Monday, August 31, 2009

Duchess of Oldenburg

Today's variety, Duchess of Oldenburg, runs medium-sized with a pinkish blush in pronounced streaks over yellow green. The apples are ribbed and wear many green lenticels a little darker than the skin. My tasting sample has a little russet in the stem well, and her calyx is closed.

The Duchess is renowned as a cooking apple, especially if picked a little early (as I suspect mine may have been). But what would you have me do? Suppose I did cook some into a pie (or a pancake). Yummy for me, but there would be no frame of reference to compare these apples with the other sixty-odd varieties I've reviewed.

So I'm just going to stick to my old habits and eat this one raw.

Duchess has white flesh shot with green highlights, very juicy and on the coarser side of dense. The effect is light, like a Gingergold though not so sweet (or crisp, but crisp enough, with a little yield to the tooth).

The sweet-tart balance falls, for once, on the tart side. This might not please some, but I find it refreshing. There is also a hint of lime and a little acid. (Since these are not unusual notes in an apple that is picked a little early, I can't know if they are truly characteristic.) I also got a flash of vanilla.

I am sure the tartness shines in cooking.

Duchess of Oldenberg was imported from Russia "about 1835." (There's a nice description at Vintage Virginia Apples, though Virginia seems to have gotten the dates wrong.)

Like many summer varieties, Her Grace oxidizes quickly.


  1. We have one Duchess tree at Backyard Orchard. It's always the first apple to ripen, and it's tart and mealy as hell. Definitely a cooking apple.

  2. Since you were brave enough to try D/O raw, may I suggest you look this August for Nutting Bumpus? It is both my fruit comment moniker & a seedling of D/O, looking & acting much like its seed parent with greater sweetness (or less acid). I grafted Nutting Bumpus this year for my yard & will report in the fullness of time about it.

    1. Well, Nutting Bumpus, I am not afraid to try Nutting Bumpus! The trick will be to find some.


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