Sunday, January 3, 2016

Best wishes for 2016

A very happy new year from me to you.

Now at Farmers Market
I reviewed 21 apples in 2015, more than the year before and more than I'd supposed likely. The tally of my opinionated catalog stands today at 241 varieties, including a few mere sports.

After 7 years of Adam’s Apples it’s rare to discover an untried variety at Farmers Market, yet the choices at those markets continue to evolve in promising ways (Hello, Wickson!).

Many of the new 2015 apples came from you, O generous readers, some from locales with climates different from that of my own New England. I’m naturally very grateful to you all.

A trip and a fortuitous unplanned encounter with the California Rare Fruit Growers provided still more “foreign” tastings. This year? We’ll see.

Apple sliced to reveal red flesh
Ruby Red, a California apple
Needless to say, I am always seeking to taste and describe apples that are new to me. The reviews are very much the heart of this blog, though only about a third of its content.

I spotted two welcome trends in 2015. The first is more heritage apples at farmers markets and orchards. I attribute that to a growth in demand fueled by public curiosity and enthusiasm for apples outside of the supermarket template.

I’d like to think I have contributed to the enthusiasm, which matches my own, but the truth is that I probably just happen to be marching near the front of the parade, not leading it.

The second is, dare I hope, the return of flavor as a consideration for the big breeding consortiums. I’m looking at the rise of taste—really interesting flavors—in such new varieties as SweeTango, Opal, and Rockit.

It’s possible that in 5 or 10 years not every apple in the Supermarket pantheon (save Granny Smith) will be nearly identical contestants for the title of “sweetest/hardest/prettiest/least offensive.” We’ll always have Honeycrisp, Braeburn, and Fuji, but let some healthy competition on flavor drive the choices going forward.

Time will tell if these are real trends or just wishful thinking. But just a few years ago the sophisticated Ashmead’s Kernel showed up at farmers market, like a Rembrandt at a yard sale.

The grower should be proud of those apples. This year those trees must have really come into their own: there was a bumper crop and you could buy the Kernel for an astonishing $2 per pound.

A pride of Ashmead's
I’m hoping for more of the same in 2016!


  1. I just discovered your blog over this past weekend when I was trying to figure out what new apple trees I might want to add to my small orchard this year. What a wealth of info all in one place. Thank you!!

    1. Why, I am pleased to be of service!

      You’ve probably noticed there’s not much here about the growing traits of these apples. something you no doubt care about very much. So I’m glad if my opinions about the eating qualities give you some ideas.

      Good luck with your trees! Let us know what you do and how it goes, if you like.

    2. Adam,
      Is there a way for me to get in touch with Freddy Menge? I am really interested in some Vanilla Pippin scionwood. Thanks
      Brent Spence

    3. @brent (zorgon?): If you ever reach Freddie Menge, please ask him to drop me a line.

      I did meet him last fall and I have left messages for him; he did leave a comment on this blog once, but so far no dice.

      If you track him down tell him i say thanks and would like to be in touch!


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