Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A year of apples 2014

Why blog about apples? My original purpose, broadly, was to see what happens if I do.

The same curiosity animated my latest experiment, tracking all the apples I ate in 2014.

"If I do:" Here's what happened when I did.

Last year I ate some 484 apples distributed unevenly across more than 90 different varieties.

The below chart, with its moire of singleton varieties around the 11-o'clock position, gives a general idea of how varied my apple diet is.

These are observation, not a quest for Guinness-book notoriety. I am not competing with this fellow or trying to prove anything. There were 38 days in 2014 when I ate no apples at all.

Apple Pie for 2014

Hover your pointer over any pie slice for details. But the pie does not tell the full story.

For instance, I ate 77 Macouns in 2014, far more than any other apple (Empire is second at 39).

Macoun is a particular favorite of mine, but consider this.

In the harvest month of October I could have eaten nothing but fresh Macouns every day. Yet only 13 of the 62 apples I enjoyed that month were Macouns.

Why? Because variety really is the spice of life.

I give a lot of lip service here to eating widely and trying lots of things, so I am pleased to see myself walking the walk. (And October is a kid-in-a-candy-store month for apples.)

Adding the dimension of time tells more of the story.

This chart shows my top 7 varieties over the course of the year plus "other," which comprises everything else.

Here Macoun (blue) is shown to have 2 distinct seasons: January-March, when I ate 29 of them, and September-December, 48 more.

Macoun is at its best in the fall, but faces less competition in the winter.

Note how "other" (spring green) really takes off once the harvest starts to ramp up in August and there are many choices. (In the winter "other" comprises my keeper apples.)

Meanwhile I stop eating Empire, Jazz, Lady Alice, and Cripps Pink in July (or earlier in Alice's case).

The wonderful Chestnut Crabapples are mostly an October phenomenon.

Just a few more things about this experiment.
  • This is the nerdiest apple thing I have ever done or likely will do. In that spirit,
  • The 484 apples in a year are an average of 1.33 apples a day.
  • In the fall I greedily buy, and hoard, more apples than I can eat. They deteriorate. These data will help me plan my apple diet better this year and waste less.
  • It's hard to keep track! I know I missed a few. 484 is a good estimate though.
  • I've also got a half-year report (169 apples) from July and an October report (62) in this series.
This blog also began as a one-year experiment. Unlike the blog, however, I am not signing up for another year of counting apples. Once is plenty.

My last apple of 2014 was a Lady Apple from the Union Square Greenmarket in New York. My first of 2015 was an Esopus Spitzenberg from the Somerville (Mass.) Winter Market.

Update: So a reader wants to know, where did I find these apples? How many from grocers and how many from farms?

I can estimate those numbers pretty handily. And you know what that means: more pie!
Everybody likes pie.


  1. Wow, what a great experiment/project! Thanks for sharing your data. It's interesting to me that out of your top 15 most consumed apples, I've only seen three of those in a grocery store. I live in Utah and we don't have as many farmer's markets as some other places but hopefully they have more variety. I'm curious if you could estimate what percentage of the total 484 were purchased at a grocery store versus a farmer's market, orchard, or self grown.

    1. Oo, that's a good question!

      Based on some rough estimates, I'd say a little more than a third came from stores.

      About 173 versus 319 from orchards farmers markets and farm stands.

    2. ... and so easy to bake those numbers into another pie chart, which I put at the end of the post.

      Thanks, Matt!

  2. Please keep blogging about apples, this is great. Good to know there are people out there interested in trying different varieties and discussing them.

    1. Sunny, thank you so much, and do let me know what you think.

  3. Thank you for doing this. I recently just came across your blog. Growing up I did not eat many apples, and if I did they were almost always Galas. Now I live with my aunt, and she only buys Honeycrisp. Only this past month did I start venturing out and trying new varieties... and what can I say, I'm obsessed. What a glorious fruit! I live in some prime apple territory, Spokane, WA, with plenty of orchards and farms around to seek out. I'm excited. For now I'm simply trying the store varieties, my favorites so far being Fuji, Pacific Rose, and Cameo. Cheers.

    1. Anon, thank you for your note.

      If you can get your fruit direct from the growers, you have an edge over most of the rest of us this time of year.

      Sad to say Pacific Rose does not even seem to be available in New England any more, though you can buy them in Asia.

      By all means revel in whatever goodness the place where you live has to offer. And enjoy exploring the world of apples!


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