Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Autumn Glory

This classically shaped large apple has a streaky red blush over a waxy yellow. Mine are ribbed, one of them strongly so. Small sparse lenticels are not prominent.

Autumn Glory has a nice firm squeeze and a sweet cidery aroma.

Inside is coarse crisp yellow flesh, very juicy. There are simple sweet flavors and a great crunch, with corn syrup and faint mineral notes. One sample has a bit of sea brine. Another presents, briefly, B-vitamin tang.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Zabergau Reinette *

The shape and size of this unusual and pretty apple varies considerably, but all are a cheerful spring green dominated by copper-colored russet so metallic it shimmers, no place more so than in the many large lenticels.

The example shown is quite large and very oblate. There were many such; I picked this one to show the slight blush, which was less typical. (Or perhaps it's a sunburn.)

My other unblushed sample (photo below) is smaller and more classically shaped, also representative. Both are a little ribbed and have a faint grassy aroma. Both are rock hard in early October.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Snow Sweet *

Today's large round apple, very lightly ribbed, has a thin red blush with some deeper stripes over a green yellow. Tiny light lenticels are hard to see against this backdrop.

The shade of red is a little dull but the peel has a high satiny gloss. Sweet aroma, closed calyx.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Gold Rush vs. Blushing Golden smackdown

Gold Rush (L) and Blushing Golden on a day in late fall
Two ribbed, conical, yellow late-season keeper apples with partial red blushes, in between medium and large. Blushing Golden, at right, is larger, yellower, and with a livelier, more-saturated orange-red blush.

Gold Rush is more elongated and conical, with a streakier and more-subdued bronze-red blush over a more-subdued green yellow, flecked with brown.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Galarina *

Galarina is classically shaped, ribbed with distinct "chins" at the base. It's large, though not quite as big as pollen parent Querina.

This apple has a blush that is deep and saturated at its greatest. On more-shaded quarters the red fades to a wash with some stripped variation.

There the green-yellow peel gives the apple a slight orange tint. Overall the blush covers 80 to 90 percent.

The lenticels are small and indistinct in the darkest blush, larger elsewhere. Galarina has only a faint sweet aroma.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A soggy curtain falls

It rained on the last farmers market in Davis Square, Somerville, today.
Here in the Boston area the last remaining farmers markets call it quits the day before Thanksgiving.

That's today, and it poured. Some regular Davis Square vendors decided not to bother.

Nonetheless there were 11 different varieties of apples for sale today.

A bittersweet end to a memorable harvest.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rubyfrost *

Today's new variety is a large apple with a deep and even red blush randomly studded with tan lenticels. The only unblushed peel, a tiny patch in the stem well, is more green than yellow

This sample is misshapen, lopsided and with a great dimple in one side (not shown). I think its ideal shape is rounded with very moderate ribbing that really only shows at the base.

I like odd shapes and this attractive apple feels very solid and sports a cidery aroma.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rubinette *

My tiny Rubinette is in rough shape.

There's a bruise in the middle of its streaky red blush. The unblushed yellow-green peel is wrinkled. Squeeze this classically shaped, slightly ribbed apple and there is give.

And yet.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Querina (Florina)

This large handsome apple is blushed an attractive red that is quite saturated on the sunward side.

Coverage is so complete that it is not possible to see any unblushed peel, but it must be a shade of yellow because the more-attenuated blush takes on a slight orange tinge.

Querina, or Florina, is conical, classically shaped, and ribbed with distinct lobes and also bumps at the base. Light lenticels provide an attractive accent, and one sample has patches of a smoky-blue bloom. Another has a lightning bolt of russet down the side.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Senator *

Medium sized and oblate with next to no ribbing, Senator has a pure red blush that at its deepest is dark and saturated, with none of the purple tones that characterize many deep red apples.

The blush is more orange-red where thinner. Coverage is nearly complete.

The peel is otherwise yellow tinted green, and tan lenticels (generally small and numerous below, large and rarefied aloft) add dramatic contrast. Senator is a looker.

The apple feels quite firm with only a faint musty aroma.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ashmead vs. Ashmead

Ashmead's Kernel. The one on the left was picked 2 weeks too soon.
Two Ashmead's Kernel apples. One picked too early. Six weeks later, what difference does it make?

Let's find out.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

King (Tompkins King)

This large apple is oblate and a little lopsided, lightly ribbed.

Its streaky red blush, tinged with orange, covers about two thirds of an otherwise green yellow, though in places that blush is so attenuated that it is not always possible to say exactly where it ends.

