Sunday, September 28, 2008

Jonathan *

Jonathan is very much a classic apple, still justly prized after two hundred years.

This medium-sized apple has a striking appearance: a deep purplish crimson sparsely accented by small light speckles in places. It is clasically round with light ribbing.

Jonathan's flesh is yellow, fragrant, medium-dense, and somewhat tender, though it chunks off nicely.

The flavor of this apple is very different from the crisp tart-sweet blends of the McIntosh family, though there is both tartness and sweetness plus a nice astringency. The flavor is full and cidery, a little spicy with strong pear notes and a hint of melon. I'd like to have some cider made from this variety.

Some sources trace Jonathan back to 1864.


  1. My favorite apple, I love the tartness. And it cooks well, also, but when you make a pie, you need a lot of them!

  2. Wish I could find these in Virginia! This is the definitive apple!

  3. Jonathan was the first heirloom apple I ever ate, as a six-year-old in my best friend's Wenatchee apple orchard which mostly grew galas, Fuji's, and red delicious. It's still one of my very favourites though I've recognized some shortcomings as I've tried to use it in other ways. The other heirloom I met there was winter banana, which they used as a pollinator and I still love when I can get one. I'm living in Hong Kong currently and the Asians seem to not like punchy apples. Everything I can get here is as bland as a Fuji, except granny smith, which are rare. All the apples here also have a chemical taste that makes your mouth pucker a bit after a few bites. I miss apples. Thanks for all these lovely descriptions.

    1. Thanks for the note, Alice. Winter B increasingly hard to get around here, but I look for it every fall.

    2. I'm not surprised. There it was used almost exclusively as a pollinator, and in the new tall spindle systems they use crabapples because they take less maintenance and bloom heavily. I miss the old standard orchards with giant trees. Winter banana is not exciting enough to wow modern tastes, especially if picked green, and it matures late, after red delicious. My aunt and uncle had a red orchard that they eventually tore out and planted blueberries, and it was pollinated with mostly winter bananas. After the reds had been picked and lost their leaves the WB would finally ripen and I had them mostly to myself. Maybe this makes them too late for New England?


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