Monday, February 7, 2011

Apples of January (2011)

Strange to say, it was in January when the poverty of the 2010 harvest really hit home.

We ran out of Macouns, one of my favorite varieties, at the start of the year. Usually I enjoy them through February or March.

The autumn harvest was buffeted by hurricane winds and peculiar spring weather: exceptionally early apple blossoms followed by, in some places, killing frost.

As if to fill that void, bags of tiny Piñatas showed up at Trader Joe's markets at the start of the year, a good five or six weeks earlier than other years.

The Piñatas were welcome, but were not of the same jewel-like quality as the initial roll out of this variety two years ago.

Possibly they would have been better after another month in storage. Many late varieties seem to benefit from time to mature.

(My Atlanta corespondent reports some loose Piñatas of less-than-stellar quality.)

I looked for, but did not find, any Ambrosia apples in January. This is another new variety brought forth with much marketing fanfare a few years ago.

There are still some McIntosh, though this variety does not hold its own quite as well in storage, and plenty of Empires, to provide that vinous accent to my apple diet.

If you are wondering what to buy in January, note that this particular January was atypical. You might enjoy my buyer's guide, not just for January but for any of the winter and spring months when we rely on imports and stored fruit to keep us going.


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