Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Washington Royal (Palmer Greening) *

The variegated skin of this ironically named antique mixes shades of yellow green and green yellow in an attractive way. You can see what little blush there is, faint spotty brownish orange, in the photo on the tops of the lobes of this ribbed apple.

The lenticels are dark and the peel--see it shine?--is waxy.

This variety is also known as Palmer Greening, which was apparently the more popular name in New England. It is hard to know which name to use today, but it is mostly an academic question, since it is so little grown.

Whatever name, unbroken it is very firm in my hand and has a sweet grassy fragrance.

The flesh is coarse-grained creamy yellow, juicy, and mild. Washington, or Palmer, is what the old timers would call "sub-acid," balanced with a hint of tartness but having no appreciable acidity--on the sweet side, if anything, but not at all cloying. The result is refreshing and delicate, with some vinous and floral hints and cane sugar, and it brings a nice crunch.

Palmer (or Washington) is yet another rewarding antique variety that would be completely accessible to modern tastes. For those willing to listen to flavor, this variety still has something to say.

Apples of New York tells us this variety originated in Sterling, Massachusetts. Writing in the 1899 American Gardening, F. A. Waugh compares this apple to a "minor poet" and says it is one of

those apples which have achieved some local reputation and which have persisted year after year without the public approval.

He concludes,

Good things are found sometimes among the minor poets, and good apples are sometimes found among the "minor varieties."

American Gardening 20.222 (1899):221


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