What an apple, what suavity of aroma. Its initial Madeira-like mellowness of flavour overlies a deeper honeyed nuttiness, crisply sweet not sugar sweet, but the succulence of a well devilled marrow bone. Surely no apple of greater distinction or more perfect balance can ever have been raised anywhere on earth.
This lovely russet with the charming name has a rosy orange blush beneath its suede overcoat. Unblushed skin is green. It is a small medium and has large lenticels that are all rusetted over. The fruit's calyx is open but very shallow, and it has a pleasant faint smell of tea.
I got two of these in early December, past their prime. I've tasted Ashmead's Kernel once before, and though I did not record my impressions I remember strong lemon and sugar notes and crisp firmness. The example shown in my photo is the only one I have seen with any sort of a blush. It's attractive, but possibly overripe.
The flesh is a firm tender coarse yellow, tart and quite sweet with nice citric acidity. I find when a stored apple has lost some crispness or flavor that the area around the equator of the fruit goes first. Tasting around the poles of this sample still yields some lemon-drop flavors, also faint hints of pear and nutmeg. Try Ashmead's Kernel for yourself if ever you get the chance.
In the best of all possible worlds I would taste every fruit at peak. In this world I found these in a supermarket that had a box of heirlooms from an orchard in New York. (Credit where due: this was not just any supermarket.) And I am glad to get them, along with two Esopus Spitzenbergs that I will taste soon.
According to Staub, Ashmead's originated in Gloucestershire 300 years ago but was not introduced in the U.S. until the 1950s.