Sunday, October 31, 2010

Swaar *

The green apple with the Dutch name is on the large end of medium-sized and moderately rubbed.

Beneath all that superficial sooty blotch (this is from Tower Hill's very-low-spray heirloom orchard), Swaar is two-toned, a bright spring green over a greenish yellow.

There is a subtle hint of orangey coppery blush in a few spots; click on the photo for a better look.

Russeted lenticels are all but lost in the intricate tattoo of russet, flyspeck, and the previously noted blotch.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hutchins Farm

A mile north of Concord's historic

rude bridge that arched the flood

where, in Emerson's words,

once th' embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

is Hutchins Farm, an organic farm with a small but diverse orchard. I have been eating--and reviewing--apples from these trees for the past month.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Apple haiku

Apple leaves of gold

trees at Nagog resting now—

yet red fruit remains.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Davey **

Davey (rhymes with "savvy," not "gravy") is medium-sized, conical, and lightly ribbed. Its attractive red blush is a little striped and streaked over a yellow peel that is much greener at the crown than the base.

Large green-yellow lenticels are prominent in the blush--many at the base thinning to none at the crown.

Davey's calyx is partly open. The apple is firm and has a pretty cidery aroma.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Brigham Farm Stand

What impressed me first about this little farm stand was the hand-written note warning that the Macouns were "not at peak" yet. (That was in early September: the Macouns have been pretty wonderful for the past month.)

Since then Brigham has surprised me with several unusual varieties. But the sign signals a respect both for apples and the people who appreciate them.

Located three miles south of Concord Center since the early 19th century, Brigham no longer grows its own apples. It's still a good place to buy them, though.

I found a healthy selection of some sixteen varieties, changing a bit each visit. These include popular apples like Macoun but also such lesser-knowns as Golden Supreme, Suncrisp, and even Winter Banana, an heirloom.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Smokehouse *

An unexpected perquisite of this blog is that sometimes people send me apples to try. (Okay, twice. But a man can dream.)

Today's variety is just such a gift, picked and mailed in early October.

Smokehouse, named for the proximity of its ur-tree to a Pennsylvania smokehouse, ranges from medium to large.

The streaky blush of this round apple includes some dark red stripes. Large tan lenticels set off the blush handsomely, presenting as dark green in the yellow-green unblushed peel.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Awesome *

Hutchins Farm reports that this apple, a sport (apparently) of Empire, has no name. Nature abhors a vacuum, so we will use Hutchins's home-grown appellation.*

This sport is very large and moderately ribbed, with a red blush that is mostly streaky over a bright yellow-green. Many small light lenticels decorate the blush, which manages to be quite dark in places, and as the photo shows there are some jagged swaths of what I take to be russet. (Or perhaps it is something else?)

Fameuse (Snow) *

This variety is either old or very old, and may be a parent of the popular McIntosh. There is a family resemblance.

Fameuse is a medium-sized apple, round and firm, with a red blush that is streaky in most places over yellow-green (about a third of the skin is unblushed in my samples). Its calyx is closed.

The flesh is indeed a snowy white (shot with green highlights in my case), crisp and dense-grained. Snow's flavor is balanced and vinous with berries and caramel, and without much acidity. It is a little Mac-like, pleasing and fine. Some later samples, less crisp (but still good) also have some coconut flavor.

Monday, October 18, 2010

28 from the market

Thanks to a reader for forwarding this link to New York Magazine's micro-reviews of 28 apples.

The authors made their picks from 60 varieties bought at the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan (map).

Lucky Rose Golden *

This pretty variety, a large medium, is mostly an unblushed yellow. Though the blush is often streaky, it ranges from a saturated red to a faint orange-pink wash. (It's quite solid on one sample). The lenticels are dark.

Lucky is ribbed and well-formed, a bit conical.

The flesh is a coarse, juicy yellow, satisfyingly crisp. Its simple, sweet flavors embrace some of the qualities of a Golden Delicious, with a hit of ripe pear and a little pineapple, which is faint but provides a nice counterpoint. Lucky Rose is sweet, but has enough tartness to stay tasty.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A walk in an orchard

Last weekend I had the pleasure of a tasting tour through an orchard of 119 heirloom apple varieties.

This remarkable collection, conserved and curated by the Worcester County Horticultural Society, lives today at the Society's center at Tower Hill in Boylston, Massachusetts.

Worcester Horticultural's Joann Vierra in action.
For more than an hour we walked from tree to tree while volunteers cut slices of apples fresh off the bough, the autumn sun and breezes in our faces and hair.

Meanwhile the society's horticultural director, Joann Vieira, told us about the apples, quoting Spencer Beech's Apples of New York extensively.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reinette Simirenko (Wood's Greening) **

This large-medium - sized apple is conical and distinctively ribbed: one jutting corner of my sample cleaves the air like the prow of a ship.

The peel is delicately colored with green streaks over a lighter green, but some samples have a small fragile pink blush. There are light lenticels, and my sample has flyspeck, sooty blotch, and a corona of russet flairing out fron the stem well.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sister of Fortune (NY428) *

Like Early Spy, this is another apple with a purely "local" name. But it beats "NY428," this apple's official designation as part of the breeding program of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.

Sister is named for her relationship to the better-known Fortune, which was originally NY429.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Deep red

The blushes seem more saturated and intense to me this year. Above, Chestnut Crabapples cluster around Melrouge.

The crabs are sadly not good to eat this year, dry and mealy (though firm to the touch). Their uncharacteristic deep color may be a symptom of too much heat or time on the tree.

However, fiery, russet-blasted Melrouge is excellent.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Elstar *

Elstar is generally medium-sized, with some variation. It is moderately ribbed with a streaky red blush over yellow, and with tan, nearly invisible lenticels (a few have dark specks in the center).

This apple is firm with a sweet aroma that suggest the Golden Delicious variety. (Aptly so, as it turns out.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Looking for something?

Maybe you found this blog by looking for something (on Google, for instance).

Here are some search-related tips about links, labels, sidebar links, comments, photos, search, and other features.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Spigold *

Crossing Northern Spy with Golden Delicious can get you a huge apple, at least if Spigold is any indication.
This lopsided, oblate, and very slightly ribbed variety has a dull red blush streaky over a light green yellow. Its light tan lenticels look smaller in the blushed area.

Unbroken Spigold feels hefty and firm with a sweet cidery aroma.

Inside, this variety's yellow flesh is coarse, juicy, and satisfyingly crisp. Crosses like Spigold do not always produce a recognizable blend, but in this case the flavors neatly bisect those of its parents. The apple is sweet but (mostly) balanced by a little tartness, and presents both Northern Spy's spicy flavor along with the honeyed richness of Golden Delicious.

The result includes a little pleasant vinousness. This is a fabulous combination of flavors and I had no trouble polishing off my very large sample. The flesh oxidizes quickly.

I wonder, are these good in pie? Because I don't think you'd need more than one or two.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Views from an orchard

A few trees did not survive hurricane season at Nagog Hill Farm

Yet many apples remain to be picked (Photos October 2)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Apples of September (2010)

September starts with a parade of interesting but short-lived summer apples and ends with some of the finest varieties at their peak.

This year I was especially interested to see how Spring's unusual weather would affect the harvest. One grower had wildly predicted McIntosh in mid-August (even as he was selling Lodi apples harvested much too early).

We dodged that particular sign of the apocalypse, though the same grower was selling russets in mid-September that were pretty much ripe. (These were not very flavorful, though.) I started eating Macouns the end of the first week in September that were very good, though not at peak. That's a bit early but not beyond the pale.