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Posts Tagged ‘Apples of New England’

Fresh apples for sampling at Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield, Massachusetts, during Franklin County CiderDays. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Fresh apples for sampling at Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield, Massachusetts, during Franklin County CiderDays  (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

TWICE A DAY at least I reach into a paper bag in my refrigerator and pull out an apple. It could be any color, size, or shape — I like to be surprised. I take an apple on my morning and afternoon walks, where it can be savored in its natural environment, without distraction.

An apple is perfect for walking, clean and compact, fitting neatly in my pocket, giving me a sweet energy boost and fresh juice along the way. Apples work on all the senses, beautiful to behold (especially in contrast with November’s muted landscape) and lightly perfuming the air, their smooth, round or conical shape weighing comfortably in my hand.

While the last New England apples have been picked, the bounty of the harvest will last until late spring, at least. During the fresh harvest I was able to amass a wide variety of my favorite apples from around New England, which will supply my walks at least through Thanksgiving.

From my orchard visits in October I picked up small bags of Baldwin, Northern Spy, Rhode Island Greening, plus Honeycrisp, Jonagold, and McIntosh. I had some Gala, Empire, Macoun, and a few Silken left over from our booth at the Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”) in September.

One bag is filled with heirloom varieties like Esopus Spitzenburg, Ribston Pippin, and Roxbury Russet. There are a few loose stragglers on the refrigerator’s shelves, a Golden Delicious one day, Suncrisp the next. I never know what I will retrieve when I reach in.

Jonagold apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Jonagold apple            (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Monday I ate a Jonagold in the morning, and a Macoun in the afternoon — two of my favorite fresh eating apples. There are mixed reports about the storage qualities of Jonagold, a 1968 cross of Golden Delicious and Jonathan, but this one, purchased a month ago, held up beautifully, crisp and loaded with juice, with its characteristic flavor, sweet with a little tartness.

Macoun apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Macoun apple                  (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

After a similar time in storage, the Macoun, the offspring of McIntosh and Jersey Black parents introduced in 1923, remained crisp, and its flavor was rich and complex, with its spicy, strawberry notes more pronounced than ever.

Tuesday I ate two heirlooms, McIntosh from Canada (1801), and Northern Spy (1840 New York, from seeds from Connecticut).

McIntosh apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

McIntosh apple             (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

The Mac was outstanding, early in its flavor “arc” that sees the apple gradually sweeten and soften over several months. It had been two months since this McIntosh was harvested, and much of the apple’s tartness remained intact, giving it a rich flavor as beguiling as fresh-picked and spicier, more complex.

Northern Spy apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Northern Spy apple         (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

The pink Northern Spy was huge, firm, and juicy, its initial tartness gradually transforming into something broader and deeper. It is easy to see why this apple was a favorite for nearly a century despite being somewhat unreliable and difficult to grow, as it stores well, and is equally good for fresh eating and baking.

I began Wednesday with a giant Honeycrisp that had been sitting in the crisper drawer for about two months.

Honeycrisp apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Honeycrisp apple             (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

While still juicy, its flavor was unexceptional, certainly nothing like what the apple has become famous for since it hit the marketplace in 1991, from a 1961 cross of Keepsake and an unnamed seedling at the University of Minnesota.

Some Honeycrisp store better than others, depending on where they were grown and when they were picked, but it is an apple that is appreciably better eaten fresh. A good Honeycrisp can also be almost solid pink-red in color, much like Northern Spy.

Baldwin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Baldwin apple                 (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

I ended the day with a Baldwin, one of New England’s oldest varieties, dating back to 1740 in Wilmington, Massachusetts. Baldwin was the region’s most popular apple for nearly a century before McIntosh’s ascendancy in the early 1900s.

The Baldwin I ate was the crispest and tartest of the six apples I tasted during the three days (it may have been the last of these varieties to be picked). Beneath its round, nearly solid vermillion skin, freckled with cream-colored pores, or lenticels, the Baldwin’s crisp, juicy flesh was pleasingly tart at first but finished sweeter, ending in sublime flavors of pineapple and melon.

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The view from Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield, Massachusetts, early November. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

The view from Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield, Massachusetts, early November           (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

HERE ARE A FEW ways to get the most from your fresh apples:

When trying a new variety, always purchase at least four apples. Eat two of the apples a few days apart, within a week of purchase. No two apples are exactly alike. Subtle flavors like vanilla, nuts, or mango can vary in intensity from apple to apple, and sometimes can be hard to detect. By trying two fresh apples, you are more likely to experience the variety’s full range of flavors.

