Friday, November 14, 2008

Newtown Pippin (Newton Pippin) *

What is the name of this apple? Red Apple Farm sold it to me at Lexington's farmers market under the name "Yellow Newton Pippin." Wikipedia tells us, "Green and yellow varieties are sometimes distinguished but it is not clear that they are in fact distinct cultivars," and lists it as the Newtown Pippin (and a parent of Gingergold). As "Albemarle Pippin" Vintage Virginia calls it "the most famous of Virginia apples" and dates it back to 1700.

This fruit is green, not yellow, with a streaky spot of a faint dusky rose blush and faint, small lenticels, some of which are light and some russeted. A patch of russet is clustered around the stem well.

The apple is attractively lopsided, like some modern objet d'art, with one great bulgy shoulder hunched over the smaller side. It has noticeable ribs. The "eye" at the very center of the base (the calyx, actually) is open, a tiny brown five-pointed star. The fruit is firm and has a faint sweet grassy smell.

Newtown's flesh is a crisp creamy white with yellow highlights, fine-grained, and juicy. The flavor is tart and moderately acid balanced with sweet, with hints of lime and cider. The overall effect is astringent, lively, and refreshing.

Promoters sometimes represent other apples as an American version of the popular Granny Smith. Although no one seems to have made that comparison with respect to Newtown, this is the only variety I have sampled that has anything like Granny's fundamental tang and crunch.

Many sources recommend letting the taste mature; these notes are from a fresh-picked apple.

Twinleaf Journal, the publication of the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, has an engaging history of this apple redolent of tricorne hats and Yankee Doodle. A short meditation on the Newton Pippin (clearly the same apple) from the 1993 New Yorker magazine is also entertaining.

Update: This apple has its own advocacy group.


4 comments:

  1. I grow both Yellow Newtown Pippin or just Newtown Pippin and Green Newtown Pippin.

    The Green Newtown Pippin is a little more green in the color of the skin. But the main distinguishing feature is that Green Newtown Pippin has contorted limbs like a Contorted Filbert.

    Derek A Mills
    Hocking Hills Orchard
    www.hockinghillsorchard.com

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  2. The Bewtown Pippin was developed by the Prince Family Nursery located in Flushing NY. It is the first American Apple. It was bought from the nursery by Jefferson ,Franklin etc prior to the Revolutionary War.

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  3. She's not just the mother of the Gingergold. Newtown x MacIntosh = Spartan. Newtown x Ribston Pippin = Cox Orange x Red Delicious = Kidd's Orange x Golden Delicious = Gala (and many others thereafter). There are others. This is the greatest apple ever grown in British Columbia.

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  4. Harold, thank you. I had no idea that Newtown was even known widely in BC.

    I say, though, are you quite sure about the Cox's connection? I have never heard anything about Newtown and Cox's before, though there seems to be a general assumption that Ribston is Cox's dam. The UK National Fruit collection just lists Cox's sire as unknown.

    I'd be interested in knowing more, if you have a reference or a link. Cheers!

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