Thursday, August 30, 2012

Three-star apples

Today I am please to introduce the third and final category in my qualitative system of rating eating apples. I also name three varieties that in my opinion deserve three stars, "exceptional apple, worth a quest."

Three-star apples, eaten at their peak, have superb flavor, texture, and appearance. Like the one- and two-star apples, they may be partially selected on the basis of being particularly good representatives of their type or having a special place in the history of the fruit.

None of the ratings give any weight to whether a variety is an heirloom or originates as a foundling pippin or is rare.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

NY 652

No name. Not even a nickname. This is just NY 652, of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.

But the grower, Samascott Orchards, tell us that 652 is "like Empress"—as well it might be, as that named variety's original number was NY 651.

This medium-sized fruit has a blush over spring green that runs to a deep crimson. The blush covers most of the apple though only some is darkly saturated. The many tiny lenticels are faint on my photographed example, nearly invisible on another.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Good and bad news for the apple harvest

This year's apple harvest in New England is "bountiful" and early, but meager in the Midwest and elsewhere, according to the Boston Globe.

Globe Corespondent Wesley Lowery writes today that

while New England orchards are enjoying an early harvest, most of the nation’s top apple-growing states have seen their trees decimated by drought and late spring frosts.
Michigan, the nation’s leading apple-picking hub...will produce just 3 million bushels of apples this year, compared with 23 million bushels in a typical year, according to the Michigan Apple Committee.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Summer Treat

I've just finished the last of two Summer Treat apples, described by the grower as an "early Red Delicious type." This is reasonably accurate, though Treat and RD are not related.

Instead we have irregular, somewhat ribbed fruit on the smaller side of large. A red blush with darker streaks covers about half of each apple over a yellow-green peel. The apple wears many lenticels so tiny as to be nearly invisible.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Red Comet

The grower of this apple had sample slices at farmers market, so even before I bought any of these I had an opportunity to form a fleeting impression of watermelon candy and, perhaps, banana.

To make things even more intriguing, the grower admits that "Red Comet" is just a nickname, and indeed there's no information about it as a named variety at all.

What is in a name? This is large and round, slightly tapered, with almost no ribbing at all and a tightly closed calyx. A pretty candy-apple-red blush contains deeper carmine stripes and showcases many large tan lenticels.

The unblushed peel is a pale yellow green that almost seems to glow. Unbroken there is a faint cidery aroma.

This is the first new variety (new to me, that is) of the year and I am naturally excited to taste it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mcintosh vs. Paula Red smackdown

I do not always see these two together, but in 2011 Paula Red's season lasted well into September and overlapped quite a bit with that of McIntosh (left).

That raised an interesting question. In August, when the markets are full of inferior generic "early macs," Paula (right) seems the most genuinely Mac-like in texture and flavor. So how does she stack up against the real thing?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Two-star apples

I am pleased to introduce the second of three qualitative ratings for apples, along with 38 varieties that, in my view, deserve at least two stars (of a possible three).

Two stars denote apples that are "excellent, worth seeking."

Like the rest of the rating system, this judgment is based on eating qualities of the best samples that I could find. It snubs, perhaps unjustly, some varieties renowned for cooking or cider.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Eat this apple NOW

The best apple of the summer, Gravenstein, is at peak now in most places where it is grown. If you see this heirloom for sale this week, seize it with both hands.

The same goes for Grav's sporty cousin, Red Gravenstein.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

More apples in a starring role

With this post I introduce the last of the apples I rate as "very good (worth choosing)" or better.

All together I name 121 apples that deserve stars according to a qualitative rating system. From these I will identify a smaller number of two- and three-star apples.

These ratings are based on the eating qualities of the best samples I could find. I did not have peak examples in every case, so ratings could change based on further experience.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Green apples

The word on the street is that we're having another early harvest brought on by a warm spring.

But here it is August and every single local apple I have had so far has been unripe.

I'm still glad to have some of these, mostly, but I'd be gladder to have them ripe a week later.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

More apple stars

Last week I introduced new qualitative ratings for apples. Today I name another 41 apples that I am evaluating.

All of these deserve at least a one-star rating, which I define as "very good, worth choosing." Some will go on to win two and even three stars.