Place the other two apples in your refrigerator, and mark the date they were purchased or picked. Ideally, seal the apples in plastic bags and store them in your crisper drawer. As long as they are kept cold, though, most apples keep pretty well in a paper bag. Either bag helps them retain moisture, and keeps them from absorbing odors from foods around them.

Wait a month before tasting the first of these stored apples. Note if there is an appreciable difference in flavor and texture, good or bad. Some apples peak in flavor around this time.

Many varieties follow a similar ripening arc, albeit it at different rates, gradually losing some of their initial tartness and becoming sweeter, more complex, and juicier over time. The same variety can be appreciated in different seasons for different reasons.

From a crisp, tart green apple in late September, Shamrock gets progressively spicier and juicier for about a month before it begins to break down. The flesh of the Connecticut heirloom Sheep’s Nose is dry at harvest, but becomes mellower and juicier after a month or more in storage.

Idared’s best flavor will not emerge until the new year, when it excels in pies and in cider. The flavor of Suncrisp is said to improve in storage, but I wouldn’t know — I enjoy their sweet-tart, citrusy taste so much eaten fresh that I cannot seem to make one last long enough to find out. I have one left in my refrigerator this year, and I am determined to make it last to December, at least.

If your apple has held up well for 30 days, leave the remaining one in the refrigerator for another month (or more) before tasting it. Fuji is famous for its storage qualities. Russeted-covered apples like Ashmead’s Kernel and Roxbury Russet are well known for developing richer, more complex flavors in storage, sometimes months after they have been harvested.

Obviously, the apples available now in grocery stores, farmers markets, orchards, and farm stands, were picked weeks ago. But they have been maintained in either regular, or controlled atmosphere (CA) storage, retarding their ripening process.

Stored properly — meaning kept cold — the apples may be slightly less crisp than the day they were picked, but not much. You can test an apple’s ripening qualities any time you make your purchase.

Don’t reject perfectly good fruit. You can’t always judge an apple by its skin. Most surface blemishes on an apple are harmless and easily removed, such as a patch of apple scab, a dent from hail, or spot russeting. An otherwise fine apple can be misshapen because it rested on a branch as it grew. The apple’s flavor is in no way impaired.

All apples bruise if treated roughly, and some varieties are more susceptible than others. A thin-skinned apple like Silken or a tender-fleshed one like McIntosh require special care in handling. But a bruise here and there on an apple’s surface can easily be ignored, avoided, or removed.

A perfectly good apple often awaits beneath that less-than-perfect exterior. The Galas from The Big E are looking a little wrinkly on the outside, but their flesh remains firm and their flavor is as good as ever. The color of Galas changes in storage, too. It typically has patches of yellow at harvest, and gradually deepens to a rich red-orange.

Rub the apple, eat the skin. While apples leave the orchard and packinghouse clean, like all produce it is best to wash them off before eating, mostly because of the possibility of contamination by human handlers. You never know who may have previously picked up that apple in the bin.

The natural film or “bloom” on an apple, sometimes mistaken for pesticide residue, helps the apple retain moisture. Some of the bloom gets washed off in the packinghouse, and in some cases a drop of wax is applied to replenish it and give the apples a shine. Both the natural bloom and the cosmetic wax are harmless.

The majority of the chemicals used to treat apple pests and disease are applied in the spring and early summer, some before the fruit is even formed. Most residual traces of chemicals are washed off by rain over the summer, and apples entering the packinghouse are first dunked in a tank of water where they float for ten feet or more before entering the packing line, where they will be further buffed and brushed along the way.

But it’s always a good idea to clean your fruit before you eat it. The beauty of the apple is that you don’t need water to wash it— just rub it on your shirt, especially convenient when outdoors.

The peel and the flesh just beneath it contain much of the apple’s nutrients, so there are compelling reasons to eat it. That’s automatic for most people eating a fresh apple, but requires some rethinking on the part of many bakers and cooks. Prepared properly, though, apple skins can add color as well as nutrients to any dish.

Make sure your apples are ripe. It’s good to know what you are getting. The best way to tell if an apple is ripe is by examining its seeds. The apple should not be picked until the seeds are dark brown, almost black, in color.

