Tuesday, September 6, 2011

McIntosh vs. Novamac Smackdown

McIntosh (left, above) is the New England fall classic, more than a century old, that ripens in September. Novamac (right), half Mac itself, is the upstart from Nova Scotia that shows its face 1 or 2 weeks earlier.

Spoiler: Nobody touches the Mac (except maybe Macoun, and that is debatable). But the point is not to replace McIntosh but to see how well Novamac lives up to the second half of its name.

One bit of luck in this comparison: my Mac, though picked at the very beginning of September, was a prime sample, not green or sour the way that any apple can be if picked too early.

Novamac, a small-to-medium apple, is noticeably oblate. It's mostly covered by a red blush that runs from streaky to saturated, and is decorated by sparse small light lenticels.

McIntosh is bigger, rounder, and has a slightly bluer red, also streaky to saturated. (Nova's red is tinged with orange by comparison.) Both are slightly ribbed and both have similar lenticels, small and light, though Mcintosh has more of them. Mac's unblushed green skin is a bit more subdued than the bright spring green of Novamac.

Despite the above differences these attractive apples look very much alike. To my jaded eye Mac is prettier, but that could be because decades of eating them have laid down a kind of prejudice.

In any case, beauty is only skin deep. How do these eat? And is Nova a worthy waiting-for-Mac substitute?

Both apples have excellent fine-grained texture, crisp snow-white flesh that breaks off into satisfying juicy chunks. Both have sweetness and tartness in good measure, to create the kind of balance within which the magic happens, in both cases involving hints of berries and the classic vinousness of so many New England apples. Both have a wonderful lingering dry finish in the mouth and throat.

Nonetheless flavor is where McIntosh really distinguishes itself as one of the greats. Without being less sweet than Mac, Nova is also more tart, with acidity that I find bracing but that some might not appreciate. Consequently, Mcintosh's sweet-tart balance really is superior and shows off its flavors to better advantage.

And those flavors! Richer than those of Novamac with fine cidery notes, and the Mac's berries-and-wine tastes really shine. Unlike some pairings that showcase complementary flavors, this one put Novamac's flavors at a disadvantage.

So: no contest. Yet as an early appetizer a week or so before the Macs are ready, I rate Novamac highly for its top-notch texture and clean authentic flavors.

1 comment:

  1. Hallo,
    wo kann ich Alfelbaum Novamac kaufen


Join the conversation! We'd love to know what you think.