I've learned a lot by comparing apples, eating and weighing two different breeds together.
Sometimes these head-to-head contests are lighthearted, sometimes for higher stakes, and sometimes to settle specific questions (such as, "is this early Mac very Mac-like?"). I almost always learn something new.
Turns out, I've held more than 30 of these contests. Here are some of the more interesting ones.
Roxbury vs Golden Russet
I compared Roxbuy Russet with the similar Golden Russett in 2011 to catalog their real but mostly subtle differences. These had been confused at one point by a grower, and consequently by me.
This head-to-head made me more confident in my ability to tell these two fine varieties apart.
In play, I call most of these comparisions "smackdowns" and try, if possible, to say at the end which I feel to be the better apple.
In reality, many of these are amiable pairings of complementary varieties. However, there are a few genuine grudge matches, none more deadly serious than
McIntosh vs. Honeycrisp
because these two varieties are locked in mortal combat in the commercial world. (Honeycrisp is winning.)
Apart from that, these two apples did not play nicely together in my mouth; click through for the gory details and final decision of the judges (me).
By contrast, many of the parings were friendly and complementary. For instance,
Crimson Crisp vs. Jonathan
turned out to be just a pleasure to eat together, greater ensemble than the sum of each separately. That was the case with many of my pomo-a-pomo face-offs.
Probably the worst pairing was
Honeycrisp vs. Topaz
which just left a bad taste in my mouth. No happy harmonies here: Honeycrisp really likes to annihilate the opposition and gives no quarter, and Topaz did not go gentle.
The result isn't pretty, but it is instructive.
I've even compared
Pasteurized versus Unpasteurized Cider
again in a quest to map out differences, this time between raw and sterilized sweet cider.
Try it (or any of these) yourself time time: it is surprising how this fun little exercise can deepen ones understanding and appreciate the different qualities of cider. Or for that matter, of apples.
I have co-tasted apples that seem to share a similar flavor or characteristic (to see she how far the similarity goes), or that are different offspring of the same parents (to see how far each falls from the same tree).
Some parings were to settle specific questions such as, Which of the early Macs are actually most like McIntosh? (For the record, I think it is Paula Red.)
If this has piqued your curiosity, I invite you to click to a page where you can explore all of my comparisons.
Human understanding is often based on the apprehension of differences. Just as parallax vision allows us to see in three dimensions, so too these binary comparisons increased my appreciation of the pomacious fruit.