Friday, September 12, 2008

Opalescent **

A few orchards grow "heirloom" apples. Opalescent, which was introduced in 1880, qualifies as an antique variety. Here's the text of the sign that Volante Farms posted over a bin of these apples:

This big, primarily dark red beauty is juicy, firm, and pleasant in flavor. Opalescent was introduced in 1880.

This very handsome apple is large and well-formed, with a blush that runs from deep red (with small light spots) to streaky over yellow-green. It is ribbed with a deep stem well.

The flesh is light yellow-green and very dense--Opalescent is hefty. That and its size make it hard to carve out the first few bites.

Not super juicy but flavorful: mildly tart and sweet, with faint lilac and other floral notes and something that is almost like pineapple and sugar. It is quite fine and satisfying, and it's got a great crunch, with a faint lingering astringency

It is marvelous to taste the flavors of a century ago. I wish I'd scored a few more of these beauties when I had the chance.

9 comments:

  1. Wow! That apple is pretty...

    Adam, would it be possible to inquire periodically about scion wood? Small time growers like myself might like to contact the producer to see if a scion (or two) might be obtained to preserve these wonderful old apple varieties!
    Andrew

    andrew.johnson10@us.army.mil

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  2. Andrew, I don't mind asking if I know what you are looking for.

    In this case, Volente Farm, which sold me my handsome Opalescent, is not a grower. Rather, they sell apples from Clearview Farm in Sterling, Massachusetts. I'd like to visit someday, but I've never been there.

    Another place I only know by reputation is the Tower Hill Botanical Collection in Worcester, which has a collection of heirloom scion wood. It's an impressive collection and includes Opalescent, Cox's Orange, and many others, and they take mail orders.

    I have no clue how well these varieties will fare in the South, but I applaud your interest in growing them and hope you can find suitable heirlooms.

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  3. I WOULD LOVE TO FIND A FARM OR STORE THAT CARRIES THESE. I HAD ONE IN SEATTLE AND CAN'T FIND ANYWHERE TO PURCHASE THEM HERE IN OREGON

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  4. I spent quite a while looking for a place to get this tree. You can get Opalescent scion wood from Maple Valley Orchards maplevalleyorchards.com
    and trees from Big Horse Creek Farm
    www.bighorsecreekfarm.com

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  5. @Anonymous above: Thank you for sharing this, and I hope it will lead to more Opalescent trees and apples in the world.

    I really like this variety and look for it every September.

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  6. Opalescent is a great apple! I have one such tree in my home orchard (140 trees). Wish I had more. Looks like I'll have to start grafting. It's almost impossible to find these trees. (One nursery in California, one in Aus.) I grow about 20 "antiques", including 2 from Mass. I grew up less than 2 miles from where the Baldwin apple developer lived (Col. Loammi Baldwin). Great web site!

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    Replies
    1. I ordered my free Opalescent scion wood from the USDA research station in Geneva NY. They have hundreds and hundreds of antique and heirloom varieties and encourage grafters to use these wonderful old varieties.

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  7. @Anonymous: Thank you! That little apple next to this comment, my avatar, is Opalescent.

    By the way, Col. Baldwin's mansion is a Szechuan restaurant these days!

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  8. I am searching for a shipper of opalescent apples. These are the best apples I have ever had and make the very best apple pies. I haven't had one in over 30 years but still remember the taste. I know they come into season at this time of year. Anyone know of a shipper?

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