Saturday, October 31, 2009

Coromandel Red (Knottenbelt Red, Coradel) *

With its cherry-red blush, tapered profile, and prominent light lenticels, today's photo suggests nothing less than an enormous strawberry.

Coromandel is a medium-large apple, ribbed and conical. The lenticels are rough and slightly extruded, providing an unusual tactile sensation.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Westfield Seek-No-Further **

This variety wins a spot in my unwritten list of especially marvelous apple names. It came my way courtesy of a generous reader.

Specifically, Seek-No-Further reached me via U.S. mail, carefully packed, eight scarred apples of small-medium size. Each has a ruddy red blush, streaky over green yellow, and an oblate shape that is ever-so-slightly ribbed. There is a dull brownish bloom, which is not terribly attractive (it washes off), and large light lenticels that are widely spaced.

My samples display many superficial defects, from fly speck to what I take to be sooty blotch, and even a few small holes that may be caused by insects. (Click here or on the photo for a warts-and-all close up.) There's a little russeting in the usual places--the stem well and some of the lenticels.

I brave these for you, gentle reader, and also because they are really no big deal.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

American Beauty (Sterling) *

Today's apple grew in the same orchard where this variety was first discovered one hundred and fifty years ago.

American Beauty, large, round, and ribbed, has a dark red blush, sometimes streaky, over yellow green. Russet, rough to the touch, gives this fruit a sandblasted aspect. Lenticels are light, on the large side, and numerous.

My apple feels quite firm and smells of cider.

It takes a little effort to bite into the Beauty's dense, juicy flesh, which is medium coarse and the color of light yellow cream. Her flavor is delicately sweet, with hints of refined sugar; there are some generic floral and (nearly) vinous qualities too. Despite her size and heft, American Beauty is light and delicate.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gray Apple Riddle

A reader asks whether another name for Pomme Gris is "Grey Pearmain."

My answer follows, but if you know better, drop us a line in the comments.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A fresh Empire

Available nearly year round, this durable variety is a personal mainstay in the winter and spring, when they are shipped from controlled-atmosphere storage to the supermarkets.

I've already reviewed Empire, but since I eat so many of these felt I should, for once, try one fresh from the orchard.

That's the story of today's apple: the grower picked it, put it in a wooden bin with its brothers, and drove it to Arlington's farmer's market on October 7. I bought it and ate it, as follows.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Great Maine Apple Day

This year's annual celebration and exploration of apples in the state of Maine is this Saturday the 24th.

The event is sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, in Unity, Maine.

Activities include cooking workshops, apple and cider tastings, an expert panel (to identify your mystery varieties), and the fellowship and good cheer that ripens where apple lovers gather.

Thanks to Kenn for this information!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Roxbury Russet *

A local apple—Roxbury today is part of Boston—these are medium to medium-large and only partly rusetted over spring green.

Some have a coppery blush. The patchy russet is a grey brown and the underlying colors show through a little.

Roxbury's lenticels are small and often rusetted; some are larger and slightly raised. My samples run from ribbed to slightly ribbed, with a closed calyx, and are quite firm in hand.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Liberty **

This medium-sized apple has a splotchy, streaky blush that is quite a deep purplish red in places; the unblushed skin is a light yellow-green. It is slightly ribbed.

The lenticels are tiny, sparse, white, and insignificant, and there is a good deal of harmless flyspeck, perhaps because this apple grew on an organic farm.

The apple has a sweet vinous smell mixed with cider.

Liberty's flesh is wonderfully crisp, a fine-grained white tinged with creamy yellow. Its flavor is similarly light and crisp, with a good balance of sweet and tart but distinct citrus notes, like melon with lemon. There is a little bit of a vinous quality, and some depth, though nothing like a McIntosh or Macoun. Liberty is a very refreshing and enjoyable apple.

Liberty was bred by that apple powerhouse, the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, from Macoun and a noncommercial variety. This variety resists disease, making it a good choice for an organic farm, but its lively flavor commends it at least as much as its vitality.

More on Liberty from its breeders here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Splendour (Splendor)

This apple is on the large side of medium, ribbed and conical. Its coloring is subtle, a dull faint pink blush over light green, with green lenticels.

Splendour's flesh is quite crisp and medium-fine-grained, white tinged with green, and juicy. Bites chunk off satisfyingly.

The flavor is balanced with a very little vanilla caramel, and is slightly vinous, though these flavors are mostly generic. This is a pleasant apple that is easy to eat. There is a slightly metallic aftertaste that does not linger.

Trees of Antiquity says that this variety is also know as Starksplendor and is a late-season apple. If so, my samples were early, but did not taste green. I bought mine on September 24 at Arlington's Farmers Market.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Buffalo nickel

They stopped making these in 1938. This one was minted in 1923, a year before my mother was born.

You could buy an apple for a nickel back then. Baldwin was still the most popular apple in America.

These coins were growing scarce when I was a kid. I remember being amazed when I got one in change back in the 1980s.

So today I bought some of apples, including some promising heirlooms, from Volante Farms. (You have to love this time of year.) I gave the man a ten and got back a single and some change, including this guy.

How many of these are still in circulation? What are the odds?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Spartan *

This medium-sized apple, bought at farmers market on September 30, has a glossy deep red blush that is half saturated and half washed out. Lenticels add a sparse decoration of tiny light spots, and one of my tasting samples has a few crackles of russet on the skin.

Spartan's flesh is medium-fine-grained and white with yellow highlights. It is very crisp and juicy, sweet with just a little tempering tartness. The even flavor is slightly vinous, with floral notes and a little spice, recalling its McIntosh parent. It is sweeter than Empire, which it somewhat resembles.

If McIntosh or Macoun is too tart for your tastes, you might give refreshing Spartan a try.

The product of a breeding program in Western Canada, Spartan was introduced in 1936. It is a cross between McIntosh and a variety that is unknown (other than not being Newtown Pippin, according to Wikipedia.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Brogdale and the National Fruit Collection

It's been nearly a year since I briefly described the searchable catalog of apples in the National (UK) Fruit Collection.

This database profiles nearly 2,000 apple varieties, the most extensive available online. It had been hosted by Brogdale Farm, in Kent.

Since then, Brogdale and the Collection have reached a new relationship. The National Fruit Collection, including the catalog, is today curated and administered by the University of Reading.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Suncrisp (but early)

The growers around here seem to harvest Suncrisp in mid to late October. All but Nagog Hill Farm, who had these for sale on September 19. I asked about this, to be told, Just let them sit for a few days.

I waited a week, but I'm not convinced these were really ready to eat. Read and judge for yourself.

This variety runs to large medium, conical, ribbed, and very firm. The skin is rougher than most, and bright green, with a pale pink blush that covers about 20% of my sample. There is a crown of russet radiating from the stem well, and tiny faint lenticels are all but invisible.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What to eat in October

October roars in like a pride of lions--at least in terms of the breadth of choice in what you can pick or buy at the orchard, farmstand, or farmers market. By Halloween, however, the riot of choices will have dwindled.

In the mean time, enjoy!

McIntosh and Macoun, king and queen of autumn, belong at the top of any list of apples to buy this month, at least in the Northeast. Indeed these beauties are at peak now, depending on where you live.

What are you waiting for?