Monday, May 27, 2019


a ribbed red appleA round red apple

The best apples are a blend of sweet and tart.

These apples are in or near the sweet spot where the tension between sugar and tartness is perfectly balanced and the flavors sing.

The old pomologists used the term "subacid" to describe an apple that had some acidity in the mix, but which stopped just short of being predominantly acid.

If you have a sweet-biased palate for apples, as many do today, you might reframe this as "just moderately tart."

"Subacid" is used used in older reference works such as Spencer Beach's 1905 Apples of New York.


Beach allows for considerable variation: Opalescent is "agreeable mild subacid," while the more strongly flavoured Esopus Spitzenburg is "sprightly subacid."

Still others are "subacid mingled with sweet," "briskly subacid," and so forth.

If these friendly epithets are intended with any kind of scientific precision, I cannot detect it.

The term is still used today with, as far as I can tell, the same level of specificity (low).

In the early days of this blog, I took a stab at exploring this term and mostly got it wrong.

However, I think my conclusion at that time that "subacid" came into use sometime in the first half of the Seventeenth Century is correct.


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