Saturday, December 26, 2009

Apples on the Web: Apples of New York

Set the Wayback Machine to 1905 and put your finger on the pomological pulse of New York and the world.

The New York State Department of Agriculture has just published the latest edition of The Apples of New York, including detailed descriptions of every variety then grown in the Empire State (regardless of place of origin).

Today, this work is out of print, in the public domain, digitized, and online.

Look in vain for modern favorites, but thrill to descriptions of lost flavors of yesteryear.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Black Gilliflower

The Black Gilliflower is a large medium apple, ribbed and very conical, of which more below. The "Black" in its name refers to the color, which can be a striking deep shade of red if allowed to mature. On my sample this blush covers most of the fruit, except for one streaky segment. I also note a very deep stem well.

Many small irregular light lenticels decorate the upper half, and there are a few small patchy streaks of russet. The apple has a sweet cidery smell.

I got this apple late in the year and was not very surprised to find that it was well past its prime. However, I am disappointed. The dry flesh--white, fine-grained--was granular, headed towards mealy. I almost declined to review, but instead will post this and then, perhaps, will have a chance to write a new review of a fresher sample some fine Fall day.

Black Gilliflower's flavor is balanced and mild, with notes of sweet corn and grass. The latter is perhaps from the peel, which is not all all bitter.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Don't just take my word for it

I said King Luscious was big, but see for yourself.

His Royal Hugeness looms left; at right is the merely large Macoun, Queen of Autumn. Both flank Wickson just for grins.

My King Lush was a full twelve inches around--one foot--and even when you divide by pi that's pretty impressive.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Northwest Greening

Today's apple runs medium-large-by-large, a yellow-green sphere with slightly raised lenticels, some russeted to brown.

Some of these apples have a small faint rosy blush, and my tasting sample has a dramatic splash of russet spilling out from the stem well.

Northwest Greening's calyx is open and shallow, and the firm unbroken fruit has a very faint sweet aroma scented with pear.

The flesh, a very light yellow with green highlights, is medium fine-grained and a bit dry. It's crisp and dense, with a little give to the tooth. I don't think Northwest Greening is primarily an eating apple.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Where to find local apples in December

For some of us I gather this is not a trick question. However, I live in New England, and mine are in my refrigerator.

I took a little census earlier today. and here's what I have left:

Fifteen russets 
Five Blushing Goldens 
One American Beauty 
Four Cox's Orange Pippins 

The Cox's, which I picked at the end of September, have hung in longest of all and are still quite good.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Golden Russet Cider

In season, Bolton Orchards (map) presses this elegant varietal sweet cider from the Golden Russet.

This clear amber liquid is surely filtered, although the label only notes that the cider is UV pasteurized and has a little preservative added. There is absolutely no residue, and the cider is as transparent as filtered apple juice.

This cider's flavor and aroma are both sweet, light, and with strong pear notes. Had someone told me this was pear juice I'd have believed it.

Compared to regular pressed cider, GR cider is lighter and milder, as its appearance suggest. Like other cider, however, it is best served cold to mute an intense sweetness that would otherwise cloy.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

King Luscious *

The overwhelming impression is size. King Luscious looms like a hulking gas giant in the apple firmament. (Update: More on his size here.)

Certainly his color is not terribly distinguishing, a streaky, somewhat dull red over yellow green. The green of the skin in the stem well is bright and saturated like that of Granny Smith.

King Luscious is decorated with many small light lenticels and has no aroma. He sits firm and heavy in my hand.

Due to His Majesty's girth, I did not follow my usual habit of just nibbling away down to the core. Instead, I sectioned the King with a knife.

King Luscious has wonderfully crisp flesh, halfway between fine-grained and coarse, of a light buttery yellow color. His juicy breaking crunch is very satisfying and unusual for this time of year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What to eat in December

The season is all but over in my part of the world, where "what to eat" is a question of (1) what keepers you've already stockpiled, plus (2) what you choose to buy at supermarkets.

A few orchards, however, are still selling what they have left, on winter hours. If you get the chance, you might still be able to stockpile some good keepers for the month. Here's my report on how some of them fared last winter.

Phil's, in Harvard, was still picking apples the week of Thanksgiving, though I don't imagine that will go on much longer. He will have his excellent unpasteurized cider, and crisp sturdy Enterprise apples, available through December.

This time of year I extend my love affair with fragile Macoun at the supermarkets. The quality can be very good. In the past markets have sold this variety, professional stored, through early February; we'll see what happens this winter.

I have also already seen lovely Ambrosia for sale. Whatever you buy, apples from the Northern hemisphere will be freshest this time of year.

Update: Here's a report on what was good in December.