Saturday, December 22, 2018

A rare intimate look

Although others have asked about my refrigerator, it isn't really a back door to Narnia. There's nothing special about it.

A shelf inside a refrigerator, mostly empty

But on Monday, when I went hunting for my last review apple of the year, I found some surprises.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Scarlett O'Hara **

Large red apple with some yellow showing through the blush in one spot

Scarlett O’Hara has a reputation as an apple that improves in storage.

I waited two weeks before trying one of these, and then another month and a half before tasting the second.

Quick take: This handsome flavorful apple juxtaposes some unexpected tastes in an appealing way. It has a great crunch, and is a first-rate keeper.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The nose knows

The stem-end of an apple with a fold or "nose" of apple in the stem well
The stem end of this Esopus Spitzenberg has a "nose" in the stem well.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Surprisingly well kept

Stacks of golden-olive Ashmead's Kernal apples on wooden steps in dappled sunshine

I ate my last Ashmead's Kernel today, surprisingly good after several months in my refrigerator.

(That said, my fridge sometimes resembles the wardrobe to Narnia in the way it can cough up apples I did not realize I still had.)

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Winter fruit

At an indoor market, bins of apples.
Winter market came early this year!

You could buy 14 different kinds of apples there today, as follows.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The day of the remains

Bins of apples set on tables outside a truck with a group of people in the background
The last day of Farmers market in Davis Square, Somerville, earlier today.
The day before American Thanksgiving marks the end of the urban farmers markets in these parts.

The suburban markets had their last hurrah on Halloween.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Three apples to know in November

They are Suncrisp, Baldwin, and Topaz.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Gather them in

Inside a vast, barn-like store are baskets and wooden bins that hold 17 kinds of apples.

There were 17 kinds of apples today at Volante Farms in Needham, Mass.

It's a good place to get apples in what I think of as pirate season, when orchard-fresh apples grow scarce but can still be found.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Every fruit a number

Fruit sticker reading :Ashmead's Kernal 94194"

The wily Ashmead's Kernel, bagged, labeled, and PLUed.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Climax and contraction

A woman shopping among bins of apples
The last of the year.
As the harvest and the market and the season swell with unbearably sweet ripe fecundity,

At that very moment of climactic eucatastrophe, when the labor and the fullness and the promise of the year are redeemed: cruel ice of winter, mud and blossom of spring, the heat and toil of summer, and all,

That is when the feast is undermined, the seeds of contraction have taken root.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Pot o gold

Rainbow in background, Arlington Farmers Market in foreground church steeple at left
A rainbow touches down over a fall farmers market in Arlington, Massachusetts, earlier today.
What's at the end of that rainbow?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Criterion **

Conical yellow apple with partial orange blush

This foundling apple can be large, but the ones I bought are medium sized.

They are classically conical and tapered with pronounced ribbing, a pretty light yellow with an attenuated red-orange blush. The peel is smooth and glossy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Views from the market

Many different kinds of apples each in their own wooden bin set up under a blustery sky. Shoppers bow their heads into the wind.

Above: It was so windy at Arlington's Farmers Market earlier today that this vendor did not even try to set up their usual awning.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

King David Watercored

An apple with several bites taken out. The light yellow flesh has glassy yellow streaks in it.

Yes, it's the King David apple. With a mild case of watercore.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The lot of the pick

Heritage and other apples in wooden bins with little hand-written signs
Just a small sample of what was for sale last weekend at Shelburne Farm in Stow, Massachusetts.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Vote with your mouth

4 platters with cut pieces of apples. There are only 2 pieces of Cox's left.
Apple tasting featuring (left to right) Crimson Crisp, Cox's Orange Pippin, Ashmead's Kernel, and Macoun.
I organized an apple tasting for my colleagues where I work today, and got a visual demonstration of their collective taste in apples.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Sweet 16 revisited

Large, ribbed, red-blushed apple with a blemish spot near the crown on one side.

Yes, there was a flaw in this apple.

I bought it anyway because so what, and also because it was the only one left.

I've been wanting to retaste Sweet 16 ever since some of my readers told me that my 2011 tasting sample did not express this apple's true flavors. So:

Friday, October 5, 2018

Westfield Seek-No-Further returns

Handsome apple with pinkish blush

Seek no further!

This large and essentially spherical apple (though slightly oblate) has a very pretty layered blush that is in some places a warm pink. In others there is a kind of Indian red, with brown tones.

(A second sample is a little conical and has a more classical shape.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

25 and counting

Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays ou il exist deux cent quarante-six variétés de fromage? How can you govern a country that has two hundred and forty-six kinds of cheese?

We may not be in DeGaulle territory yet, but I was delighted to count 25 varieties of apples at my local farmers market today.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Riverbelle (Sweet Riverbelle) *

From its sparse striped blush to its lobed ribbing, today's apple is visually distinctive.

Yellow apple with red stripes

Riverbelle's red streaks are broken and spread so thinly over the light yellow peel as to appear orange. The apple's tiny lenticel dots are easiest to spot in the unblushed peel, where they are green.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Apple tip o the year


Apples in wooden bins

There were 17 kinds of apples at farmers market on Saturday.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Rich September

I am used to thinking of September as a kind of calm-before-the-storm hiatus of the fall parade of apples.

Wooden bins full of different kinds of apples

Today however I counted 17 different varieties at farmers market, including Ribston Pippin, Ashmead's Kernel, Wickson, and Westfield Seek-No-Further.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Zestar versus Elstar Smackdow

Two partially blushed apples

Two modern August apples, crisp and sweet. Zestar (L)—sometimes "Zest Star"—from Minnesota, and Elstar, from the Netherlands.

