Wednesday, September 5, 2018
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.
On the left is medium-sized Zestar, a pastel orange-pink blush over a pale spring green, only slightly ribbed. The broken stem is thick and stubby and the calyx is closed.
The green of the smaller Paula Red is darker and the red blush more saturated and a truer red. Its calyx is slightly parted and the fruit is perhaps slightly more ribbed, but only just.
Both have many small tan lenticels that you have to look closely to see.
By the way: there’s nothing built in about the sizes of these apples, it’s just how the samples roll.
I give the beauty contest to Zestar, whose fine colors give it a kind of designer quality.
Still, it’s what’s inside that counts.
Zestar is pleasant and juicy, a little spongy but still crisp, breaking off into chunks.
The flavors are attenuated and I would probably miss the celebrated banana note if I did not know to look for it. Zestar's fine-grained white flesh has a slightly green cast.
By contrast Paula Red comes across as a bit tart. Its fine-grained white flesh is shot with green and it bears generically vinous tastes and, charmingly, strawberry.
Compared to Zestar, Paula is crisper and more tart. She eats like a member of the McIntosh family, though she's not.
Returning to Zestar after Paula makes the flavors of the former, including that banana (which is really only part of the package but a good identifier) more obvious.
It’s hard to rate these against the other. They are different apples that quench different thirsts. The pair are about equal quality overall.
They are quite good together! in a better-than-sum-of parts way.
I call it a tie, but you should try them both to decide which you like best.
Extra credit: Paula is basically the same apple as Dandee Red.