This sample has light lenticels, numerous, small, and indistinct at the bottom of the apple, and larger, spaced out, and noticeable on top.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hauer Pippin

My Hauer Pippin is, unfortunately, almost certainly too early, but with that warning I shall share this placeholder against the day when I have a peak sample to taste.

Mine is an oblate apple, a bit bulgy and closer to medium-sized than to large. Ribbing is only evident in faint bumps at the base.

Hauer's blush is a dull wash of red splashed across a saturated spring green. Lenticels are light on the blush and largely dark, probably with russet, elsewhere. There is a ragged circle of russet in and around the stem well.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

NY 315 *

This large yellow apple looks and smells like a Golden Delicious.

It's perhaps a little more squat, and the blush, when there is one, is different, a streaky orange pink with a hint of copper.

(Golden Delicious will blush if you let her, but the effect is more solid, like this.)

The green lenticels are a little different as well.

But the classic conical shape, the moderate ribbing, and the rich cider-and-honey aroma all suggest Golden D, in the family tree if not in the flesh.

It has an open calyx and is quite firm.

The curtain falls

Some of the urban farmers markets (Somerville, Boston, and elsewhere) will stay in business though Thanksgiving. But today, Halloween, marks the end of the market season in the suburbs.

Belmont's farmers market ended today with a bit of seasonal rain.
By the luck of the calendar, it usually falls to Belmont to ring out the end of the season. There were 25 different kinds of apples for sale there today.

I am always sorry to see things end, but they do that this time of year. It was a splendid harvest.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Arlington finale

Today was the final day of Arlington's farmers market for 2013
Yesterday was Lexington's seasonal farewell. Today was Arlington's turn in the low autumn sunshine. Tomorrow will be the last market in Belmont until 2014.

The Davis Square market continues through Thanksgiving, but best to get there before dark.

There was a great assortment of dollar-a-pound apples today. But make no mistake: The harvest is in, dusk comes early, and winter is coming.

Sutton Beauty **

Medium-sized Sutton Beauty has a dark red blush, a little dull and a little streaky, speckled with small tan lenticels that are grouped mostly away from the deepest-blushed region.

The peel is a lively spring green but nearly entirely covered.

Sutton is classically shaped and has only a hit of ribbing visible at the base.

In hand it is rock hard and has a strong aroma of sweet cider.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

So long to so many markets

Many local farmers market close this week until next year. Lexington, shown, strikes its tents in just a few minutes.

If you were there, you could have gotten many old favorites, as well as Ida Red and Arkansas Black.

See you next year!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Golden Blush

From the outside, here is the only way that Golden Blush is not like Blushing Golden: It's a lot bigger.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hidden Rose (Airlie Red Flesh) **

This medium-sized apple (many quite small) is elongated and conical. The not-so hidden blush is a solid fuchsia-tinged red over yellow green, but there is also a thin peach-pink wash of blush, delicate and pretty, over much of the back and sides.

Small light lenticels stand out against every background. In the right light they almost seem to glow.

There's moderate ribbing, and a thick stem in a shallow stem well.

The apple is rock hard with a sugary sweet aroma. Its calyx is shut and an unusually thick stem emerges from a shallow stem well.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Notes on a bumper crop

We won't have final numbers for a month or so, but there has been every sign that this fall's is a blowout apple harvest.

After last year's bad-weather debacle, that is welcome news.

One indicator is prices. Honeycrisp and Macoun commanded $3 a pound last year. Last week I saw both for a third of that.

Economists need look no further for a demonstration of the effects of a growth of supply on price, all else equal.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Russet Beauty *

This striking sample is small and oblate with minimal ribbing. The bumpy, textured coppery brown russet covers all, though it is thin enough in spots that the underlying green peers through.

Judging from a tiny area at the lips of the (closed) calyx, this is a vivid saturated viridian.

This one smells gently yeasty and has a very slight give when squeezed.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

For further reading

I suspect a lot of you come here for information about a particular apple.

If I've done my job right, though, some of you stick around to see what else there is to see. (Here's my "how to find stuff" page.)

Beyond that, you may also be interested in the work of another fellow who tastes and reviews apples over at The Fruit Gardener.

I've reviewed that site before, but he has been busy this fall, and worth a second look.

Finally, I've reviewed a number of apple-related web pages. Here's an index.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Copley Square Farmers Market, Boston

Some of the wealth at Copley Square
Cities draw good things to eat, as farmers bring their crops to where the people are.

So, my first trip to Boston's Copley Square Farmers Market yesterday was long overdue.

There I found 30 varieties of apples for sale, including two that were wholly new to me (reviews forthcoming).

