Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Novamac *

Two days after Irene, the trees at Hutchins Farm were, thankfully, still full of rippening fruit.

The farm's first apple of the season, Novamac, was ready to eat.

This Nova Scotia–bred variety is medium to small, though I did see one large one in the bin. The squat oblate shape seems characteristic.

Its blush, over a lively spring green, is a cheerful red, streaky at points but well-saturated on the sunward side. Small tan lenticels, widely-spaced, provide a visual accent; some in my photo are russeted.

Inside is crisp creamy-white flesh, more or less fine-grained. The balance is good: noticeable tartness is met by a good bit of sugar, though there is enough acidity to be bracing.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene, goodnight

Though it's a big storm coming, and though we live right next to a flood zone, I am not too worried about home and family safety.

Rather, my thought have dwelt on the fate of this year's unharvested apple crop, which lies right in the hurricane's path.

And, I am not alone.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Summer bounty

Bins of apples at Volante Farms (map) earlier today.

On the menu: Gravenstein, Gingergold, Empress, Jersey Mac, Paula Red, and Zestar.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Too many farmers markets?

Just as Massachusetts celebrates Farmers Market Week come fears that there are too many markets.

Writing from Western Mass. for the New York Times, Katie Zezima reports that in some parts of the country farmers complain of a glut of markets.

Some farmers say small new markets have lured away loyal customers and cut into profits. Other farmers say they must add markets to their weekly rotation to earn the same money they did a few years ago, reducing their time in the field and adding employee hours.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

So you like Red Delicious

Do you love Red Delicious? This popular variety is available in supermarkets year round

But, is it really the best? With so many other varieties, are you sure that there isn't one you haven't tried that you would like even more?

Probably, you know what you don't like: apples too tart or bold or hard or weird, mealy apples, apples you'd regret eating. A shame, though, to let fear of bad apples keep you from exploring this wonderful fruit.

May I help?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Celebrating endangered Gravenstein

This weekend will mark the annual Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastepol, California.

But, the LA Times reports, Gravenstein trees in Sonoma County, California are falling prey to developers and more-profitable grapes.

The 20 square miles of Gravensteins that once covered the local hills are now reduced to one, and the remaining trees also would have succumbed to chain saws were it not for the matchless flavor of their fruits and the determination of a small band of farmers and preservationists.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lodi vs. Gingergold smackdown

Two early-season light-green apples. Lodi (at left) is a small medium, slightly conical and ribbed, with faint green lenticels. In lieu of a blush, the sun-touched region is a shade more yellow.
Gingergold (right) is medium-to-large, a slightly darker hue of Lodi's green. Its shape is similar, with more-prominent ribs ending in distinct bumps at the base.

The lenticels are similarly indistinct areas of a darker green, though on both apples some lenticels are defined by a small dark speck at the center. Gingergold's blush can run to a pronounced streaky orange pink.

Lodi's appearance is more delicate; Gingergold's, more substantial.

In terms of flavor, the opposite is true.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sonya (Nevson)

The happy start of the apple harvest is not when I expected to discover a new (to me) variety from New Zealand at the supermarket. Nonetheless Sonya has finally made it to New England.

Since this is another modern apple bred for export, I begin with a few preconceptions. This apple will be sweet, crisp, and juicy, satisfying but in many ways interchangeable with its sweet, crisp & juicy brethren such as Jazz, Gala, and so forth.

Jaded and cynical I know. But go ahead, New Zealand Apple Empire, surprise me with something different.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I've begun posting about apples on Twitter, the 140-character-limit news-and-networking service, under the name @adapples.