Friday, January 29, 2010

A singular breed

A friend in California reports finding Arkansas Blacks for sale this month. Others have expressed interest in this apple too.

Now is not a bad time of year to eat these, if you can get any.

I guess I think everyone should try one of these once. What you do after that is entirely up to you.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Apple TV

Though somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright, it's gray winter where I live. A good time to throw a log on the fire and curl up with, um, informative internet videos about apples. Really.

I first stumbled onto one of these at Apples and Oranges, where Kevin Hauser, the blogger/nurseryman-in-chief, had made this video about bud grafting.

The video is hosted at Kevin's YouTube channel with other apple videos. It's one of my favorites, making good use of the medium to show, in four action-packed minutes, how you make an apple tree by grafting budwood onto rootstock using nothing but a utility knife, a pair of clippers, and some tape. (Any tape, according to Kevin.)

I didn't know how this worked. Do you? There's even theme music.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pacific Rose (Sciros) **

The soft pink blush of this apple suggests that 1990s designer hue, "Dusty Rose."

The apple itself is generally a large medium, with ribbing that gives many a blocky, rectangular aspect.

That dusty-rose blush is variegated, and there are large tan lenticels and an open calyx under the base.

The unbroken fruit has a firm feel and a sweet aroma.

The fruit's flesh, a striking golden yellow, is crisp, coarse, and juicy. That juice is sweet with no balancing tartness, and the skin is a bit chewy in the finish. There are floral notes and also something generically tropical in the mix: my tasting brain keeps circling around banana, mango, tangerine, and coconut but can't quite latch on.

Now, maybe these tastes would be better differentiated in a sample that was fresher from the tree. Maybe I just need a better brain. (I did find some distinct, if brief, pineapple in a bite from the calyx end of my second sample.) In any case, these elusive flavors, and most of all P. Rose's wonderful crisp juicy texture, make this worth seeking out.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Apples on the Web: Apple Journal

What do you say about incomplete labors of love?

On the one hand, the Apple Journal lives up to its wonderful motto, "A Passion for Apples."

On the other hand, where did that passion go? Work on this site apparently stopped--abruptly--in 2004.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What to eat in January

Of course the answer to this depends on where you live. Here in New England the farmers' markets are done and the question is, what's at the store?

We are blessed, if that is the word, with the presence of several major supermarket chains near my neighborhood. Instead of making any particular recommendations about what to eat, this month I'll just survey what is available.

After all, you probably know these apples. Still, if you see something you haven't tried before, bite it!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Today's medium-sized breed wears a light red jacket, somewhat translucent, over light green. The apple is round with such slight ribbing that I can realy only find it by running my fingers over the surface.

The sparse, large lenticels visible in the photo are an eye-catching accent, the more so since they are only on the top hemisphere of the fruit, but this variety has many smaller dots lower down. It smells very faintly of cider.

Freedom's flesh is a gently crisp creamy yellow, between fine-grained and coarse, and juicy. While still good, my sample is, in fact, on its way to mealy. The flavor is mild with floral notes, caramel, and a little spice, reasonably well balanced between sweet and tart. There is a quick fleeting tart accent about halfway into each bite, and the peel dominates the finish.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's thanks

Writing this blog has brought me many rewards, some quite unexpected.

I'd hoped for readers, but did not foresee how you would enrich these apples with your comments, many sharing more knowledge than I do (or have).

You've posed interesting questions and given me ideas and leads for columns.

This year, one of you astonished me by buying rights to one of my photographs. This is a line of work I hadn't realized I was in. The experience inspired me to take more care with my photos.

One of you even sent me some very fine apples to try.

I am tremendously flattered by your attention and only hope what I return is half as meaningful.

A very happy new year to you all.