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.

The squeeze is firm, the calyx is closed, and the aroma a New England fall cider classic, sweet and a little musty.

There is some attractive crackling of russet on the sunward side.

The light yellow flesh is medium-coarse-grained and reasonably crisp, though leaning slightly towards mealy. King's sweet-tart balance is in the good zone but there is a little bitterness at one point.

There is some spice and a hint of melon, and a slight savory quality in the aftertaste.

Otherwise I would say that the flavors are unremarkable and a little weak. Perhaps an earlier sample might have been better.

I think King is the apple that Beech described, 100 years ago, as Tompkins King in Apples of New York. If so I might try for better samples next year, for Beech praises King as "excellent in quality for either desert or culinary uses."

Update: A really interesting discussion in the comments below, also, a second tasting for Tompkins King in 2019.


  1. Hello Adam. I also found Thompkins King, assuming it is the same apple, to be unremarkable. Disappointing, in fact, for both flavor and texture. I have observed that some apples do not age well and, like you, wonder what this would have been like earlier in the season. (I only found this two or so weeks ago.)

    1. Jean, it's nice to get a little corroborating evidence once in a while. Thanks!

  2. First a correction. It is Tompkins County King, named for the county where I work and used to live it. On my way to work, I drive by the place in Jacksonville where the first tree was grown. But you aren't alone in the misspelling.
    Second, I will offer a defense. In September, the King is a bright tasting a apple bursting with flavor, and one of my favorites.

  3. I was going to comment on the misspelling too, but see that John H beat me to it. It's also grown by some cider makers and has a reputation as a good cider apple - that may explain the lack of excitement regarding the taste as an eater.

    Also, despite the name - the apple was first discovered/grown in NJ (Warren County 1804) but became popular after it was cultivated in Tompkins County, NY.

    1. Don't know how I missed John's comment but have corrected the spelling, thanks! The grower sold it as "Thompkins."

  4. Known simply as King, and almost a dozen other names, this apple I
    simply a bizarre one to grow. For one it is a triploid, but now drum
    role, it is also partially self fertile. Which is some sort of bizarre
    what the kittens moments for most fruit growers. That translates to,
    well I can’t pollinate anything other than myself, but I sort of do a
    poor job of that too. Still and all, that can work to the advantage of
    the backyard grower who is growing Tompkins King County as their only
    tree. You might wonder why you would do that, so I’ll tell you. Here
    as some cool features of “King”.

    It has big apples no matter what you graft it to. Want a freakish, but
    ultra cool plant, graft it to M27 and train it as a cordon, big fruit on
    a tiny plant! Another advantage, it like to grow horizontally…so easy
    to train as a horizontal espalier. And in any form on M27 you won’t have
    to worry so much about fireblight ( that it is susceptible to) because
    once the frame is established and it is fruiting it will hardy push new
    wood, especially if you only fall/winter prune (btw, this is not
    isolated to just Tompkins King, but true of anything on M27). And as
    mentioned it is partially self fertile,meaning, if you have another
    pollinators and you train it as an espalier, you likely will not even
    have to thin.

    It is dual purpose, meaning it is excellent for desert, sauce, apple
    butter or pies, Ad bonus, for those monitoring their sugar you don’t
    need to add any for culinary purposes with the King.

    It has no biennial tendency and tends to resist frosts and is very
    dependable. It will keep for about 8 weeks. Personally I think the
    flavor is much improved after a couple of weeks of storage where is
    mellows till it becomes quite delectable.

    This is an apple that says I am an apple strongly, it has an old
    fashioned apple flavor with subtle yet complex aromatics thrown in for
    good measure. Like most apples the flavor is more muted when cold, but I
    do like to serve some of these very chilled for one reason, the course
    flesh gets kind of crystalline crunchiness that is refreshing when well
    chilled. Once at room temperature and the aromatics are freed, it is
    particularly agreeable with sharp cheese or a stronger red wine (oh
    splurge and do both).

    The Fluffy Bunny

  5. That is the most perfectly colored King I've met. When I arrived from Pennsylvania my bicylcle stopped many times at farmhouses along W.Washington valley roads. The main provider in late September was King (of Tompkin's Cty). I filled my panniers a few times rolling the Green River. They are not keepers, at perfection, very juicy, extremely greasy- especially as they age often rough-skinned(not russet but more like mildew scarring) flesh-breaking in unpredictable chunks, often with watercore. Drops for 3 months on account of some scab and it's popularity with codling moth.


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