Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Scarlet Crofton


This old Irish apple has a marvelous painterly look, with Celtic knots of russet, lenticels, and sooty blotch dancing across the red-blushed peel.

I got seven heritage apples to try at Cider Days on November 4, and this is the gnarliest.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Benoni

This small, slightly oblate apple, perhaps 2 inches across, is ribbed, sometimes extremely so. It has a streaky red blush over light yellow, tinted orange where the blush is thin. The lenticels are effectively invisible.

I have two samples that bear a sweet cider aroma.

In early November, Benoni's flesh is soft and yielding, on its way to mealy but with plenty of miles left before it gets there. It turns out that Benoni is a summer apple.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Surprise


Red- and pink-fleshed apples are experiencing a moment right now, though the effect is sometimes muted by climate.

Many of these varieties (but not all) need an environment milder than ours to develop their internal colors fully.

Still Surprise's pink marbling is striking.

On the outside, this medium-sized apple, ribbed, alternates yellow-green, green yellow, and a light orange pink.

Is that last a blush, or does it relate to places where pink flesh lies immediately beneath the glossy peal? The surface is decorated with brown lenticel dots.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

RosaLynn


With its magenta-tinged red blush and prominent lentical spots, this large, round, slightly flattened apple reminds me visually of Opalescent. (Some are tapered.)

Pretty RosaLynn's shiny blush is streaky in places, but coverage is very good. The unblushed yellow region of the apple in the photo above shows where, probably, another apple cast its shadow.

These have deep stem wells and minor but real ribbing. Mine came all the way from Washington State. Enroute they lost any aroma they might normally have off the tree.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Crow Egg


Wouldn’t it be handy if apples came labeled? Someone wrote “Crow Egg” on the top of mine with a sharpie. That's the mark of having lots of apples and wanting to keep things straight.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Frostbite vs. Wickson smackdown

This head-to-head became inevitable the moment I first tasted malty Frostbite. Wickson has some similar flavors and qualities, and both make weighty historical claims.

One thing that might not be obvious from my photo is that these apples are both small. Frostbite is about 2 inches in diameter, and Wickson is a large crabapple.

But which is best?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Cue's Favorite


Joe Podles, who lives here in Massachusetts, named this apple (after "Cue," his dad) and has grafted it for other growers.

Back in the day, that would have been enough to make Cue's Favorite a full-fledged named variety.

In 1880, there might have been a report about Cue's Favorite in the proceedings of some horticultural society, and that would be that.

Perhaps Spencer Beech would have collected it into his book, the Apples of New York, in 1909—without as much as a single plant patent, trademark, apple club, or or Twitter account in sight.

But today this pleasing apple has no such status, and Cue's Favorite is but a nickname.

Which means, gentle reader, that your options for finding this apple are limited.

More on all of that below the fold.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Winesap vs. Stayman Smackdown

At farmers market, careless vendors sometimes confuse these two varieties, which are thought to be related (Stayman, son of Winesap). But they are not the same.

How then does each stack up against the other?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Bonkers


“Bonkers” is a nickname for this otherwise nameless apple, but one that is used widely.

These can get positively huge, but I bought two that are merely conventionally large (one a little runty, in fact). Why: it’s mid October and I have to leave room to eat more apples.

The apple in the photo is squat and trapezoidal. Its cross section from the top is oval, rather than round. Turns out there is a reason behind the odd shape, though they aren’t all like that.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Leathercoat feast


Ashmead's Kernel, Roxbury Russet, and Golden Russett. When you see these three gentlemen, you know that the heart of the harvest has arrived.

Join me for a taste.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

A boom in heritage apples, in the UK

The Guardian, in a story published on Apple Day (today), describes

a burgeoning movement of growers and enthusiasts using old books and modern DNA testing to identify, propagate, and popularise Britain’s wealth of rare apples.

According to the story,

Britain is enjoying a remarkable apple boom, as hundreds of new community orchards revive lost varieties and contribute to a thriving heritage market.

These include many varieties not catalogued by the National Fruit Collection.

One organization even employs an Apple Diversity Officer. Now, there's a job to dream on!

Gather ye Apples while ye May


The scene at the Union Square (Somerville) farmers market earlier today.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Frostbite

Is there a fitter name for an apple that is cold-hardy down to −40° F? (The tree, not the fruit.)


