Friday, December 30, 2011

Karmijn de Sonnaville (Karmine) **

This Dutch apple has an attractive dark orange-red blush over a muted green that blends with sandpaper-colored russet. Large lenticels are similarly russeted.

I've only got one sample, a large medium or small large, but have no idea how typical its size may may be.

Karmijn de Sonnaville is an offspring of the exceptional Cox's Orange Pippin and shares some of its qualities. The flesh is fine grained and light yellow, and the flavors are balanced but with some acidity. Some Cox-like flavors, such as orange and mango, pair with a peppery spiciness.

Compared to Cox's Karmine tastes more acid and spicy and lacks Cox's nutty qualities. It's a first-rate apple with flavors that are big, bold, and lively. More of this sort of thing, please!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Black Oxford redux

David D'Angelo of Hawk Farm in Maine gave me a few of these earlier this year, the best examples I have had yet.

I'm not replacing my 2010 tasting notes for Black Oxford, but here is a post script.

These were nice and dark, a deep red with both purple and mahogany overtones. Many light lenticels of varying sizes are sprinkled across the dark like stars in the night sky. Biting in shows dense white flesh with streaks of red from the richly colored peel.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Where the good stuff is

If you enjoy this blog but skip comments from your fellow readers you have been missing out. Especially this fall.

We've had tasting notes from all over and check-ins from orchardists and writers far more knowledgeable than I.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Today we borrow a word from the Very Serious World of wine and ask, Is it a useful way to think about apples?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Maiden's Blush **

This small medium apple is light yellow, sometimes with a green undertone.

The eponymous blush is a very light orange red wash with specks of intense color. The result is like a poorly mixed oil-and-water emulsion or flecks of pigment in oil.

It's a very striking effect.

Maiden's lenticels are small, sparse, and dark; some in the blush are stained a deep saturated red. My sample also bears a corona of russet in and around the stem well and the usual superficial blemishes.

The apple is firm in hand with a sweet fruity aroma.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Star Song **

Oops, no photo for this one! So, picture a big yellow apple, ribbed, with a very partial light orange blush that is streaky.

David D'Angelo, an apple farmer from Maine, shared one of these with me in November. Our sample has cracked a bit around the crown where the apple grew too fast "like an heirloom tomato," as David said.

There are large dark lenticels and a cidery aroma with more than a hint of the Golden Delicious.

Star Song has light yellow flesh, fine-grained, with mild well-balanced qualities that showcase a hit of banana and, we agreed, something else tropical (though we could not lay our tastebuds around exactly what).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pomme Gris vs. Ashmead's Kernel smackdown

Pomme Gris (left) meets Ashmead's Kernel in a medley of fall colors
I was lucky this fall to bag two superlative russet varieties, Pomme Gris and Ashmead's Kernel. These were the best examples of these varieties I have ever had.

So which is best?

Friday, December 9, 2011

King David

A nice tart apple, but also a reminder to take my reviews with a grain of salt.

Today's heirloom is small and classically shaped with very little ribbing. Its red blush, streaky to saturated, covers half to most of the yellow-green peel. David's lenticels are small, dark on the green and light on the blush.

Squeezing one feels very firm, and there is a faint mossy smell.

The flesh of King David is medium-fine-grained and white shot with green. This apple has a great crunch and is a little chewy.

For taste, there is refreshing tartness balanced by some sweet, along with some active acidity. Cane sugar and lime notes leave a nice clean feeling in my mouth.

I'd want one of these guys as a chaser or as part of a medley of apples. Despite the acidity I nibbled David down to the core.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wild apples from the Father of Apples to the Big Apple

An alert reader notes the following account of a project that is planting wild apples from Khazakhstan in New York City.

Apples are from Kazakhstan, where the name of the capital city, Almaty, comes from an older name meaning "Father of Apples."

The New York Times's Matt Flegenheimer details a tree planting on Randall's Island, in the East River across from 100 to 125 St.

The project reminds me just a little of the Boston Tree Party around here.

Hooray for civic fruit!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hear Cox's Orange Pippin rattle

The seeds of Cox's Orange Pippin are said to rattle inside the apple. However, I've never found one with pips that did.
Until now.

I am pleased to bring you this sound, probably an internet first.

Click to play, or download the audio file.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lady Apple (Api) *

Today's apple may be the oldest variety I ever will taste. These are crab-apple sized and when Lady is bearing her branches are festooned with small fruit so thick as to resemble garlands of apples.
A garland of Ladies contra-dance against the October sky
A closer look at this ancient variety below the fold.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Although this word is sometimes just a synonym for apple, especially one that is green and tart, pippin's pomological meaning is an apple grown from seed. Not grafted. Wild, even.

Newton Pippin
(It also is slang for a person or thing that is exemplary, a corker, a right good one. Another meaning is just a pip, a seed.)

In its apple sense pippin is the opposite of the word cultivar, a plant variety developed and propagated via human cultivation.

Simple enough, if you don't look too closely. But think about it and your brain will itch. Because those pippins we know and love? They are all propagated by grafting.