This market is open for business on Tuesdays and Fridays from 11 am to 6 pm from mid May until Thanksgiving. Tuesday November 26 is the last day this year.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Odd Couple

Tiny, flavorful Wickson poses with beautiful, placid Opalescent in today's photo.

I esteem both of these apples.

It's a sign of the times that you could have gotten these at urban farmers markets this year, without visiting orchard country.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Orleans Reinette

Though I've already reviewed Orleans Reinette apples, last week I found some unrusseted samples so different from any I'd seen before that I just had to try them again.

This is a very oblate, medium-sized apple with a dull red blush over green-yellow. There's only a little russet flared across the top, and many light tan lenticels. Really not like my previous ORs at all.

Unbroken this apple is firm and promisingly fragrant. Its calyx is quite open.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Watsonville pippin

This large spring-green apple, very ribbed, sometimes squat, lacks a name, a number, or even a pedigree, according to the grower.

A few of these sport a mottled persimmon blush, as in my photographed sample. The green is a bit lighter than that of a Granny Smith.

Sweetness predominates in the dense white flesh of this apple, with hints of lemonade, table grapes, and flowers. The flesh oxides almost instantly where torn.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall colors

October makes apples deep red, crisp, and fine. Above: Two Sisters of Fortune.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tydeman's Late Orange

This classically shaped apple is a little lopsided, a small large that is well ribbed. Dark crimson streaks mingle with lighter orange-red strips in the blush, covering a peel that is almost certainly yellow.

The net effect is orange with red stripes, quite handsome.

The lenticels are small on the darker, redder region of the blush and larger on the more-orange part that clearly got less sun. Tydeman's Late has a faint sweet aroma with hints of cider and tea.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dark Mollie

I did a double take when I saw this apple for sale last week. Can you guess what it is?

It's a Mollie's Delicious, which usually wears a much lighter and partial blush and usually is for sale a month earlier.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pink Pearl

What a distinctive, unusual apple! I'm posting even though my sample is a bit past prime.

The Pink Pearl's signature pink flesh, marbled with white, is front and center in my first photograph.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ruby Mac **

Ruby Mac is on the small side of large, classically shaped with varying degrees of ribbing (one very ribbed, the other moderately so).

The dark red blush is a little dull and more even than that of many in the McIntosh family. Coverage is nearly complete, with just a few spots of  light yellow-green peel where the sun didn't shine.

Tiny light lenticels are nearly invisible in the darkest regions of the blush, and the peel has a satiny finish.

A dusty bloom, patchy and thin, adds more visual interest. The apple itself is pretty firm in hand.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The harvest on parade

Brigham's had 11 apple varieties today.
Today I visited two farmstands in Concord, Mass., where I had my pick of 20 different varieties of apples, some heirlooms. 21 if you count different varieties of Cortland.

'Tis the season, to be sure.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sops of Wine *

The streaky blush of this apple, red with an orange cast,  covers most of a light green-yellow peel. Large light lenticels provide additional decoration.

The apple is on the large end of medium, oblate and moderately ribbed. It has a rich, sweet aroma with a hint of yeast, and feels quite firm

The light yellow flesh, more coarse-grained than fine, is pleasant to chew but not very crisp by modern standards. The flavors are well balanced, favoring the sweet side, with a little savory note and quite a bit of banana.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sommerfeld *

On the smaller side of large, somewhat blocky with moderate ribbing, Sommerfeld sports a variegated streaky blush, dull red.

This completely covers the yellow peel, though on the shaded side the streaks grow sparser. You have to look twice to notice the many light lenticels dotting the mix.

The peel has a matt, almost rubbery, finish. Unbroken there is a sweet cidery aroma and a little give to the hand.

Friday, October 4, 2013


This Gala x Fuji cross does a good job of splitting the difference between its parents.

Each of these ribbed, slightly elongated apples has a very streaky red blush over a green-tinged yellow peel that sports a glossy finish.

Light lenticels add even more variation to the striped blush.

These feel pretty firm with just a little give.

Rubenstar's flesh is very juicy and reasonably crisp, a coarse-grained light yellow. Balanced and mild flavors include corn syrup, a very little melon, and a faint generic floral note.

It's easy to see both parents in this apple, which is pleasant and should appeal to fans of Gala and Fuji.

Update: The grower insisted that this apple, which seems to be known in Central California, is its own cultivar and not Rubinstar (with an i),  a sport of Jonagold.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

NY 61345-2 *

Whenever I sample one of these unknown offerings, too obscure to even merit a name, I feel as though I am sitting down with the grower who planted (or grafted) the tree.

This interested me, the farmer seems to say. What do you think?

