness. It impresses me not so much an early McIntosh as an early Williams Pride.

As with Williams P, there is the merest bitterness in the juice that leaves a pleasantly astringent finish in its wake.

Paula Red is more tart, despite a little watercore, and her texture is similarly yielding. She is more fine-grained and a little less juicy than the Early Mac. Her flesh is tinted slightly green.

There is a generic berry flavor and perhaps some vinousness. The tastes are not very vivid, but Paula holds together as a snack. In other tastings I have found some lively spiciness.

Paula has a decent texture and is exceptionally well balanced.

I am left with a curious conclusion: Paula is more Mac-like, but Early Mac is the better apple.

There is a redder sport of Paula Red called Dandee Red. They taste the same.

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