Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Finding your apple

A reader asks,

I just have one simple question where can I buy Russet Apples, NOT the tree the actual apples.

You could swap in almost any variety for this request. One fellow wrote to me three times asking if I could ship Baldwin and Northern Spy apples to him, and would I like his credit-card number. (Needless to say, I do not grow apples--I just eat them.)

Monday, September 27, 2010


Senshu, a daughter of Fuji, is slightly ribbed and runs from medium to large. She has a red blush over yellow-green peel, starred with large lenticels that are dark, except in the blush. This variety is firm and smells sweet.

Senshu has delightfully crisp light-yellow flesh, on the coarse-grained side and juicy. The flavor is light and sweet with just a suggestion of balancing tart. There is a hint of cider and corn syrup, and also something very like melon, celery, and B-vitamins, though these are faint.

The peel adds a vegetable note to the finish. Flavors of a second and riper tasting sample were more assertive.

This is a pleasing variety with an Asian (or at any rate Japanese) aesthetic, light, sweet, and crisp. Senshu's other parent (with Fuji) is called Toko.

Note: Revised slightly in 2011.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gray Pearmain *

Gray Pearmain is a medium-to-medium-large apple, oblate with barely any ribbing. Its peel is a pale yellow with regions of pale yellow-green. The closest thing to a blush is a small rosy tinge.

My tasting samples bear many inconsequential marks of Nature's affection: russet, fly speck, sooty blotch, and other imperfections. The fruit feels firm with a faint promising fruity aroma.

The Gray Pearmain's flesh is crisp and firm, a coarse pale white. Its flavors are nicely balanced though on the sweet side of that range, something like a russet but without the lemony acidity. There are honey and pear, something like an Asian Pear, and a kiss of vanilla. These are subtle and mild.

This delicate, elegant apple is a pentimento of a gentler age that should appeal to many tastes both callow and sophisticated. Kudos to Hutchins Farm for growing it. I nibbled mine down to the seeds.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Golden Supreme *

Today's handsome apple runs to to large: a shapely, conical, and slightly ribbed fruit. Its yellow skin has green highlights. Some sport a small, delicate orange-pink blush, nearly transparent.

There are many small lenticels, most light-green, some dark (perhaps with russet). The calyx is partly open, and there is faint sweet aroma.

Golden Supreme's flesh is crisp, coarse-grained, and light yellow. It bears juice with some of the honey-and-pear qualities of a Golden Delicious, but lighter and less complex. The flavor is more sweet than otherwise but well balanced, and the firm but juicy flesh is satisfying to chew.

This uncluttered refreshing variety is easy to enjoy and would make a pleasant addition to a tasting assortment.

I almost passed Golden Supreme by, thinking it was "just" a minor sport of Golden Delicious, but according to The Natural Food Hub it was a chance seedling found in Idaho around 1960.

Monday, September 20, 2010

99 apple reviews on the blog, 99 apple reviews...

To mark my impending 100th variety review (hooray!), I have added to this blog a page of the images of all my apples.

I like to look at them; if nothing else, they document my journey as a pomophile (and photographer).

If you are seeking a particular variety, your best bet is the alphabetical list in the sidebar at below right.

But if you want to quiz yourself, or match an unknown apple you have in hand, or just see a lot of apples, each of the thumbnails will provide you with the name of its variety on mouse hover, and a link to its full review.

A link to the visual page joins the tabs at the top of the page, or you can just
Read more»

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Early Spy (NY75423-30) *

This apple doesn't really have a name. It is identified by the grower as Early Spy, but that is a purely local title, neither patented, trademarked, nor enrolled in any one's Registry of Fruit Names.

Instead it is known to the fruit world (if at all) as NY75423-30, which identifies it as a product of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The solar orchard

This is what a quarter-megawatt looks like.

Carlson Orchards, in Harvard, Mass., has installed a two-acre photovoltaic array to power its operation.

I viewed it for the first time on September 6.

It's quite the largest of its kind that I have seen.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wealthy **

This large medium-sized apple is round with only a faint trace of ribbing, a cheerful yellow-green partially covered with a streaky blush of vivid red with orange accents. The lenticels are a slightly darker green on the skin and lighter in the blush.

Wealthy feels reasonably firm and has no appreciable aroma.

The flesh is a somewhat tender--but crisp--medium-coarse white tinged with yellow, bearing juice that is tart but not unbalanced. There is a little banana, lemon-lime citrus, something like tart strawberries, and some fizzy acidity. This constellation of tastes approaches the vinous quality without hitting it dead on.

Wealthy's flavors are layered, interesting, and refreshing, with a pleasantly astringent finish. Tart-averse palates might be better off with Mollie's Delicious (I bought these two varieties the same day), but for my taste buds Wealthy gives Gravenstein a run for best of August.

Wealthy was first recorded in Minnesota in the 1860s, an open-pollinated seedling of a Cherry Crab. For a charming history of this variety, including the meaning of its name, click here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Olympic apple

The mountains are Olympic, wreathed in cloud, as seen from across the Hood Canal in Washington State.

The apple is an early Shamrock from Pike Place Market, Seattle's justly famous green market (map).

I bought a few of these out of curiosity and confusion. They do not look much like the Shamrocks I've had here in Massachusetts, in fact I thought these might be Lodis. They are way out of season for Shamrocks.

Also the grower confidently explained (I am such a sucker for that) that they were a Granny Smith - McIntosh cross, something I am quite sure I have never tasted. So I thought they might be something new.*

Monday, September 6, 2010

Nearly ready

On the tree at Nagog Hill Farm earlier today.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mollie's Delicious *

There was such variation in the bin of Mollie's Delicious that I could not find a typical sample.

Most ran large to extra-large and were both ribbed and conical--more so than in my example, and a few with such exaggerated ribbing as to look strangely emaciated.

All had a streaky red blush that nonetheless manages to be quite rich in places, a very handsome color. This is over a green-tinged yellow skin.

Mollie has a very deep stem well and tan lenticels that range from tiny to large. It feels quite firm unbroken and has a very faint sweet aroma.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Apples of August (2010)

So, August is just a prelude to September, when the real Apple action ramps up. Right?

Any week that offers a choice between between rich and mellow Williams' Pride, spicy Gravenstein, and Tydeman's Early Red (a wonderful old variety) is a great week for apples. I heartily recommend any of these.

That was just the second week in August, when I also found unusual Empress.