Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Apples on the Web: A Life of Apples

One of the nicest end-of-season discoveries here was the discovery of A Life of Apples, a young blog about apples from the point of view of an apple picker named Chris. ("Discovery" is perhaps not the right word; Chris introduced himself.)

A Life of Apples joins Fruit Slinger, Apples and Oranges, and the Fruit Blog in the tiny constellation of apple web logs. Each of us write in parallel (or so I see it) but from a particular vantage point.

Chris has been at this since last fall, writing layered, contemplative stories about apple picking and apple folklore (the latter more in the off-season).

I have especially enjoyed, for instance, Chris's informal dictionary of apple-picking slang and his story about apple wassailing.

He also describes some apple varieties including their sports and origins. There's even an apple-sauce recipe.

I hope I am not jinxing Chris by writing about his blog too early, as I especially hope to see what he has to show us during the apple season this summer and fall. It seems to me that he has found his voice and it is very worth hearing. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I got the last one.

Volente Farms says this fruit is named for the Holly Berry whose color it shares.

Maybe all of the other Hollys--the ones sold before I came along--had that luminous shade of red, but I'm just going to describe the one in front of me now.*

It is a large, lopsided (but conical) sample, moderately ribbed, with a streaky red blush that is tinged with a luscious orange pink, over light greenish yellow. It has many small light lenticels and a sweet, almost candy-like, aroma.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Roxbury Russet revealed

A month after reviewing an apple sold as a Golden Russet, I began to suspect I'd had the wrong fruit (as explained here). That was in 2008.

I've since reviewed the real Golden Russet--obviously different--but remained unsure what the original apple was.

It's now clear that the first apple was a Roxbury Russet. Indeed my own description--larger than most russets, somewhat oblate, with piebald russetting--is characteristic of the breed.

I saw this confusion again this fall from another seller. (Meanwhile the first grower sold both Golden and Roxbury this past year, and got it right.)

Maybe the natural variation in the appearance of these two varieties is great enough that either can sometimes resemble the other. The Roxbury Russet I reviewed in the fall of 2009 (center), with russet that is fuller and tawnier than most, looks a bit like a Golden (right) in ways my 2008 Roxbury (left) does not.

Click on any photo for a close-up.

Compared to Roxbury, Golden is generally (but maybe not always) smaller, more russeted, finer-grained, more complex, and crisper.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Piñata - Pacific Rose smackdown

Distinctive Piñata was first introduced into the Northeast last February. Its arrival a few weeks earlier this year permits a comparison with Pacific Rose, another newcomer.

A face-off is hard to resist since they share some lush flavors. Consider this the hibernal battle of the tropical tastes.

Pacific Rose, at right, is smaller, and blocky where Piñata is tapered and more ribbed. (The size difference is less evident in the photo because of the camera angle.) Due the the vagaries of the market, my Pacific Rose came waxed but Piñata didn't.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What to eat in February

Your reports from the field have humbled me.

January's post, trying to describe what apple varieties might be available to you, was a mistake.

This whole monthly "What to eat" series seemed like a reasonable idea when I began last August and downright brilliant in September and October. New England is a grand place for apples in the fall.

But come winter, we New Englanders take our miserable places at the very back of the food queue. The produce-laden trucks come here dead last, and we get the leavin's.

Which as we saw comprise 16 different varieties of apples. This is not too shabby. But it's a poor place to stand when advising the rest of the apple-eating world about what is good to eat.

I've learned some things nonetheless--with your help.