Saturday, August 1, 2020

Early Choices

Delicate pale yellow apple

There is a charming antique Russian apple called Yellow Transparent, also called White Transparent, of surprising sophistication if you get good ones. 

That's challenging as this early August variety is at peak for about 45 minutes.

Almost nobody grows it these days, which is a shame, but there are two modern varieties that sort of fill the same niche.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Danger Year

Masked shoppers lined up at farmers market
Socially distanced farmers market, Arlington, July 21

When I started this blog twelve years ago last week, I had no idea where it would go or take me.

In this uncertain and fearful time, that is more true than ever.

To my readers, again: thank you, take care, take special care, and be well.

And, watch this space.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Apples on the Web:
National Gardening Association

Feel like an apple?

A drawer from a card file, full of cards

The National Gardening Association (U.S.) lists 1532 of them (as of this writing), with more added regularly.

The Association's searchable plants database has an apples section, listed in alphabetical order with a first-letter index and a search function.

What's Included

The cultivar listings are aimed at the home gardener, with information such as cold-hardiness zones. 

Except for a photo, not always present, there is not much information about the apple itself. Here's an example listing, McIntosh.

Towards the end of each listing is, if known, the parentage of the cultivar. 

There is also a link to a page listing the children of the apple described. Some sports may be included on this page.

If the listing for McIntosh offspring is any indication, these may be incomplete, but still an impressive resource and a good place to start.


The apples database is part of the greater plants database, which reflects an orientation towards flowers, bushes, and other plants that do not bear edible fruit.

Most of the information in each listing applies to all apples, such as springtime blossoms and a preference for full sunlight and a mesic (moderately wet) habitat.

Home growers might like to know when varieties are ripe. However, they must look elsewhere for this and other information about the fruits of these trees.


Its database is only one of many online resources the Association provides to the home gardener.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Apples of my Eye


Conical yellow apple

Lemonade, above, is a right good apple, well balanced and eminently worth choosing.

But the main reason I was glad to see this variety last month is geographic. My Lemonades grew in New Zealand and were picked in the spring. 

They are half a year fresher than the other apples in stores today. And, you can taste it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Wages of Fame is Spam

The top of a red apple

A passing mention of this blog on the website of an obscure tech company has led to some very welcome attention. (Hi everyone! Check me out!)

Alas, it has also brought comment spam in force.

For the time being, I am moderating all comments here.

Sunday, May 17, 2020


Rows of blooming apple trees recede into the distance
A cool spring has left the trees wearing their party finery as late as today. (Carlson Orchard, Harvard Massachusetts)

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Jazz vs. Koru Smackdown

Two apples

There's really no rationale for comparing these two sturdy varieties except that I am apt to turn to them to brighten up the apple-bleak springtime.

Though the two apples were developed in New Zealand, today's samples grew in the U.S., almost certainly in Washington state.

In better times fresh versions of these apples harvested in the southern hemisphere in March or April would be entering American supermarkets.

Sunday, May 3, 2020


Pink buds on an apple tree
The kernels are ready to pop at Nagog Hill Farm yesterday.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Pineapple Crunch

Pineapple Crunch apple
A really good apple I sampled back in 2017 is finally seeing the light of day here.

On the small side of medium, this attractive yellow apple sports a partial orange-bronze blush on the sunward side.

It has many tiny lenticels, some quite dark, but the most striking feature are several small round splotches of saturated red, like drops of paint.

There is some of this in both blushed and unblushed regions, and some of the lenticels are similarly colored.

Friday, April 24, 2020

EverCrisp-Fuji Smackdown

Two red apples, one oblate, the other tapered

Who's your daddy? EverCrisp's pollen parent is Fuji.

Today we are tasting two related varieties harvested last fall and purchased this month in supermarkets.

They are not at peak, but both are sturdy, crunchy varieties bred to survive long-term storage and handling.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

EverCrisp in April

EverCrisp is the Midwest Apple Improvement Association's entry into the Honeycrisp Succession Derby. I found it in my local supermarket this month.

Red apple with large tan dots and a supermarket sticker

How well does this variety, ever crisp, weather the wholesale chain? My other samples were all direct from local growers (and earlier).

I bought three, emblazoned with PLU stickers, to find out.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Well Red

If you are missing fresh apples this winter as much as I am, you might enjoy a video slide show of red-fleshed apples from the USDA watercolor collection.

Thanks to Bill Lyon, a Twitter friend, for pulling this together.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Passing of an Apple Giant

Eliza Greenman reports the sad news:

It is with a heavy heart to report the passing of C. Lee Calhoun, Southern apple hunter.

Calhoun is the author of Old Southern Apples. For many years he and his wife, Edith, operated a nursery that was a source of rare and regional apple varieties.

Greenman met Calhoun several times. Her account includes more about the man, his life, and his devotion to apples.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Apple Stars on Parade

I rate apples from one to three stars.

Once a year at this time, I add ratings for recent finds and make adjustments.

In 2019, I tasted 16 apples for the first time, and resampled some others. Here's my verdict.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Midwest 633

Orange: you would really have to call this flame-colored apple orange, or at least halfway there from red.

This as-yet unnamed apple (633 is just a placeholder) has an uneven blush over yellow, marked in places with many tan lenticel dots.

It is largish and classically shaped, with a deep stemwell that swallows most of the thick stem. There is a small amount of ribbing.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Midwest 681

Crimson apple

Isn't this pretty? Large medium, with a deep crimson red that covers every place except a few shade spots, which are yellow.

The color is a little lighter, pastel-like, just around the base.

Tiny light dots accent the saturated blush, and there is a satiny sheen.

Sunday, January 12, 2020


These classically shaped apples run medium to large with next to no ribbing. Lenticel dots are dark when russeted, as most are, but otherwise hard to see against the yellow peel.

The stem, absent from my photographed example, is long and thin. One of the apples has a green tint in the yellow.

A honey-sweet aroma suggests Golden Delicious ancestry.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Sweet Zinger

Large attractive red apple with light spots
Today's apple is another from the Midwest Apple Improvement Association. It is large and blocky and a little ribbed, and feels firm and substantial.

Its red blush is tinted with a dollop of orange and is accented by large tanned dots. The unblushed area is a light yellow, and the peel is attractively glossy.

The stem well is quite deep, and at the other end the calyx is partially open.

Saturday, January 4, 2020


Glossy red apple

This is a large apple, a little broad in the beam but still slightly tapered.

It has a subdued "dusty" orange-red blush that is a kind of streaky over light lemon yellow. The streaks are streaked with a very fine brush.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Small Milestones as the Year Turns

small dark apple in the snow

There was an apple I wanted to know more about. So, last September, I asked about it at the orchard's store.

That's when it happened.

"There's this website," the woman behind the counter told me, apple fan to apple fan."Adam's Apples."

That had never happened to me before. It was kind of cool.