On the smaller side of large, this apple is oblate but also conical, blushed dull red over green yellow. Large light lenticels show against the blush, and at the top of the fruit these are stretched into ovals and stubby lines.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Maiden's Blush *

Medium-sized, very oblate, green-yellow with smooth rosy cheeks, Maiden Blush resembles nothing so much as a supersized Lady Apple.

Its small light lenticels are nearly unnoticeable. In hand it is quite firm to the squeeze.

Inside this apple is fine-grained white flesh, somewhat dense and hard. The flavors are balanced but on the tart side, and perhaps more chewy than crunchy.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The pulse of the apple harvest

I'd like to share one of my tools: a stream of tweets from about 50 apple orchards.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Summer Rambo (Rambour Franc) **

These oblate apples run from large to enormous with articulated ribs that stretch from crown to base. There is a streaky blush of attenuated red, sparse in parts, over spring green. Light lenticels get a little lost against this variegated background.

The snowy white flesh of this firm fruit is crisp and juicy, medium-fine-grained in a way that breaks of cleanly to the teeth.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Autumn Crisp correction

The apple previously sold around here as "Early Jonagold" is really called "Autumn Crisp."

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fiesta **

Click on any photo for a closer look.
I've got two of these large apples, a little blocky with only slight ribbing, though from above the lopsided one has a square, lobed cross section.

The blush is a striking orange-tinged red reminiscent of Fiesta's mother apple, Cox's Orange Pippin. The unblushed peel is a pale yellow green.

There is a lot happening on that peel: streaks in the blush, a broad swath of russet, fine light lenticels too small to make much visual impact, flyspeck. The peel flora lends a yeasty, grassy aroma.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Phil Rymsha, 1948–2013

I was saddened to learn this week that Phil Rymsha, founder of Phil's Apples in Harvard Mass., passed away last spring.

Phil's Apples remains one of my favorite destinations, for the quality and selection of fruit, for its exceptional unpasturized cider, and for its uncluttered ambiance. The orchard was especially hard hit by bad weather last season.

Condolences to family and friends.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Jonathan vs. Jonafree smackdown

Jonafree (L) and Jonathan
Jonafree, a new disease-resistant apple, clearly suggests Jonathan, a fine antique that is more than 175 years old. (Jonafree is one fourth Jonathan by breeding.) So I thought to test that relationship by sampling them together.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Nova Easygro apple (Easy Grow)

Today's variety is classically shaped, if on the squat side, with very little ribbing, medium-sized. One sample (photographed) grew wildly lopsided.

The blush is a thin red, just a bit dull, over spring green. Lenticels show light in the blush, dark on the green.

Note the mustard-colored strands of russet radiating from the stem well.

This apple grew up on an organic farm and has the usual marks of character. It's nice and firm and has a complex grassy smell.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Apples on the web: Massachusetts map of farms and markets

The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture counts 369 apple farms in the Bay State.

Many of them, along with hundreds of farm stands and farmers markets, are on an interactive map created by the Department.
Massachusetts farmers markets

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Early Macoun (NY 75414-1) *

"Early Macoun" is just a nickname proffered by Hutchins Farm to give our brains a handy handle for this variety. It is formally known only as NY 75414-1.

My samples are all small, though that may be more a characteristic of this harvest than of the breed in general. They are classically shaped with a slight conical taper and almost no ribbing at all.

The blush is crimson with dark purple streaks, made even darker on some samples by a smokey blue bloom like the one that gives a name to the Blue Pearmain. The effect is striking.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Earliblaze *

Today's apple (and photo) comes courtesy of a generous Ohio reader who mailed me six slightly oblate small-to-medium Earliblaze apples.

These have light ribbing, deep stem wells, and closed calyxes.

The streaky red blush over yellow green is bright and attractive with some deep crimson strokes. The peel is glossy and the blush showcases small but distinct light lenticels.

There's some bruising and flyspeck. These no-spray apples smell sweet with yeasty overtones

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Special delivery

The below disgraceful example of the mail-carrier's art greeted me yesterday afternoon:
Not a staged shot
Some might say this treatment shows a playful creativity that should be celebrated. But what if that box had come crashing to the ground, what then? For it contained six apples from a reader, apples of a variety unknown to me.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A promising sign

The news today at Hutchins Farm in Concord, Massachusetts

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lodi vs. Yellow Transparent smackdown

Lodi (R) and Yellow Transparent (R), both picked too soon
I confess that when I bought this very green Yellow Transparent I suspected it might be a Lodi, but when I put it by a real Lodi the differences were clear.

Lodi is one of several varieties heralded as a "better" more modern substitute for the flighty Yellow T. Consequently I have been wanting to put them head to head for several years.