If you find that some of your apples were not fully ripe when picked, you can eat them without harm. They are likely to be more tart than usual, though, may not store as well, and may have inferior flavor.

I purchased some Ginger Golds in August, and when I cut several of them open, their seeds were white, not brown. The apples tasted alright, but nowhere near as good as Ginger Golds I have had in the past.

Today, two-and-a-half months later, the apples have slowly ripened in my refrigerator, and the seeds are now medium brown. But the ripening has been uneven; the flavor is not much improved, the flesh is beginning to go soft, and they are not very juicy. Reluctantly, I’ll have to throw them out.

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For more information about New England apples, including where to find them, visit New England Apples.

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'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven PowellAPPLES OF NEW ENGLAND (Countryman Press, 2014), a history of apple growing in New England, includes photographs and descriptions of more than 200 apple varieties discovered, grown, or sold in the region. Separate chapters feature the “fathers” of American wild apple, Massachusetts natives John Chapman (“Johnny Appleseed”) and Henry David Thorea; the contemporary orchard of the early 21st century; and rare apples, many of them photographed from the preservation orchard at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts.

Author Russell Steven Powell is senior writer for the nonprofit New England Apple Association after serving as its executive director from 1998 to 2011. Photographer Bar Lois Weeks is the Association’s current executive director.

Available in bookstores everywhere.

'America's Apple' coverAMERICA’S APPLE, (Brook Hollow Press, 2012) Powell’s and Weeks’s first book, provides an in-depth look at how apples are grown, eaten, and marketed in America, with chapter on horticulture, John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed), heirloom apples, apples as food, apple drinks, food safety insects and disease, labor, current trends, and apple futures, with nearly 50 photographs from orchards around the country.

The hardcover version lists for $45.95 and includes a photographic index of 120 apple varieties cultivated in the United States. America’s Apple is also available in paperback, minus the photograph index, for $19.95, and as an ebook.

Available at numerous bookstores and orchards, and Silver Street MediaAmazon.comBarnes and Noble, and other online sources. For quantity discounts, email newenglandapples@verizon.net.

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The apple pie evaluators took their job seriously at White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

The apple pie evaluators took their job seriously at White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

AFTER TWO MONTHS of intensive research, we are forced to admit failure — once again — in our perennial quest to definitively answer a question that has plagued civilization since the discovery of the cooking fire: what is the best pie apple?

Our failure was not due to a lack of effort, and we had the help of prodigious pie-makers from across the region. We began by baking, inhaling, and serving more than 2,000 five-inch, single-serving apple pies at the Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”) for 17 days in September, and tasted not a few of them.

We talked pies with Kim Harrison, one of a team of volunteers that made the pies to raise funds for The Preservation Society in Granby, Massachusetts. We spoke with dozens of customers about the merits of one variety over another.

The Big E pies have a flaky top crust covering a filling of several varieties lightly spiced. Many people topped off their pie with vanilla ice cream, a few with thin slices of cheddar. The apples were supplied by five Massachusetts orchards: Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown, Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, Nestrovich Fruit Farm in Granville, Pine Hill Orchards in Colrain, and Red Apple Farm in Phillipston.

The apple pies at the Big E featured a mix of varieties. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

The apple pies at the Big E featured a mix of varieties. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Most of the pies included McIntosh, a perennial contender for the gold standard since its discovery on an Ontario farm more than two centuries ago. (McIntosh was introduced  to New England in 1868 by Vermont’s Dr. Thomas H. Hoskins.)

Its flavor and aroma are so good that most people forgive McIntosh’s tendency to break down when baked, and add at least some to any varietal mix.

Akane, an early season apple developed in Japan in 1937 and introduced in the United States in 1970, was also noteworthy in this year’s pies for its lightly tangy flavor and texture.

In our informal survey of visitors, opinions about the best pie apple ran the gamut, from heirlooms like Baldwin (Wilmington, Massachusetts, 1740) to recent entries such as Pink Lady (Australia, 1989). Northern Spy (East Bloomfield, New York, in 1840, from seeds from Salisbury, Connecticut) has a particularly loyal fan base.

The closest we came to discovery, though, was the radiance of a woman purchasing 14 Gravenstein apples, an early season heirloom from Europe that dates back to at least the 1600s. The now hard-to-find Gravs were popular in New England until the bitterly cold winter of 1933-34, when many of the trees perished (along with more than one million Baldwin trees). It has never recovered as a commercial apple, but can still be found at some orchards.

