Tuesday, December 30, 2014

York (York Imperial) *

This drunkenly diagonal apple is large and distinctly ribbed, with an attractive red-orange blush streaky over dull green. Look closely to see regular tan spots.

After a month or two of storage, these bear a sweet aroma. The peel is a bit waxy.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Watercore in a Lady Apple. Click for close-up.
Eat enough apples and you are sure to encounter watercore: strangely translucent, glassy flesh super-saturated with juice and sugar.

You'd think juiciness would be a straightforward trait specific to each apple variety.

Coarse-grained apples, with large cells, hold more juice than fine-graned, smaller-cell breeds. Watermelon vs potato.

Sometimes however things get a little haywire and the tree forces water, tree-sap really, into the apple so fast that some of it ends up between the cells.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Apples on the Web: New England Apples

Where better to locate a regional focus on apples than my own New England? (Pardon my parochialism!)

Photo: NASA
And who better to write on that topic than the former director of the New England Apple Grower's Association (and its current senior writer), Russell Powell?

Powell, who has penned two books about apples, publishes and writes New England Apples.

It's an uncluttered blog that also features apple photos (and writing) by Bar Lois Weeks, the Association's current Executive Director.

These columns blend commentary, recipes, history, and description with an emphasis on the first of these.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Aurora vs. Mutsu smackdown

Two crisp, light, apples with almost attenuated flavors. The idea for this match up felt obvious from the moment I had my first Aurora earlier this year.

Aurora Golden Gala (R) meets a yellow late-season Mutsu. (Mutsu is often sold green.)
Aurora is premium-sized, what you'd find in a supermarket, and Mutsu is just huge. (The photo understates Mutsu's size.) So, a lot of apple to eat at one sitting!

But I ran into some surprises at first bite.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sweet Winter Pennock **

These hayseed-handsome apples are medium and large, a little conical and a little blocky and a little ribbed.

The cheerful orange-red blush runs from streaky to saturated but covers most of a subdued yellow-green.

Russet-colored lenticels are prominent in the blush, and there's a copper-and-green russet at the crown and in crackles down the side.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The wet and chilly end of things

The last outdoor market of the year ended in rain and slush in Davis Square, Somerville, earlier today.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Barnack Beauty *

These run medium to large, round, unribbed, and with a modest conical taper. They are just a little flattened at the poles.
The stem well is shallow and the larger apple has a "Roman nose," a fold that juts like a little causeway into the moat around the stem.

There manages to be a tiny crown of russet about the top too, brown copper.

The orange-red blush is streaky and subdued, but covers the similarly subdued green peel nearly everywhere to some extent. Barnack has many small light lenticels that are not at all obvious against this background.

In hand, the Beauty is a nice firm compact apple with a wide-open calyx and the faint scent of cut grass.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

How much is a story worth?

Stories have worth, of the "priceless" variety. But do they also have cash value?

I don't mean storytelling, which is a craft and an art that, thank goodness, people pay for. I mean the stories themselves.

This blog is largely about the stories that apples have, so the question interests me. And as it happens I have a story about that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Razor Russet

The russet that jackets this medium-sized classically shaped apple is fine-textured and a little translucent.

It coats every part of the apple with a thin golden mustard shell that has some olive-green highlights. Greenish lenticels are prominent and large.

The small blushed area is smooth and tinted orange and brown. There are a few faint longitudinal green stripes beneath the russet.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Virginia Beauty *

Today's apple is a daughter of the South, but mine grew in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.

Apples have their own territories, but I can only taste what I have.

Today that is two of these oblate, slightly conical apples grown far north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

A dull red blush covers about half the surface over spring green. Large light lenticels are striking, as is an iridescent coppery sheen reflecting from the peel's satiny finish.

Virginia has an open calyx, a thick stem, and no aroma.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ramsdell Sweet

Running from medium to the smaller end of large, these classically shaped apples have a streaky red blush.

Save for a few dark stripes the blush comes off as more orange than red over the underlying yellow.

Many light lenticels further enliven this variegated exterior. There is almost no ribbing.

Ramsdell has a sweet cidery aroma and an open calyx. There's a bit of russet in the stem well, which is deep. The peel is moderately glossy, and there is a little give in the squeeze.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Kind people have sent me apples before, but Aurora is my first from a commercial grower seeking greater exposure for a new variety. I am pleased to oblige.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Eating October

When it comes to apples, is there any month like October?

I ate 62 apples last month, 23 different identifiable varieties and 2 apples I could not place.

They were great.

October is apple month
I've been tracking my apple consumption this year. Here's what the record shows for October.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Winter is coming

The markets are still filled with fruit, and memories of harvest bounty linger.

But the trees are bare or nearly so. If you want local apples to eat in December it's time to start stocking up. Otherwise, it will be hit or miss at the supermarket until July.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Spigold is great for eating and for pies
Huge, crunchy, and fun, this Northern Spy x Golden Delicious cross is famous as a pie apple. At this size, according to the woman who grew this one, "You only need 3 for a pie." A big pie.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A good time to stock up

Everything was on sale at Belmont's farmers market yesterday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Have some (slightly) overripe apples

Today I've got two great apples, Macoun and Cox's Orange Pippin, that have probably been ripening on the tree too long.

