Saturday, February 15, 2014

Winter-market Mutsu (Crispin)

Temporarily between snow storms, I couldn't place these large blocky apples in a bin at Somerville's winter market today. Some of them were huge.

Their cheerful sunshine yellow and small rosy orange blush (but not the shape) suggested Blushing Golden, which would have been a find indeed in February.

When I learned they were Mutsu I had to see how they had fared in storage for 4 months.

Mutsu, also known as Crispin, is a fall treat, with delicate attenuated tastes and a great crunch. I like them just fine and might get a few in September but, truth be told, pass them by later in the season because of so many other choices.

They are very good in February, if well kept (these are).

Mutsu also has the virtue of being digestible by many of the poor souls who are allergic to other varieties of apples.

September Mutsu: As big and blocky, but green
I'm used to eating them green and the color of these makes me wonder if I've been doing so early.

If so these have not only been mellowing in storage but were allowed to stay on the tree a bit longer than I normally see in season.

My photo shows the yellow, the blush, the blocky shape, and the prominent dark lenticels. These are exceptionally fragrant, bearing lovely wafts of honey, cider, and pear.

This aroma suggests that Apex Orchards, which grew these apples, kept them fresh using refrigeration alone, and not chemicals that inhibit ripening and consequently temporarily suppress scent and flavor.

The flesh of these stored Mutsus is crisp and juicy, coarse-grained and yellow. The mild flavors are melded into apple sweetness but with an incongruous hint of mushroom, as if to remind us that we are eating something that grows outdoors.

A bite from the calyx end has just a bit more tartness, harkening back to the clearer, if delicate, tastes of fall.

Mutsu in winter becomes nearly a different apple, mild, flavorful, and easy to enjoy.

I suppose the next thing to wonder about is whether they ripened from green to yellow on the tree or in storage. If the former then I'll want to try some yellow ones in season, if I can.


  1. Thanks for the tip Adam! I saw the bin of these and passed on it, I guess mostly because they were jarring with my preconceived ideas of what Mutsu is supposed to look like. I'll give them a try next week though.

    1. To be honest, I came hoping to find more Golden Russets. But all good things must come to an end.

      The Mutsus were very pretty and unexpected and intriguing. Let us know what you think next week.

  2. Having picked and sold Mutsu, I would not expect to see green(er) samples after the early part of its season in September. Otherwise, choose it the same way you would pick its parent, Golden Delicious (i.e., mainly yellow).

    And if you cannot wait for Mutsu, you can always grab its sister, Shizuka, which does ripen a week or two earlier.

    1. Thanks for the heads up, Eugene. I will say that around here there does not seem to be a late-season yellow option.

      Growers pick early, often too early in my opinion, for reasons you can probably understand. It is becoming one of my perennial complaints.

      This Mutsu eats differently than one from September, but I can't say what part of that is from storage and what from longer time on the tree.

  3. Hi Adam, i've been following your posts for a while now and i have to say you've quite the compendium of apple tasting info and the vocabulary to go with. Thanks for putting all of this out there for those of use who aren't fortunate enough to life in a diverse apple filled new england.

    something i've often wondered about is how well apples taste after they've been stored for awhile. i'm not talking about those professional grade freezers for american apples that go to your standard grocery story. i mean the way the old timers did it. in apple books all they say is a short blurb 'keeps well' or 'keeps until December.'

    So...if its becoming difficult to find new varieties to taste i'd be curious to see how all the ones you've already done would taste after storing them in the fridge for 3 or 4 months.

    just a thought.

    oh and, i think you should put all your reviews and great photos in a book. it would surely be a one of a kind treasure any publisher would eagerly throw gobs of cash at you for the rights.

    1. Jacob, thanks!

      I hope I never run out of apples, but I have noted the keeping qualities of some varieties. They are flagged with the labels keepers and winter apples.

      Not very comprehensive I'm afraid, but a start.

      By the way, these Mutsu were stored at Apex Orchards under much better conditions than obtain in my refrigerator.

      As for the book, that is a very flattering thought. There have been some wonderful apple books published recently.

  4. i'd also like your opinion on a few varieties i'm growing, but won't mature for a few years. i haven't seen any of these on your list. if you can get your chompers on a Cornish Gilliflower, Herefordshire Redstreak, Porter's Perfection and a Stoke's Red i'd be thrilled to get your reaction. Some of these may be cider apples, but i've read, never tasted, they are palatable.

    if you're curious here is a link to my apples page.

    1. 1 more variety i forgot, Glowing Coal. very rare west coast apple from about 1900. i have to confess i got this one just because of the name. how could i resist an apple named Glowing Coal.

    2. Jacob, they do have marvelous names for apples, don't they? I especially like some of the older, bombastic ones: King of the Pippins! Seek No Further!

      You seem to have quite the collection of apples yourself. What a splendid experiment.

      I do not shrink from tasting beyond dessert apples when I can get them. Unfortunately eating out of hand does not do justice to any culinary or drinking qualities.


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