Pie preferences are often passed down from generation to generation. The woman purchasing 14 Gravensteins put six in her bag at first, and as we talked she kept adding to her total until she got to 14. She planned to make two pies with them, just the way her mother did.

It was not the first time during our years at The Big E that the sight of Gravensteins has inspired such passion, and we suspect it will not be the last. I have not made a pie using just Gravenstein, but if it is as good baked as it is eaten fresh, the woman may be on to something. The apples were special, bursting with juice, with a lightly crisp, lemony tart flavor.

The flavor of nearly all of the varieties cited at The Big E, we noted, is more tart than sweet. That’s not to say that you can’t make a great pie using sweet apples, but a hint of tartness lends a pie complexity and zest.

Bakers pose with their entries prior to judging at the 2014 Great New England Apple Pie Contest. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Bakers pose with their entries prior to judging at the 2014 Great New England Apple Pie Contest. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

NEXT WE TRIED immersion, serving as judges in the 5th Annual Great New England Apple Pie Contest October 18 at Wachusett Mountain’s annual AppleFest in Princeton, Massachusetts. We dutifully sampled 30 pies in less than two hours, using the two-bite method: an introduction to the pie, and a second impression. It is the only way to do justice to this many pies.

There were some incredible-looking pies — entries are judged on appearance and presentation as well as flavor and texture — in two categories, Apple Only and Apple And Other. Several had latticed or elaborately sculpted crusts, including the winner of Apple Only, Theresa Matthews of Gardner, Massachusetts.

Theresa Matthews' winning 2014 Great New England Apple Pie Contest pie is in the foreground. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Theresa Matthews’ winning 2014 Great New England Apple Pie Contest pie is in the foreground. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

The judges, in addition to me, were Bar Lois Weeks, executive director of the New England Apple Association, for the third year; local businessman Burt Gendron, a veteran pie taster; Julia Grimaldi, representing the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources; and radio personalities Chris Zito of WSRS and Ginny Sears of WTAG, both in Worcester.

We did not know the varieties used in any pie, although we were able to identify McIntosh flavor and texture in some, and make good guesses about Cortland, an 1898 cross of McIntosh with Ben David, similar in flavor to McIntosh but larger and firmer.

Most of the entries were good to very good, with several reaching exalted status. The few low-scoring pies suffered more from lackluster crusts than poor apple flavor.

One pie pairing pears with apples tasted mostly of apples — finding a balance that allows the milder pear flavor to come through can be tricky. But apples and pears is a proven combination, well worth the effort to get it right.

Green grapes and apples, on the other hand, may go well together fresh in a fruit salad, but made an undistinguished pie filling. While there are many flavorful ways to serve apples with bacon or peanut butter, the pies that combined them did justice to neither apple nor “other.”

Other ingredients in Apple and Other were caramel, cranberries, cream cheese, raisins, walnuts, and Jack Daniels. They all worked well with this versatile fruit.

Apples in a number of pies had been sliced by a mandolin slicer, and generally this did not improve the pie’s texture. The thin, uniform slices often stick together in a stack, which can lead to uneven cooking and consistency.

Theresa Matthews used only Cortland apples in her winning Apple Only pie. Both contest winners in 2012 also used just Cortland. Could this make Cortland the undisputed champ?

Chef Gerri Griswold, rear right, looks on as people sample her pies at White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Chef Gerri Griswold, rear right, looks on as people sample her pies at White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

FROM THERE we conducted another experiment, at the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, Connecticut. Chef Gerri Griswold baked a dozen pies for our October 25 apple talk and tasting event, two each using single varieties: Cortland; Empire, a 1945 offspring of McIntosh, crossed with Red Delicious, released in 1966; Gala (New Zealand, 1934, 1970), Honeycrisp (Minnesota, 1961, released in 1991), Macoun, a 1909 cross of McIntosh with Jersey Black in New York, released in 1923); and McIntosh.

Gerri scrupulously followed the Joy of Cooking apple pie recipe for all 12 of her creations, using the same prepared Pillsbury crust. We sampled each pie several times, as did the 20 or so people of all ages in attendance. A sheet of paper nearby for our scores and comments went mostly untouched, as most people were content to savor the experience.

There was plenty of excellent pie, but no clear-cut winner. Cortland had the most support in an informal poll, but the Empire, Macoun, and McIntosh pies all had champions. The McIntosh pie had surprisingly firm texture, soft but not mushy, and holding together.