But the best thing? It's really good.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

This Week: Baldwin


Once the king of American apples, this variety is named for the Revolutionary War hero who popularized it.

Baldwins are crisp, hard, and richly flavored. They mellow in storage.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Ribston and Cox's Orange Pippins


Long have I sought to pair these two English apples. Cox's is legendary, and Ribston, also known as Glory of York, is widely supposed to be Cox's parent.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Firecracker (Bill's Redflesh, Scarlet Surprise)


According to the grower, these diminutive crabapples—the largest might be an inch tall—are super tart and used to make cider.

The staff at Shelburne Farm told me that these were Firecrackers. Maybe they are, but I have some doubts, aired later in this post.

The apples are certainly pretty enough, though imperfect. This orchard sustained a good deal of hail damage last summer.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

White Crabapple


I do not know if the name of this apple is an error, a joke, or something else (named for a Mr. or Ms. White?), but I was not expecting this flamingo-pink interior.

The elongated, olive-shaped  fruit is small, though large for a crabapple, about 2 inches high. Each has a glossy peel that blushes from a delicate pink-orange wash to a saturated red.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Welcome to autumn!

It's apple season, welcome to Adam's Apples! If you are curious about this fruit you have come to the right place.

Here you can find more than 260 different varieties described in my opinionated catalog. If that's more than you can chew, you might visit my seasonal guide or my Michelin-style rating system for apples.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Chenango Strawberry


Spoiler alert: No strawberry flavors in mine. And it might not even be the right apple (but I think it is).

I have two of these charmingly named apples (SheNANGo, or so I imagine), medium sized, oblated, and with the merest ribbing.

The streaky red blush covers yellow green and is a dull crimson at its deepest. Prominent large light lenticels decorate the Strawberry's face. They provide some tactile bumpiness, and the strands of russet are rough to the touch.

There are also dimples and divots from hail, a grassy aroma, and a satiny finish.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Reinette Clochard (de Parthenay)

Clochard is straightforward enough: it means "tramp" (sometimes translated as "hobo.") Reinette means...whatever it is that Reinette means.


That part is a little less straightforward, but in regard to apples if you read the link you will see why I take the word to be a claim of a kind of quality. A reinette is a cut above.

So "Reinette Clouchard" suggests a quality apple, but one with a rough common touch.

Let's see.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Harvest in Earnest


I didn't bother to count all the kinds of apples for sale in Davis Square earlier today.

Monday, September 25, 2017

This Week: Opalescent

For an old-fashioned, high-quality desert apple, try the splendid Opalescent—if you can! This heritage apple is hard to find.


Opalescent is large and handsome: I use this photo of it as my personal online avatar.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Antonovka Kamenichka


A generous reader sent me today's Antonovka, along with some very fine Jonareds (sports of Jonathon) from his garden orchard. Thank you, Mark.

My squat, painterly Antonovka runs a mini rainbow from spring green to a faint peach, the latter a blush spread thinly over a peel that is largely yellow.

The small lenticels are hard to see except where filled with dark russet, and there is an odd glassy region on the side opposite the blush. Am I seeing watercore from the outside?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Akane

Akane apple is pronounched "Ah-kah-nay"

I was unimpressed when I tried Akane back in 2010. But a reader told me to sample this variety fresh off the tree for the real story.

Given that my 2010 Akane was on the early side, and from a food co-op in Seattle, a redo seemed like a reasonable item for the apple bucket list. But it's not grown widely here, and this is my first crack at a second bite.

Friday, September 15, 2017

This week: McIntosh

Oh sure, you could find them for sale (unripe) last month.



But now McIntosh is finally at peak! All hail the King of Fall.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Puritan returns


Puritan was one of the first apples I reviewed on this blog, back in early August of 2008.

Rereading that review made me think that apple might have been picked early. So when I saw it again, in early September this time, I decided it was time for a second bite.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sticker Shock

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Testing the sugar waters again

I'm a fair minded guy so decided to revisit the Great Sugar Bomb, Honeycrisp.


No, I'm not a fan—through I do appreciate them in a sort of arms-length abstract way.

I've been told that Honeycrisp is not so super sweet in its native Minnesota. Today's apple only hails from Western Massachusetts, but was orchard fresh and different in appearance than the hulking planetoids I have seen in the past.