Both of these were picked late. L to R: Cox's Orange Pippin, Macoun.
I want to see what that is like.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The end is nigh

The warning is clear at Hutchins Farm in Concord, Massachusetts, last weekend.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sun on sun

Suncrisp apples in the sun
The fading sun kisses a ripe rack of Suncrisp apples at Autumn Hills Orchard in Groton, Massachusetts, earlier today.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The hills of autumn

Autumn Hills barn
About an hour from Boston, not far south of the New Hampshire border, is a no-frills pick-your own apple orchard with hills, thrills, and hundreds of trees full of fruit. It's called Autumn Hills Orchard, in the town of Groton.

This is not a place for anything but fruit. You cannot, at least as of this writing, buy cider, donuts, kettle corn, or maple candy. There is no hay ride or corn maze. If the weather is bad, call first because they just might close up early.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Mother (American Mother) *

Courtesy of a generous apple enthusiast, I have 2 medium-sized irregularly shaped apples that sport a streaky red blush over greenish yellow.

That makes for a lot of orange where the yellow bleeds through the thinnest part of the blush. That spot is also where the brown lenticels are the most prominent.

Mother's peel sports more satin than shine.

It's hard to say what shape these would be if pristine, but there seems to be a small amount of ribbing. The apple in my photo is the more elongated of the two.

Besides the odd bumps and indentations, and a few hard little scabby lumps, these apples show some signs of bugs. Have no fear, gentle reader: no extra protein in this review.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fresh Empire

I treasure Empire in the spring, when it is a reliable echo of Fall's vinous apples.

But I rarely eat it during that harvest.

With a decidedly streaky blush, a bit of a smokey bloom, and a shape less conical than I have come to expect, these large apples look different enough from the supermarket version that I did not immediately recognize them hanging on the tree.

So I picked one and brought it home.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Now bare, they barely bore

Yesterday at Hutchins Farm. The trees were unproductive this year.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Niagara (Niagara Mac)

Of all the "new" apples I got on a recent trip to New York City, Niagara may be the only one I haven't had before.

It's medium-sized, but there were larger ones available. I just didn't want to carry more than I had to.

For the most part Niagara resembles an oblate, ribbed McIntosh, with a streaky red blush over yellow green.

Light lenticels are quite large on parts of the apple, probably where growth has especially stretched the peel. That peel has a satin-gloss finish.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

2014 harvest going, going....

Russell Powell of the New England Apple Association reports,

The 2014 New England apple crop is decidedly uneven. Some orchards have plenty of fruit, some just miles away have been forced to close early after running out of fresh apples.

Update: Business Columnist Shirley Leung has the story in the October 8 Boston Globe. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Apples in disguise

I'm always hoping to find apples that are new to me, to taste and describe here.

Domino mask
This year I've walked many through the ritual of photographing and tasting, only to find that they are not new at all. Instead these apples were just sold under unfamiliar names.

A recent visit to the Big Apple included a pilgrimage to several farmers markets. New York City draws fruit from some fine orchards upstate and in New Jersey.

I returned with 4 varieties I hoped to add to my opinionated catalog. All but one, however, were retreads in disguise.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Friday, October 3, 2014

Heritage applesauces

How could I not share this great photo from Toronto apple aficionado and tweeter extraordinaire Suzanne Long?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Crimson Crisp vs Jonathan

Today we pit Crimson Crisp, a modern breed from the Purdue Rutgers Indiana cooperative, against Jonathan, which is two hundred years old. Indeed Jonathan is Crimson Crisp's great grandfather.

Crimson Crisp at left, Jonathan at right
That's only one sixteenth Jonathan, but it's enough to make me curious about these two varieties, which ripen close enough to permit a comparision.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Early Golden is Golden Supreme

This apple was a gift called "Early Golden." It is my ungrateful business here to look all apples in the mouth, gifts included. In this case it looks as though I found a slightly overripe (but not unpleasant!) Golden Supreme.

This medium-sized apple is a beautiful pure yellow flecked with dark gray lenticels, especially on the sunward side where a faint blush adds a subtle orange cast.

My Early Golden is classically shaped, both conical and oblate with modest ribbing. It is very firm in hand with a calyx that is mostly, but not completely, closed, and it smells faintly of cider and honey.

Monday, September 22, 2014


These intense dark red spheres, decorated with tiny light lenticels, have a marvelous gem-like quality. Dolgo is small, though large for a crab apple.

They are moderately ribbed and slightly elongated, and have trouble standing upright because their tight-as-a-drum calyxes are outies.

The backs of these blush lighter and less saturated, and bear many more lenticels, close-spaced.

Dolgo is rock hard and, unbroken, has the faint aroma of cider with some lively spice notes.