Gerri had tried a similar experiment during our first appearance at White Memorial two years ago, baking four pies using single varieties. On that day, Mutsu, a large yellow apple discovered in Japan in 1930 (also known as Crispin), was the favorite pie apple.

The pies made with the sweet Gala and Honeycrisp apples did not fare as well as the others. For most of us, they were a little too sweet and their flavor lacked character. Gerri acknowledged that were it not for the taste test she would have reduced the sugar in the pies made with these varieties.

WE CONTINUED our study this past Sunday, November 2, during Franklin County CiderDays. Sue Chadwick, who grows a wide range of rare heirloom apples at her Second Chance Farm in Greenfield, Massachusetts, kindly donated a pie for our research, one of just three left from the 20 she baked to sell at the event the day before.

Sue uses a mix of apples in her pies, and the varieties could be different every time. Even if she could tell exactly what went into each pie, it would be hard for most people to find the apples to replicate it. The pie she gave us had rich apple flavor, as good or better than any made with a single variety.

Having made such little progress, we are going back to view Andrea Darrow’s three-part video series about apple pie-making, below. Andrea, of Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont, bakes hundreds of apple pies every fall, peeling every apple by hand. She uses several varieties, including Cortland and McIntosh, and piles them high.

Theresa Matthews with all that was left of her winning 2014 Great New England Apple Pie Contest pie after the judging. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Theresa Matthews with all that was left of her winning 2014 Great New England Apple Pie Contest pie after the judging. The Apple Rose Tarts on top were long gone. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

THERESA MATTHEWS has been working on her apple pies since she was a teenager. “My Mum was the reason behind that. She never measured for her pie crusts and I could never, ever get it right.”

Theresa’s preference for Cortland goes back at least a generation. “I’ve tried other apples, but I always go back to Cortland. I got that from my Mum as well.”

She did get it right. Here is the recipe for Theresa Matthews’ first-place pie.

Mum’s Apple Pie

Crust

3 c all purpose flour

1 t sea salt

1 T granulated sugar

1-½ sticks unsalted butter (cold)

⅓ c shortening (cold)

½ c ice cold water

one egg white

In a food processor bowl place flour, salt, sugar, butter, and shortening. Cover and pulse until blended about the size of peas. While running the processor, pour cold water in a steady stream until pastry ball forms. Divide into two balls, chilling for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out one crust on lightly floured parchment paper 1” larger than pie tin. Carefully transfer pastry to pie tin, and try not to stretch to avoid shrinking. Take egg white and brush onto entire bottom crust and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until filling is set.

Filling

6 thinly sliced Cortland apples

½ c unsalted butter

3 T all purpose flour

¼ c water

½ c granulated sugar

½ c packed light brown sugar

1½ t cinnamon

½ t nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a smooth paste. Add in water, sugars, and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature to a simmer. In a large mixing bowl place sliced apples. Pour sauce over apple slices and mix carefully to keep apple slices whole.

Carefully spoon coated apple slices into bottom crust, mounding slightly. Take care not to pour too much liquid to run out, reserving 2 T sauce. Brush bottom crust edge with egg whites and cover mounded apples with top crust, trim and press to seal. Cut slits for steam to release during cooking and brush glaze onto top of pie.

Cut pie dough scraps into the shapes of leaves and arrange them on the pie where the rose tarts will be placed. Brush glaze over leaves. Save remaining pie dough for Apple Rose Tarts (recipe below).

Place in preheated oven and lay a sheet of aluminum foil over pie to prevent burning. Bake 60-75 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool. Serve as is or with ice cream. Makes one 9” pie.

Apple Rose Tarts

Preheat oven to 350°.

Inspiration from diy-enthusiasts.com/food-fun/easy-apple-desserts-apple-roses/

2 Cortland apples sliced thinly

3 c water with 1 c sugar dissolved to make a simple syrup

1 T lemon juice (to help prevent browning)

Cinnamon sugar

Pie crust dough (left over from Mum’s Apple Pie, above)

Add apple slices to a pan of sweet syrup, making sure to cover all apples. Cook over medium-low heat until apples are pliable.

Roll out remaining pie dough in a rectangle about 8 to 10 inches wide and 10-12 inches long. Cut 8-10 one-inch wide strips along dough’s length.

