Arkansas Black is a Southern apple and I am fortunate to have found some growing right here in Massachusetts.
These run on the small side of medium and have a dull blush that runs to deep purplish red on the sunward side, with small light lenticels. The unblushed skin is yellow, and there is a little crown of russet around the stem well.
The apple is very firm and, for its size, heavy, with only a very faint apple aroma.
The flesh is fine-grained, yellow, very crisp, and dense. Arkansas Black might cut the redoubtable Blue Pearmain, not that I have one to compare. The fruit is reasonably juicy but has so much matter that the juice gives out before the apple, leaving a dry impression. It oxidizes quickly when cut. And, it's really filling.
The Black's flavors are sweet, tart, and acid. The highlights are unusual and challenging: hint of pear and something like tobacco. The finish is nicely astringent.
I can't imagine this distinctive variety being hugely popular today, but I am enjoying mine. I have been curious about this variety ever since a friend from Atlanta described one to me four years ago.
Arkansas Black is said to be a phenomenally good keeper. The apples I purchased may have been picked as much as a month earlier. I plan to hold a few back to see how they mature in storage.
Black has its own entry in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, including its history and other lore.
Note: This is the last of my hoarded apple reviews, though at this writing the Arkansas Blacks that I have are still good. I still have a few more things to show and to tell, too.
Update: These held up magnificently! I ate my last Arkansas Black on May 4.