Sunday, February 2, 2014

Stars of 2013

Battered but good: Rubinette
Between last fall's bumper crop here in the Northeast and a bit of apple tourism on the West Coast, I got to try an astonishing 30 varieties of apples for the first time last year.

(That's not counting a few whose identities I am still trying to sort out.)

I also had help from some of you who sent me samples to try. Thank you very much. I hope my descriptions repay some measure of your generosity.

I like all of these apples. However, today is the day I rank them according to a rating system in which one star is very good, two stars are excellent, and three stars are extraordinary.

Not every apple got a star. Senator (one star) made the cut while King did not. But they were all worth eating, and you might rank things differently.

Pink Pearl
Some of the apples I reviewed this year were clearly not at their respective peaks. It's reasonable to suppose that the gorgeous Pink Pearl at its best would deserve one or perhaps even two stars, but I could not honestly award a rating based on speculation. A few other samples suffered similarly.

On the other hand there was one apple that, even battered and bruised, was genuinely good enough to rate a single star: Rubinette. I can only hope to find some prime examples this fall. If I do a revised rating will follow next February.

The other one-star apples are as follows.

One star ("worth choosing") to Earliblaze, Envy, Galarina, and Maiden's Blush, the second variety I have found using that name.

Speaking of names, I give a single star to three unnamed varieties from New York: NY 315, NY 61345-2, and NY 75414-1; the latter is sold locally as "Early Macoun," though it is a separate breed. Names or no, these are very good.

Other single stars go to Rubyfrost, Russet Beauty, Snow Sweet, and Sommerfeld. I identified the last of these with help from a reader, thanks very much!

Finally, a star each to two varieties with exotic names: Sops of Wine and Zabergau Reinette.

I did not find any new three-star apples this year ("worth a quest"), but enjoyed six that deserve two stars ("worth seeking").

They are Airle Red Flesh (often marketed as Hidden Rose, a trademark), Fiesta, Ruby Mac, Summer Rambo, Sutton Beauty, and Tentation. Wish I had some now.

It is a pleasure to revisit the harvest like this! I was really lucky to find so many interesting varieties for the first time, especially since I'd already reviewed so many of the obvious choices.

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