Dry off 6 apple slices on a paper towel before arranging on a strip of pie dough. Lay out Overlap slices on strips so when rolled they will form the apple rose petals. Take care to leave about 1/2” of dough to seal the tart once rolled. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar before rolling up tart into a rose. (Photo references available on aforementioned website)

Place tarts on parchment paper about 2 inches apart and bake for 25 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Once tarts are cool, remove from parchment and using toothpicks insert into place on baked and cooled apple pie.

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'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven PowellAPPLES OF NEW ENGLAND (Countryman Press, 2014), a history of apple growing in New England, includes photographs and descriptions of more than 200 apple varieties discovered, grown, or sold in the region. Separate chapters feature the “fathers” of American wild apple, Massachusetts natives John Chapman (“Johnny Appleseed”) and Henry David Thorea; the contemporary orchard of the early 21st century; and rare apples, many of them photographed from the preservation orchard at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts.

Author Russell Steven Powell is senior writer for the nonprofit New England Apple Association after serving as its executive director from 1998 to 2011. Photographer Bar Lois Weeks is the Association’s current executive director.

Available in bookstores everywhere.

'America's Apple' coverAMERICA’S APPLE, (Brook Hollow Press, 2012) Powell’s and Weeks’s first book, provides an in-depth look at how apples are grown, eaten, and marketed in America, with chapter on horticulture, John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed), heirloom apples, apples as food, apple drinks, food safety insects and disease, labor, current trends, and apple futures, with nearly 50 photographs from orchards around the country.

The hardcover version lists for $45.95 and includes a photographic index of 120 apple varieties cultivated in the United States. America’s Apple is also available in paperback, minus the photograph index, for $19.95, and as an ebook.

Available at numerous bookstores and orchards, and Silver Street MediaAmazon.comBarnes and Noble, and other online sources. For quantity discounts, email newenglandapples@verizon.net.

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An atmospheric fire adds to the view at March Farm, Bethlehem, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

An atmospheric fire adds to the view at March Farm, Bethlehem, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

A RENEWED INTEREST IN APPLE CIDER, fresh and hard, is evident wherever it is sold. Visitors to the New England Apples booth in the Massachusetts Building at the Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”) bought more than 300 gallons of Carlson Orchards fresh cider in seven-ounce cups over 17 days in September — and fresh cider was sold at a dozen other places at the fair.

Beginning this Friday, October 31, cider aficionados from not just New England, but across the country and around the globe, will gather in western Massachusetts, to celebrate the 20th Annual Franklin County CiderDays. The event continues through Sunday, November 2, with a wide range of tastings, panels, orchard tours, and more at orchards across the county (click on the link above for a full schedule of events).

Next month comes Vermont Cider Week, actually a 10-day affair beginning Friday, November 14, through Sunday, November 23, with tastings at a number of venues.

Why this renewed interest in what was once America’s favorite drink?

Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, Massachusetts, will have several blends of fresh cider on hand during CiderDays. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, Massachusetts, will have several blends of fresh cider on hand during CiderDays. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

IT STARTS with the incomparable flavors produced by squeezing the juice out of apples. Even the most sour or bitter apple is transformed into something special when pressed into juice, and the blends made by expert cider makers add richness and body to the experience.

Slightly fizzy, lightly alcoholic hard cider, once consumed year-round by young and old alike, expands the range of flavors even further, from sweet to dry.

New England cider typically is made from locally grown fruit. Drinking it connects us to the land, and to our past. To press, ferment, and drink cider is to partake in a tradition that dates back to the 1620s, less than a decade after the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock.

For more than two centuries, nearly all New Englanders drank cider, and lots of it. Middlesex County, Massachusetts, to cite just one example, produced 33,436 barrels of cider in 1764, “or seven per family, well over a barrel for every man, woman, and child.”

Cider’s dominance ended in the mid-1800s, squeezed by temperance movements that targeted hard cider at the beginning and end of the 19th century. Rural New Englanders flocked to its cities during the Industrial Revolution, where immigrant populations, especially from Germany, demonstrated a talent for brewing beer, an inexpensive alternative to hard cider.

Passage of the Volstead Act in 1919 led to Prohibition, further reducing demand for hard cider, and the market never recovered even after Prohibition was lifted in 1933.

People still thirsted for fresh cider, though, and almost every orchard, large or small, pressed its own until 1996, when an isolated tragedy in the Pacific Northwest permanently changed the landscape for producers.

