Tuesday, April 21, 2009

McIntosh - Macoun Smackdown

I put this special review into storage back in October.

Today we'll compare two of the Fall's most popular varieties, McIntosh (L) and Macoun (R).

That the two apples resemble one another is no surprise--Macoun is of McIntosh extraction, like Empire, Cortland, and so many others. McIntosh is rounder and has a streakier blush, while Macoun is more obviously ribbed and often has a deeper color. Macoun's light freckling lenticels are smaller and more distinct than McIntosh's. If I judged a book by its color I would say, advantage Macoun. The appearance of each of my samples, however, is within the range of natural variation of the other.

Their flesh is similar in color and texture: a fine-grained snowy white, sometimes with green highlights. Both are satisfyingly juicy. The Macoun is crisper, which I like, but both are crisp when reasonably fresh.

Both apples have a nice balance of sweet and tart, and enough acidity for a vinous effect without going overboard. The Macoun is a little sharper--more acid--and more complex, with stronger and more-diverse spice and floral notes. Macoun's strawberry flavor is also more distinct--the berries in McIntosh are subdued and generic. The Mac has a mellower flavor that is probably more tolerant of minor unripeness.

My personal favorite? Macoun, but McIntosh is really a top-notch treat too.

Note that the Mac is popular enough to be stored and sold off-season in supermarkets. They're not always stored and handled with the care and respect they deserve. These apples may sometimes be the best of a poor set of choices, but if you only know McIntosh in this way you owe it to yourself to get a bag of the real thing right off the tree, in season.


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