Sunday, March 28, 2010

March reconsidered

At the start of this month I called March the bleakest in the apple year, so far from the harvest and all the keepers gone.

But events proved me wrong.

Lady Alice, available here for the first time, is only sold in March.

Macoun persisted in the supermarkets.

Piñata returned.

My last Blushing Golden, belatedly discovered and awakened from its suspended animation in my refrigerator, proved sound and sweet.

Every year is different and every day brings something new.

As a side note: During the off-season my monthly "what to eat" suggestions might be equally useful in any month of the winter and spring (if at all).

My March recommendations might have been more apropos for April, while the ones I am working up for April would also work in March or May.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lady Alice **

To my surprise and pleasure, there's a new variety to try. In March.

I am holding a medium-sized apple with an orange-red blush over yellow that is tinted with a little green. There are darker red streaks in the wash of the blush, and tiny dark lenticels that are widely spaced.

The fruit is well-formed, slightly ribbed, and firm. There's a little russet in the stem well and the calyx is loosely closed. Her faint sweet aroma suggests both apples and pears.

Lady Alice's light-yellow flesh is more fine-grained than coarse, and hard, crunching off in satisfying juicy chunks.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The happy persistence of Macoun

In September Macoun is an outright marvel, crisp and satisfying, bursting with juice and flavor that are vinous and complex.

It is pretty wonderful in mid-winter too, when the last are trundled out from their refrigerated controlled-atmosphere vaults.

Too fragile to cut it as a year-round industrial apple, Macoun is nonetheless popular enough to sell well past the season's end. To my very great pleasure.

Most years I bid bid a wistful goodby to Macoun in the first half of February, but this year a local Whole Foods has sold these, incredibly, into March. (Credit where credit is due: it can only encourage them.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Adam's Apples on tour

You may notice a few familiar faces in the Apple Gallery of the New England Apple Growers Association this spring. The growers are borrowing a few of my apple photos to fill in until the next season, when the association will shoot its own.

Unfortunately for everyone the varieties they needed include some of my earliest, and least worthy, efforts. I am nonetheless pleased (and flattered) to fill in. (Maybe I'll reshoot some of these myself this summer.)

This is somehow my 200th apple post since I started this project in July of 2008.

Things have slowed down a bit since that first season (when I wrote 87 posts in the first six months), but I'm still learning, still hungry, and still have something to say.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Golden vs. Roxbury Russet Smackdown

They make a distinct family of apples, yet all russets are not the same. The Golden and Roxbury varieties are so alike that some growers and sellers mislabel them (to my confusion).

So, let's set the record straight.

On our left sits Roxbury Russet, an oblate, slightly ribbed medium-sized apple. Sometimes know as the Roz, this is one of America's oldest cultivated varieties. Its russet is patchy, for a piebald effect, and the color of the russet itself is a gray coppery brown, on skin that is spring green. The calyx is partly open.

At right, Golden Russet is also middle-sized and of similar shape to Roxbury, though I should say that the ribs are slightly more pronounced. I bought many of these (they are great keepers), and my tasting sample, as shown in the photo, is one of the larger ones--most are a bit smaller.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Macs vs. the (honey) Crips

Last week the Evil Fruit Lord, proprietor of the Fruit Blog, woke from his hiatus and posted a link to an entertaining news story about up-and-coming, waiting-in-the-wings apple varieties. Welcome back, lord of evil fruit, and did you see your shadow?

Buried in the article was this tidbit:

By 2005, the province of Nova Scotia was offering subsidies to anyone who ripped out their McIntosh fields and replaced them with Honeycrisps.

So, fruit-on-fruit violence? Honeycrisp moving in on McIntosh turf? Ripping out old trees for the promise of gold years down the road?

Talk about evil fruit!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What to eat in March

Here in North America, unless you have some redoubtable Arkansas Blacks stashed away, March is the bleakest time of the apple year.

It's been five months since the harvest, and reenforcement won't arrive from the Southern hemisphere until April. The first local apple is still a season away, leaving most of us with the basic industrial apples from which to choose.

Fortunately those are still sound and sweet. My personal five favorites are after the break.