Thursday, November 27, 2008

Black Twig *

This is an old Southern apple, reputed by some to have been Andrew Jackson's favorite. And it has a name like a medieval pestilence (or a second-tier superhero.) But what can we say about the Black Twig in person?

A medium-large apple, very firm in the hand, that has a patchy red blush over a green yellow skin. The apple is decorated with small lenticels that are light inside the blush and green elsewhere. Its calyx is closed, and my sample bears one scar from the July 2 hail storm. The unbroken fruit has a rich cider smell.


Black Twig's flesh is a coarse light yellow, juicy, and crisp with a crunch. The flavor is mild and even, not acid, and the skin is thick and chewy. I differ with those sources that describe the taste as "tart," though perhaps a little muted tart snap enlivens the other subdued qualities. Accents are very understated but include cider and cane sugar and maybe a little spice. Or maybe I'm trying too hard. In any case this is a refreshing and light late-season apple.

The apple originated in Tennessee nearly two centuries ago but has sometimes gone by the name Arkansas or Arkansas Black Twig. This has led some sources to confuse Black Twig with Arkansas Black, a different variety.

It's a pleasure to find a variety like this growing locally--I gather they don't generally do well this far north and thus aren't often planted. I got mine at Nagog Hill Farm.

Sorry, I seem to have misplaced my usual photo for this variety. You can search online for one if you like, but no guarantees.

Update: A thoughtful reader took this photo of Black Twig.

Further Update: I've added a later photo of another Black Twig apple. Same variety, just not the one I describe.

8 comments:

  1. I have a wide shot of this apple along with the Albemarle (sp?) Pippin at this link.
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_tJU-kLhAOoU/TLKCtlod-dI/AAAAAAAAFvA/8Q0_G5SQz2E/s400/Apples.jpg

    Going to put a better pic up when I do my taste test later this week.
    great apple info, by the way

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  2. SoJ: Nice photo! May I assume the Black Twigs are in the bin at right?

    Albemarle Pippin is another name for that old variety, Newtown Pippin.

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  3. Right, onteh right...
    here's a better shot.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/tvnewsbadge/5091548408/

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  4. Nice photo, SoJ! I've added a link to in in my review above, thanks!

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  5. Thanks, Adam. We have lived in our house in East Tennessee for 8 years with three of these apple trees. They are very large and old, but produce fruit excellently. We've never had any luck with getting anyone to identify them. Your site as well as some photos helped us determine that they are all Black Twigs. We're harvesting and enjoying them right now!

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    1. Paul I am so pleased to have been helpful. Sort of ironic that Black Twig is one of the few apples here for which I am missing a photo (long story), but we have SoJ's and others.

      Unfortunately the orchard where I found this changed hands and no one there ever seems to know about this variety any more.

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  6. I have a Black Twig tree growing next to Roxbury Russet trees. It is loaded with Apples this year 2015 and the tree is about 12 years old. I live in Andover Mass which is very far north of Tennessee but the apples seem to match the descriptions above. Hard apples, little tart but very nice flavor. It is not quite ripe but it is only later Sept. I bought the tree from Century farm as a semi dwarf tree.

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    1. Tom, Black Twig and Roxbury are some sophisticated choices! Are you a commercial grower?

      I haven't found these since, but my BT grew in LIttleton, not far from you. So I think I agree, it is one southern apple that seems to do well here.

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