Thursday, March 23, 2017

Waiting for Alice

When she is good, she is very very good. But when she has not been allowed to mature in storage, Lady Alice is starchy and blah.

Alice is fabulous in late March and in April. And yet, the ladies keep showing up in the supermarkets in February. This year, in January.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Eating old apples

It'll be many months before I eat anything fresh-picked from an orchard, so the topic of keepers, and of the long-lived varieties that do well in controlled atmosphere storage, has been much on my mind.

Keepers, sometimes called winter apples, are varieties that will stay good for months in a root cellar or refrigerator.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Celestial surprise

I don't always do the greatest job of keeping track of my apple acquisitions. So it was this morning, when I found my last Celestia apple in a bag in my fruit bin.


It was past its prime but still quite good, with strong rich flavors that had matured in storage.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

So you like Golden Delicious


Do you like steady, mellow, and well flavored Golden Delicious? This honeyed variety has enriched the world of apples as much or more than any. It is reliably consistent and easy to eat. It stores well and is available year round.

However, Golden Delicious is best during or after the October harvest. If you are eating Golden D in late summer or early fall, you really owe it to yourself to try some of the great varieties that are available fresh.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The invention of Red Delicious

From U.S. Plant Patent No. 90, circa 1934:

My invention relates to improvements in apples of the type depending on color and earliness of coloring for a portion of their commercial value. The objects of my improvement are, first, to provide an apple of the well-known Delicious type which will color about two weeks earlier than the Delicious and therefore be ready to reach the earlier and higher priced markets; and second, to secure on each tree a higher percentage of fruits having the desired high coloring.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

PRI comprises sprightly private fingerprint

There's a story, probably apocryphal, that the Purdue, Rutgers & Indiana apple breeding co-op sprinkled a private imprimatur into the names of many of its apples.

The story is that this surprise fingerprint can be found in the names of such varieties as Pristine (1994), Williams Pride (1986), and Enterprise (1993), each in its own way a priceless example of the breeders' art.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Correction

In this space, I recently published some misinformation about some research into the breeding ancestry of the Honeycrisp apple.

I regret the error. Here is the real story.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

McIntosh x Delicious

Breed the noble McIntosh with the ubiquitous Delicious, and you'll get a different variety every time you do.

But when the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station at Cornell University did so in 1945, it created Empire.

This apple is a reliable, crisp variety that boasts generic versions of the berry-and-wine flavors that characterize most of the vast McIntosh family.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Stellar notes

Have you noticed the absence of apples in the night sky? Apples feature prominently in classical mythology. Meanwhile, we have constellations to things like The Fly.

Enlightenment thinkers esteemed the pomacious fruit but neglected to place any in the heavens, meanwhile frescoing the southern sky with The Clock and The Chisel and The Compass Case, for goodness sakes.

Snakes and birds galore.
Well, this post is not about any of that. Rather it is my annual rating of the apples I've tasted for the first time, using a Michelin-esque three-star scale.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The young Turk apples are aging well

I have been feasting this month on Pacific Rose, Opal, and Piñata apples.


These three millennial varieties bring something long absent to the table: flavor. They are part of the leading edge of what I hope will prove to be a long-term trend towards taste.

Don't get me wrong: You could always get flavorful varieties at orchards, if you know where to go. Here's what I mean in terms of supermarket apples (North America version).

Friday, January 13, 2017

Empire versus Rubyfrost smackdown

Two years ago I had the idea of comparing Macoun with Rubyfrost.

This was an appealing thought because both are products of the same breeding program in New York, separated by 90 years. But it proved not a fair match.

So this year I am back with what ought to be a more apt comparison: Rubyfrost (r) versus Empire, also from the same breeding program.
Those tiny white streaks are snowflakes.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Green Dragon


Here on the East Coast, new North American varieties usually debut in winter. Green Dragon entered the market here in December.

These are shapely tapered apples just on the green side of the yellow border. The color flirts with that border, sometimes crossing it on the sunward side where some examples sport a pale and tentative orange glow.

Ribbing is moderate, though in some samples there are nearly flat regions that intersect to create a distinct edge.

The many small light lenticels are all but invisible except where russet or some other agent discolors them. Green Dragon bears the striking fragrance of green-apple candy.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Best wishes for 2017

Very best wishes from me to you for the year to come.

This has always been a seasonal blog, overflowing with images and ideas in the harvest season but with fewer and more contemplative columns in the winter and spring.

But this year, to my surprise, I stopped writing for four whole months. I didn't plan that. Am I finally running out of steam?