The grower flagged these as "cider apples," as in hard cider; these are notoriously inedible. So, spitter?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Today's Starkeys (I have 2) are medium-sized and slightly ribbed. One has a streaky red blush, the other a mostly solid one, each covering a bit more than half of the lively spring-green peel.

The blush is enlivened by large lenticels sparsely distributed

Starkey has a thick short stem and a closed calyx. It is quite firm in hand.

This is a celebrated old variety and the question as always is, How does it eat?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

First Macoun

On the small side, with some light hazy bloom, ribbed, freckled, gorgeous.
It's still a wee early for Macoun but you know what? It's still great.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Marshall McIntosh

Large and classically shaped, slightly ribbed, Marshall Mac wears a saturated red blush over a bright spring green.

Many light lenticels, some large, decorate the peel. They are especially visible in the blush.

White fine-grained flesh, tinted green, is a little spongy. The apple is tart tempered by sweetness, with classic McIntosh flavors of berries and wine (for the vinous definition of wine).

Flesh color and texture suggest this apple was picked a little early.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dandee Red vs. Paula Red smackdown

Today's bout pits an apple against its sport to see if there is any meaningful difference other than color.

Paula Red (L) and Dandee Red.
Sports are genetic mutations of existing varieties. Typically they are just redder or earlier or something like that.

Occasionally the differences are great enough to yield a variety that feels wholly original, as with Lucky Rose Golden. Is Dandee one of those?

Paula is probably the best early-summer McIntosh-type apple, so whatever the outcome I look forward to eating it and its mutant clone.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Kimball Fruit Farm

Many choices at Kimball Fruit Farm last Saturday
I've been buying their apples at farmers market for years, but never visited Kimball Fruit Farm at its home in Pepperell Massachusetts until last weekend.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dandee Red

Dandee is a large and slightly ribbed apple with a handsome saturated blush that covers nearly all of an otherwise green yellow peel.

The blush is a rich crimson with some purple. A smoky blue bloom adds visual interest.

Light lenticels run from large to small to indistinguishable.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Gravenstein notes

The notes are mineral and even metallic, and I am finding them this summer in Gravenstein apples picked a bit too soon.

These fruits also bear undeveloped pips, another indication of over-eager farming.

Monday, August 25, 2014

So long, Phil's Apples

One of my favorite U-picks is out of business and up for sale.

Phil's in 2008
For sale in 2014

I took this photo in front of the property last week.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Red Free (Redfree)

I'm here for a second bite at Red Free, a gorgeously colored early variety that is on the large side of medium-sized.

It's oblate and really with no ribbing save around the base, which has the usual bumps.

The glossy blush runs from streaky to a deep cherry red over a green-tinted yellow.

The tiny lenticels are almost invisible. Meanwhile the apple is firm in hand and has only a faint sweet aroma.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tydeman's Early Worcester *

The woman who sold me these medium-sized apples warned me twice they would be tart.

Tydeman's Early is round and only slightly ribbed, with a crimson blush that ranges from dark and saturated to streaky.

Many light lenticels of varying size make the surface of this apple a busy place.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pick no apple before its time

Apples on the tree, where they belong, at Hutchins Farm yesterday.
To everything there is a season, and today's post is dedicated to farmers who know when that is.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lodi vs. Yellow Transparent smackdown

Lodi (L) and Yellow Transparent. These early varieties are sometimes confused.
I have been trying to get these guys together for years. They are related.

Although both are among the earliest varieties of the summer, their respective seasons are so short, and their shelf lives so brief, that they rarely overlap.

Let's see who is the better apple.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Before the apples are ripe

Apples are ripening "beyond this point" today at Hutchins Farm in Concord, Mass.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Gala–Braeburn family

Despite the return of local apples last week, July was a month when I ate a lot of imports from the southern hemisphere.

As it turns out, many of the apples that drew me last month—16 of them—were offspring of Gala and Braeburn, two New Zealand varieties that have become supermarket staples here in the States.
(Yes, I am keeping track this year.)

Maybe you've been making similar choices. Here are mine.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Apples of July and August

What early apples do you like? I've collected 15 interesting early-summer apples on this (clickable) board:

Follow Adam's Apples's board Apples of July and August on Pinterest.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fracking pipeline threatens Massachusetts apple orchard

Clarkdale Farm is in the pipeline's path.
A proposed pipeline to bring natural gas from Pennsylvania to eastern Massachusetts would cut through a 100-year-old orchard in Deerfield, Massachusetts.

The controversial plan would bring gas extracted by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, from Pennsylvania and possibly New York, to feed the region's growing appetite for natural gas.

Critics say the multi-billion-dollar pipeline project, to be paid for by electric rates, is much bigger than needed.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Seasons' greetings!

Red Vista Bella and green Lodi from yesterday's market.
The first local apples of the harvest are cause for celebration.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Good eating

The idea when I started this blog 6 years ago today was to blog about apples "to use the web to view the world."

Since then I've learned a lot about apples but also about blogging, technology, still photography, and writing for the web.

These "but also" things have always been very much a part of the project for me, though I've never made much ado about that side of things on this blog.