Anyway, I had hopes that my tastebuds would catch a glimpse of something different this time.

Monday, September 4, 2017

What's pickin'? Smart farmers tell

Three cheers for Volante Farms in Needham, and their website. In season, this web page reliably tells what apple varieties they have to sell.

Yesterday, Genevieve Weston, of Weston's Antique Apples, shared a list of a dozen apple varieties that are ready to eat, in a Facebook post.

Macks' Apples in New Hampshire reeled me in a few years ago with this tweet:


I'm no fool: I got myself right up there.

Clarkdale Fruit Farms has a weekly e-newsletter with current fruit information.

Here's the pitch. If you want to sell apples, tell people specifically what you've got today.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Genes bring apple history into focus

DNA orbit animatedWe all know that apples are from Kazakhstan. But today, gene resequencing techniques are telling us more about the long voyage of the apple from the wilds of the Tien Shen mountains to the U-Pick orchard.

In particular, the modern European-style apple is a cross between the original Kazakh apple, Malus sieversii, and the European crab apple, M. sylvestris.

Friday, August 25, 2017

This week: Paula Red

Are you missing McIntosh this week? That classic fall apple is still a good 3 weeks away (4 if you don't want yours green).


In the meantime there is Paula Red, the best of the early Mac-like varieties of August (take that, Jersey Mac!)

Friday, August 18, 2017

This week: Gravenstein

This apple, tart, sweet, and complex, may be the best of August. Gravenstein makes me think of an early Macoun.



It is the one to get this week! and probably the next.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

What a difference nine years makes

I've finally replaced the worst photograph I've ever published on this blog with something better:


It's a Jersey Mac, reviewed here in 2008. It was the second apple review that I wrote for this blog, and the second apple that I photographed.

I still think I nailed it with the review, but the photo was just awful.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

At the start of my tenth apple harvest

I jumped into this blog at the start of the harvest in 2008, eager to see what farmers market had in store.





There have been pleasant surprises every year, and I have always tried to fulfill my promise to share wonder without adding too many frills.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Lodi meets GoldRush


In this photograph, Lodi (left) and GoldRush clasp hands across the seven barren months that divide one harvest from another.

Lodi, the tapered green fruit at left, is the harbinger of the new harvest, the first and only apple at farmers market.

GoldRush was picked last October and has spent its days in my mudroom and refrigerator.

Let's see how they compare.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

No apples yet

The cupboard is bare at Nagog Hill Farm yesterday.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The apple sleuths

There's Lee Calhoun, who chased the old apples and their stories across the south.

He rescued 400 varieties from near extinction though the primal wizardry of jamming a stick from the old tree into the rooted trunk or branch of a younger one and making them live on as one. Magic.

Tom Burford plowed similar turf, while John Bunker did (and does) much the same in Maine. No American state has a finer apple heritage.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The bag with the heavenly aroma


This bag held my stash of Gold Rush apples for two and a half seasons.

It smells wonderful.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Apples to Apples

I've learned a lot by comparing apples, eating and weighing two different breeds together.

Sometimes these head-to-head contests are lighthearted, sometimes for higher stakes, and sometimes to settle specific questions (such as, "is this early Mac very Mac-like?"). I almost always learn something new.

Turns out, I've held more than 30 of these contests. Here are some of the more interesting ones.

Monday, June 12, 2017

June gold

Goldrush apples picked last fall
Photographed June 11
I'm still eating the Gold Rush apples I laid down last Halloween and began eating in April.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Breeze (Gala, Galafresh)

Fooled again.

It's not unusual this time of year to see one or two new kinds of apples in stores, fresh off the boat from New Zealand or other points south. So I pounced on Breeze when I found it last week in a local supermarket.

To cut to the chase: They're Galas.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Rescue from a bleak spring (with music)

Note (or, perhaps, Warning):

The Music Appreciation Department at Adam's Apples has selected a recording to play in the background as you read today's report.

Mid-spring is the nadir of the apple year. The fall harvest is a distant memory and the first apples of summer are 3 months distant.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gateway apples

To the extent this blog has a message, it is appreciation of the many diverse kinds of apples that are still grown, enjoyed, and loved.


Towards that end from time to time I take my best shot at pitching alternatives to fans of some of the standard popular varieties.