Thursday, November 9, 2017

Surprise *

Red- and pink-fleshed apples are experiencing a moment right now, though the effect is sometimes muted by climate.

Many of these varieties (but not all) need an environment milder than ours to develop their internal colors fully.

Still Surprise's pink marbling is striking.

On the outside, this medium-sized apple, ribbed, alternates yellow-green, green yellow, and a light orange pink.

Is that last a blush, or does it relate to places where pink flesh lies immediately beneath the glossy peel? The surface is decorated with brown lenticel dots.

Surprise before the surprise.
Like many red-fleshed varieties, Surprise is aromatic when cut, a mixture of sugar, citrus, and a kind of fruit punch.

The flesh is tender and juicy, bearing mild fruit-punch flavor and some floral and berry notes and cane-sugar sweetness. There's just a bit of pear flavor in the mix too.

It appears that the pink flesh, and not a blush, is the source of Surprise's gauzy orange color. The peel must be translucent enough to allow that effect, yet is still a bit chewy.

Many of the red-fleshed varieties I have tried have sour or bitter notes, and a kind of rough granular texture. Surprise is genuinely tasty and accessible, I should think, to modern sensibilities that balk at tartness. The flesh of my sample is almost creamy.

To my surprise, Surprise is an old apple, originating in Great Britain in the early 19th century. It is the seed-parent of Pink Pearl and other Etter red-fleshed varieties, and is probably the ancestor of many of the modern red-fleshed apples.

The meaning of the name is obvious.

A 1938 watercolor rendering of this apple suggests that the pink regions of the flesh can be extensive.

The image is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Pomological Watercolor Collection, Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, Maryland.

My lone sample of Surprise came from the heritage orchard at the Nashoba Valley Winery via food writer Amy Traverso. Many thanks!



Post a Comment

Join the conversation! We'd love to know what you think.