Today's two samples, picked on Sunday, are small and medium, very ribbed (see photo), oblate, and slightly conical.
Each is a delicate spring green, nearly yellow in places, with a small tentative orange-red blush.
The lenticel dots are faint and a darker green, though lighter in the blush. The peel has a little dull gloss to it.
Biting InThe larger and better of these was yielding but firm, slightly crisp, and sweet, tempered by enough tart to be lively. Its dense white flesh was even a little juicy (though not very).
The apple made for an appealing snack, with berry flavors, ginger, a touch of vanilla, and a little floral quality all working together in a very pleasant way.
My better Hightop Sweeting was perhaps not perfectly ripe yet, but nearly so. Of the pair, it had the superior texture and, mostly, flavor, but its finish had a tartness that verged on harsh.
Not so the overripe smaller one, which had similar, though less defined, flavors and was softer and had watercore.
Like many of the earlies, Hightop oxidizes quickly.
The Lore of the AppleThis lovely antique variety from colonial Massachusetts is a welcome addition to the cohort of early apples.
Hightop Sweeting, according to the usual older sources, dates from Plymouth Colony in the 17th century.
There are many variants on the name (involving high, sweet, etc.,) including "Summer Sweet," but John Bunker informs us that is properly the name of another variety entirely.
Elizabeth Akers Allen ("Backward, turn backward, O time, in thy flight") wrote a poem to this apple that concludes,
Finer apples may redden and fall
For happy children's eating
But never a tree so brave and tall
Will grow as that by the orchard wall
The dear old tree that we used to call
The loveliest apple tree of all
The marvellous high top sweeting