So, it's 'Star vs. 'Star. Which is best?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fancy a nice stale apple?

A wrinkled apple
Not this guy.
It's almost fall, so perhaps you are thinking about biting into an apple that has been lying around in storage for the last 12 months.

No? This time of year there's a good chance that the McIntoshs or Honeycrisps for sale at your supermarket are from last year's harvest.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Summer cornicopia

I am used to thinking of the early harvest as a sort of wasteland. A niche for a canny apple breeder to fill (though not, if you please, with another Honeycrisp wannabe).

Wooden bins of 4 early apples at farmers market

Yet by Labor Day I had already enjoyed 10 fresh local varieties.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Zestar versus Paula Red smackdown

Two apples side by side

This amiable paring came about by accident.

The two apples are both ripe in August but are very different. One is a sweet modern apple and the other is probably the best early Mac-style pick.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Apple of the Week: Chestnut Crab

A pile of small piebald apples, red, olive, and russet colors

Do I cook with these? a woman asked me at Farmers Market.

I told her they were great eating apples, but I don't think she believed me. Misled by the size and by the myth of sour crabs.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Apple of the Week: Gravenstein

Two streaky apples, red over spring green
Gravenstein is the Macoun of August.

These are not quite at peak where I live, but still worth seeking out.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Forever sugar

It's August already and we are up to the very fine Gravensteins.

Well into the harvest.

Personally I am not looking back, but it just hit me that today it is possible to eat super sweet varieties all year round and never have the joy of tart local fruit.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Goodby, Willams Pride

Get out your tiny violins.

A dark red apple with tan speckles

My sole source for Williams Pride, one of my favorite August apples, has none this year and will be pulling the trees down to grow something else.

The apples are susceptible to bitter pit and just too ornery to grow.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Apple of the Week: Pristine

Two light green apples, one with a small faint pink blush
Eat us now!
The best of the super earlies, crisp and lively Pristine has snap and sophistication.

They are ripe now, so what are you waiting for?

Monday, July 23, 2018

10 Years of Adam's Apples

Ten years ago today, in my very first blog post, I said,

Neither a farmer nor a gourmet, I can't promise technical explanations or rarefied flights of fancy.

Still, there is a rich variety of apples still available here in New England, including many heirlooms.

If you don't know these apples, prepare to be amazed.

Maybe there has been a rarified flight of fancy or two. Still, my best work here is when the prose gets out of the way and the apples speak.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

And so it begins

A tapered green apple on a rock

Perhaps not the best apple of all time, but the event it heralds has no match in the calendar of fruit.

The above Lodi apple is the first of the 2018 apple harvest.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Fraud gallery

In the last few years we've seen some new faces on the supermarket shelves.

Kiku is sweet and crisp and juicy. Mahana Red is crisp and juicy and sweet.

Kiku apple
Mahana Red apple
Mahana Red

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The stingiest month

April may be the cruelest month, but this particular June feels like the stingiest.

Of course there can be no fresh local fruit this month, but the southern hemisphere had a harvest not too long ago.

Where are those apples? Not in supermarkets.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Herefordshire Pomona

containing coloured figures and descriptions of the most esteemed kinds of apples and pears.

Color plate from the Herefordshire Pomona
Source: The Herefordshire Pomona, Volume II

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A fairy tale that's not even wrong

"Honeycrisp Saves the World"

magical apples floating in air bearing tiny houses

Recently National Public Radio's "Planet Money" decided to explain apples to us.

Because the true story of the apple and cider renaissance is so boring, the explanation came in the form of a fairy tale, once upon a time, in which nearly every story element is unfaithful to the truth.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A dab of mustard

Pinata apple with jar of mustard

Imagine my surprise to find mustard in my apple last week.

Not the actual golden brown spicy stuff, but rather its distinctive tang. Minus the heat.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Calm before the bloom

Bare apple trees
Not a bud has burst earlier today at Huchins Farm in Concord, Massachusetts.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Five apple names with stories to tell

I love how every apple has a story. Sometimes the stories come with titles, in the names of the apples.

Here are five of them.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Apple Snob

As the saying goes: blogging = focus + voice.

I've nailed the focus bit. But sometimes I fret about the voice.

Meet the Apple Snob, an online persona I have played with, though only in my head.

Dashing fellow with a bicycle
Tally ho!

Because who does not like a little knowing snark with their fruit?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The attack of the Honeycrisp wannabees

Honeycrisp regnant
Who shall dethrone the mighty Honeycrisp?
The wolves have been circling for some time around old King Honeycrisp. This variety originated, and still dominates, the niche of super crisp, tooth-achingly sweet apples.

Honeycrisp's rival apples aspire to rule the kingdom, not to topple it. To supplant with same-only-better, not to challenge with new tastes and textures.

By when did the King get so old? What makes him vulnerable?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Apples on the web: Out on a Limb

More than a hundred thoughtful descriptions (and photos) of apples are tucked away in a small website set up to manage the Out on a Limb Apple CSA (community supported agriculture).

list of apples

The descriptions are unsigned, but authorship must certainly belong to one of the CSA's farmers, apple sleuth and rescuer John Bunker.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Rip Van Winkle apple

GoldRush apples, from 2017 and 2016.

Long have I marveled at the wonderful keeping qualities of GoldRush, a modern variety developed by the PRI Co-op.

Packed well, GoldRush keeps in my ordinary refrigerator, peaking in April and still quite tasty in June.

So today, six months out, let's sample the fall 2017 harvest.

And while we are at it, the 2016 harvest too.