Sunday, September 29, 2019

Frostbite and Williams Pride

Two apples, one at right very dark, the other also dark but streaky.

Most of the time, my comparison posts start by introducing the apples and asking, which is best?

This isn't that kind of thing. Instead the question is, will these apples go together as well as I imagine?

I got these apples, improbably, last week at Bear Swamp Orchard in Ashfield, Massachusetts. Improbably because where I live the Williams Pride peaked a month ago.

But according to the Bear Swamp folks, Ashfield, up in the hills of Western Massachusetts, has a growing season like that of Burlington, Vermont, 200 miles to the north.

These Williams Prides (at left in the photo) are very good, though arguably slightly past peak.

Williams typically has a lustrous dark red blush, but these are the darkest I have ever seen.

They usually run medium to large. These are a bit smaller. Tiny light lenticels decorate this dark face.

The Ashfield Frostbites, too, are darker than I have seen, if lighter and more orange than the Prides.

Some (not shown) have tan fractal patterns in part of the blush that resemble, but are not, russet. They are small, oblate, and glossy, with a sprinkle of light lenticels.

Tasting Together

The Frostbite is crackling crisp, with a sweet acid edge and a terrific malty note. Its coarse-grained flesh is juicy and slightly yellow.

The Williams Pride is softer but still very good, also juicy if slightly denser. The color of the flesh is similar, except that some of that deep intense red bleeds into the flesh from the peel.

(This is not the same mechanism as the coloring for the red-fleshed apples.)

Williams P is a bit sweeter than the Frostbite, with saturated lush fruit including a prominent cherry note that I have never noticed in the Pride before tasting this batch.

These are very agreeable together, each an intriguing foil to the other. However, there is no magic synergy that makes them greater together than the sum of their parts.

As for which is better, both deserve the two stars that I have given to each: excellent apple, worth seeking.


  1. Thanks for the comparison! These are two varieties I plan on adding to the orchard next year.

    1. They don't really belong together—Williams is an August apple and Frostbite does not come around until September. But apparently, in Ashfield, these things overlap.


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