Monday, September 28, 2009

Burgundy *

True to its name, this handsome apple has a very deep purplish-red blush, accented with light lenticels. The apple itself is a large medium of classical shape with just a suggestion of ribbing.

The blush on my sample is its full deep saturated color over half of the apple, and the rest is light and streaky. The only unblushed skin, in the stem well, is a light and vibrant green.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

One perfect apple

Yesterday I pedaled out to Nagog Hill Orchard in Littleton. This is an agreeably bare-bones pick-your-own place, but of course you can buy by the pound and they have a lot of trees and varieties from which to chose.

There's not a lot of room in my bike bag and I only bought one, a Macoun. The woman behind the table helpfully offered a paper towel to protect the apple, a nice thing to do because Macouns bruise easily.

By the time I got to Bedford all the little jostles and jounces had rubbed that apple inside the paper towel to fine polished perfection. I did not pick the apple with looks in mind, especially, but it was one pretty specimen, tapered, lobed, and glossy, with lenticel freckles seeming to rise from the base of the apple like bubbles in a champaign glass.

Sorry, I did not have my camera with me, and besides sometimes you just have to go with the flow and enjoy.

Exercise and appetite make the best sauce, but this was about the most perfect apple I can remember, each bite a crunchy chunk of balanced flavors soaring in a vinous sea.

Consider this the best time to get your hands on some Macouns; they are at their peak, at least around here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sansa *

This conical, medium-sized apple has a light red-pink blush over a bright green yellow peel. Its "ribs" are apparent in the photo. The blush has two discrete parts, a light translucent pink and a more-saturated orange red. There is some russet on the blush and in the stem well. Lenticels are dark, and the apple has a faint sweet smell.

Sansa's flesh is light, crisp, white, and coarse, with a delicate crunch. Its flavor is generally sweet, but washed out, with a little tempering tartness. Hints of sugared grapefruit, cane sugar, and grapes add interest.

Refreshing, light Sansa makes a great palate cleanser, or have two for a snack. This variety was fresh at the start of September.

CF Fresh (now called "Vivaterra," for goodness sakes) had an entertaining account of how this variety, a modern Akane-Gala cross, was first bred.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Milton *

Excellent Milton is a medium large apple with a blush that runs to a deep red over a green yellow. Its many irregular lenticels are a darker green (though not in this photo--see below).

The fruit is classically shaped with just a little ribbing, and there are some minor scratches that look like fine lines of russet. It has a faint grassy smell.

Milton's flesh is firm and crisp, a fine-grained snowy white. The flavor suggests a sweeter McIntosh (one of Milton's parents, with White Transparent): balanced and somewhat vinous, with berry notes. There is also whiff of citrus and spice. This is a very satisfying snack in season.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chestnut Crabapple **

"Ugly, but sweet," said the sign for these little gems at Farmers market.

Ugly? I beg to differ.

These small ribbed apples have an orange red blush over yellow, with light green lenticels. My three tasting samples are each different. One is mostly blush, and one is mostly russet (with little blush). Today's photo showcases the one with some of everything.

"Striking" I would say. "Not airbrushed barbie-doll perfect," I grant you. But ugly? Click here (or on the photo) for the close up and say that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pristine **

This striking small medium fruit is light yellow with light green lenticels. It is ribbed and has little bumps, or "chins," around the calyx. My sample has some russet in the stem well and a mellow aroma that suggests pear and Golden Delicious.

Pristine's flesh is tender with a little snap, a coarse light yellow. The balance tends towards tart, with lemon, pear, and vinegar notes. These pretty little apples taste as bright as they look. There's a nice astringent finish. I think Pristine would make a sophisticated accent in a salad of greens.

According to the breeders of this apple, Pristine ripens a full month (or more) before I bought mine on September 2. I'd like to to try these right off the tree some year.

Update: I did and they are great; details here.

Further Update:
I now rate these at two stars, "worth seeking."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jonamac *

Bonus question first: With the name "Jonamac," what could the two parents of this apple be? This variety is a straightforward blend of many of Jonathan's and McIntosh's fine qualities, with an emphasis on the Mac.

Jonamac has a streaky dull red blush over a bright spring green, decorated with light lenticels. It is medium large and ribbed. My sample is slightly conical and wears a few spots of flyspeck.

Its flesh is white and medium-dense, with both crunch and juice. A good sweet-tart balance sets up a pleasing vinous effect, with berries and a little spice, and some real depth.

Despite my posting date, this is an early apple—I bought mine on September 2. This Jonathan-McIntosh cross is very successful at bringing some Mac-like flavors at the start of the season.

Update: A reader says my sample is really too early and that Jonamac peaks around the end of September.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Redfree (Red Free)

The name refers to this apple's (a) color and (b) resistance to disease and general ease of care.

Red Free is a classically shaped apple, ribbed and medium large. Its red blush ranges from streaky to saturated over light yellow green. This coloring is decorated with faint light lenticels. Its calyx is clenched tight.

Red has white juicy flesh more dense than coarse, crisp but not breaking. Its flavors are mild, balanced, and light. A slightly vinous quality adds interest.

The official name is Redfree, as bestowed by the cooperative apple breeding program of Illinois, Indiana and New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Stations. The colloquial two-word version is also used.

Red is that rarity, an early apple and a good keeper. I suspect my sample was at least a month off the tree when I bought it in New York City on September 2. It would have been crisper in early August, but is not bad a month later. Still I'd be inclined to pass it over at the start of September, when so many interesting choices abound.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Big Apple

We spent last week in New York City--not for the apples but, happily, apples there were.

New York is a great enough city to draw all good things to it; moreover it sits near farms and orchards in the fertile Hudson Valley, Long Island, and New Jersey.

Travelers who want to touch the land and lives of the places they visit could do worse than to visit markets where local food is sold.

Monday, September 7, 2009

What to eat in September

September is a transition month. Some orchards don't grow any early apples. But by the end of the month high season is well underway.

Some of last month's picks are still in season. I was surprised to find some good Gravensteins at Nagog Hill Orchard yesterday, and there are Gingergolds and Zestars.

I also look forward to finding more Tydeman's, reviewed last week, and handsome, elegant Opalescent, one of my favorites from last September.

The big event of September, however, has to be the debut of Macintosh and Macoun, two magnificent apples with rival fan clubs. (You can compare them side by side and judge for yourself.)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tydeman's Michaelmass Red *

Large, ribbed, and lobed, this cross of McIntosh and Worcester Pearmain wears a red blush over spring green, with many light lenticels visible in the blush. One sample is lopsided, with odd lobes and scars; the other more regular and with russet radiating from the stem well.

Tydeman's flesh is tender crisp, a dense white with green highlights. It is sweet with tart, faintly vinous, with suggestions of light maple syrup and cider (see below) and delicate hints of unripe melon and caramel. This is an elegant apple with subtle flavors; it goes down easily. The chewy peel is not unpleasant.