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.

I bought these firm little apples on September 9.

Chestnut's crisp coarse-grained yellow flesh is juicy and appealingly sweet. There's just a little offsetting tartness. The rich flavor, with a little pear, honey and orange juice, is even throughout. One had a hint of vanilla. These flavors harmonize very well.

Search for this variety on the web and you will find, with little or no variation, the phrase "has a pleasant nut-like flavor," dutifully reproduce as if dictated by some Pomintern Central Committee. Maybe so, but I can't find that taste, other than a whiff of vanilla. I wonder how many of these lockstep authorities take the time to eat the things they describe.

The Chestnut Crabapple is rewarding and fun to eat, and I recommend it to all. It is a little different from the norm but not challenging--this crab doesn't bite.

Update: See how Chestnut Crab stacks up when paired with an unlikely tasting partner.


  1. "I wonder how many of these lockstep authorities take the time to eat the things they describe."

    I wonder if Adam has spent much time tasting apples grown in different climates. Flavor can vary radically from one climate to another. Chestnut is indeed nutty in my climate (Maryland).

    1. @Anon: Nope, what you see is exactly what you get, warts and all. I only report what I taste, which is both a virtue and a shortcoming.

      I do find that many online sources of apple "facts" quote each other, sometimes word-for-word. I consider that to be less a considered consensus as laziness.

      I also find that many apples vary from harvest to harvest. I picked up some Chestnuts last week that were tasty but not at their very best.

      Thanks for describing the tastes you found. I wish more people would do that here.

  2. It's "nutty" here in California too. The same "nutty" flavor found in Margil. I'm not sure what else to call it but nutty, though it is more tending toward rotten nuts to me. I've tasted it in other apples as well. I"m not a big fan of that flavor, though it can be good with cheese and I imagine in a salad and other places. I eat my chestnut crabs before they develop that flavor, at which time they are bright and lively. The nutty thing is distracting and out of place to me. Other people think it's great, as usual, different strokes. Chestnut Crab ripens in August for me. My late tasting notes from the first year it fruited "later, tastes “nutty” or maybe savory, herby, like old seafood, elderblossom? peculiar, not sure I like it." I agree that the copying of descriptions is an unfortunate and all too common phenomenon.

    1. So far 2 data points for nutty, both from more temperate climates than the one that informs my samples.

      Maybe I'll get to try a nutty one someday. Meanwhile I really enjoy these, and find myself thinking of them as mini-Cox's.

  3. BTW, I also think it's a beautiful apple. Mine go somewhat translucent with multiple layers of texture and color. Definitely not in a supermarket way at all. It would make a great watercolor subject in the old school of fruit rendering. One of the most beautiful apples I've seen I'd say. Someone painted it here:

  4. Pomintern! I love it! One gets the impression that fruit people are completely unable to describe things in their own words, with so many sites saying the same thing, word for word. If you google "would be handsome espaliered," you get seven hits, six used to describe the King David apple.

    1. If that's not self-referential enough, when I follow your advice and google "would be handsome espaliered," the middle of the page is a link to this post, courtesy of your comment!

      (At least it is today.)

    2. The problem of mindless copying of apple descriptions, some of them grossly inaccurate and/or misleading, is serious and, sadly, not limited to flavor. It has confounded assessments of disease tolerance, vigor, and even identifying characteristics of the cultivar itself to the point that one has to regard descriptors (even from nursery catalogs and extension publications) with a wary eye. I call it "cut-and-paste" disease.


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