Friday, November 18, 2011

Domine (Dominie) *

The larger of my two samples is medium big, classically shaped (though lopsided) with just a hint of ribbing. The smaller sample is oblate. On both, a dull red blush covers nearly all the yellow-green surface to differing degrees of streaky translucency. Tan lenticels of varying sizes irregularly mark the surface.

The larger apple had a few soft spots, from handling or perhaps Tropical Storm Irene, and was generally inferior. That's the one I photographed, but my tasting notes are based on the smaller, better Domine.

That one's flesh is medium-grained, white with a greenish cast. It's got a crunch, though a yielding one, and the peel is chewy but not bad. Domine's flavors are well-balanced with some sprightly tartness. It's a slightly vinous and there is also a little acidity, but there's also a good portion of initial sweetness, along with vanilla and spice.

Then the peel interrupts with some dull vegetable flavors, followed by a marvelous finish, very delicate, with vanilla, spice, and caramel. That is the reward for eating this hard-to-parse apple!

I enjoyed this apple better once I stopped analyzing it. The first sample, which I tried again, ended up in the trash.

My one good sample may have been picked before its peak. Accounts of this apple on the web (and in old books digitized and similarly online) describe a yellow peel (not green) where unblushed, and flesh that is firm and creamy, not (as I found it) yielding and green-tinged.

Today this variety is rare and I bought mine at Tower Hill where, once a year on Columbus Day, the facility sells apples from its conservation orchard. It's a remarkable resource, but not all the fruit is perfectly ready to harvest at that time.

Some of the above sources say that Domine first appeared in Maryland in the 1830s, but Calhoun says it's older than that. Also, he says, the apple was "widely grown in the south before 1900," often under the name Dominie.

Calhoun provides some other names, including Striped Rhode Island Greening and English Rambo. There's an English apple of the same name, but others assert this Domine, of American origin, is a distinct variety.

1 comment:

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