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Fireside *

The thin orange-red blush that partially covers this large chartreuse apple includes some saturated red streaks and showcases many small light lenticels. (The lenticels are harder to see on the unblushed peel.)

I have two, round and slightly, but noticibly, ribbed. One is a little connical. Both have swaths and scars of russet, and there is a little flyspeck, visible at right on today's photo (click for close-up).

This apple is fresh from the orchard and, unbroken, has a sweet fragrance tinged with cider and banana.

Taste test

Inside, crisp juicy flesh is light yellow and more fine-grained than coarse. Fireside has a good sweet-tart balance in which the sugar prevails, though a little acidity asserts itself from time to time.

This apple's delicate light flavors are vinous and slightly floral with a whiff of melon and, briefly at the start of each bite, banana. These are pleasant and accessible tastes that marry well.

After all this, it is not surprising to learn that Fireside's parents include the vinous McIntosh.

The other parent, Longfield, originated in Russia. The union of these two heritage varieties was arranged by the breeding program of the University of Minnesota, which released this apple in 1943.

There seems to have been at one time a view that cold-hardy varieties like Fireside, bred for local conditions, could not possibly be as good as those in other parts of the world.

This notion seems absurd today in light of such commercial successes as Honeycrisp (another UMinn apple), but good old Fireside can hold its own with other modern varieties. I prefer it to Honeycrisp. (And, great name!)

A popular variation, or sport, of Fireside is called Connell Red or Red Fireside. It is said to taste the same but wears a thicker fuller blush.