The incident involved Escherichia coli (E. coli) contamination traced to a single source, the Odwalla Juice Company in Washington state. One child died and more than 60 people became ill after drinking Odwalla fresh apple juice.

Odwalla immediately recalled all its products containing apple or carrot juice, and in 1998 pleaded guilty to 16 misdemeanor charges of selling adulterated food products, paying a $1.5 million fine. Odwalla made improvements to its production line in an effort to avoid future outbreaks, and began to flash pasteurize its juices.

Alyson's Orchard in Walpole, New Hampshire, one of the many small New England orchards that sell unpasteurized cider at the farm. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole, New Hampshire, one of the many small New England orchards that sell unpasteurized cider at the farm. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

AS ITS LONG AND ILLUSTRIOUS history suggests, New England cider has always been safe to drink. In all of my research for Apples of New England, I did not encounter a single report of illness traced to New England cider, and I am not aware of any in my lifetime — including nearly 20 years working with the New England apple industry. Yet the Odwalla incident resulted in new regulations for how apples and other crops are harvested and processed.

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) eventually required that all fresh cider be pasteurized, with the exception of small producers who sell at their orchard or farm stand (they must attach a warning label). Many small orchards chose not to invest in the expensive equipment needed to pasteurize and simply stopped pressing cider.

Common sense, tradition, and its irresistible flavor appear to be overcoming this latest taint on cider, judging by the demand for fresh ciders like Carlson’s, the popularity of festivals like CiderDays, and the proliferation of artisanal hard ciders and commercial brands like Angry Orchard, Harpoon, and Woodchuck.

It is not just fresh and hard cider, either, that appeals to the apple-loving palate. A new generation of vintners is coming up with distinctive dry and semi-dry apple wines in addition to the traditional sweet dessert ones, and niche products like ice cider are capturing the apple’s essence and showing its remarkable versatility in new and exciting ways.

Here are a few things to know about cider as you prepare to visit CiderDays, an orchard, or grocery store, or as you simply sit back to sip your favorite apple drink:

The term “apple juice” applies to the clear, amber liquid sold in bottles in grocery stores.

“Fresh cider” is the name for the brown, unfiltered apple drink sold at farm stands, farmers’ markets, and orchards, and in the refrigerated sections of grocery stores, usually in the produce aisles.

“Hard cider” is the alcoholic drink fermented from fresh cider, roughly as strong as beer.

Bottled apple juice is fresh cider that has been heated above 175°F for 15 minutes to 30 minutes, then filtered to a clear liquid. Commercial apple juice is also made from concentrate and water. With the help of stabilizers and preservatives, bottled apple juice stores indefinitely.

Fresh cider, the sweet, thick drink found at most orchards, contains nothing but apples. If sugar or any other ingredients have been added, it is not the same drink.

Unpasteurized fresh cider will keep approximately 10 days to two weeks, several weeks if pasteurized, and up to several months with preservatives like potassium sorbate, added by some of the largest producers and grocery stores. Fresh cider may be frozen for up to six months.

Any apple can be used in fresh or hard cider, even an unnamed chance seedling, and each variety contributes distinct sweet, acid, or astringent properties. All-purpose heirlooms like Ashmead’s Kernel, Golden Russet, and Roxbury Russet are particularly prized for cider, while varieties like Dabinett, Harry Masters Jersey, Tremlett’s Bitter, and Yarlington Mill are cultivated exclusively for fresh and hard cider.

Large-scale makers of fresh cider necessarily rely on varieties planted in sufficient quantities to meet their high demand, which rules out most heirlooms. Varieties like Cortland, Gala, McIntosh, Idared, PaulaRed, and other New England staples are used according to season. An early season batch may differ slightly in taste from one made later in the year.

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'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven PowellAUTHOR RUSSELL STEVEN POWELL, senior writer for the New England Apple Association, and Executive Director Bar Lois Weeks will discuss apples, answer questions, and sign their new book, Apples of New England, at at three western Massachusetts orchards during CiderDays weekend.

As part of CiderDays, Powell and Weeks will appear at Pine Hill Orchards, 248 Greenfield Rd., Colrain, Saturday, November 1, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, and at Clarkdale Fruit Farms, 303 Upper Rd., Deerfield, Sunday, November 2, also from 10 a.m. to noon.

Powell and Weeks will also appear at Atkins Farm, 1150 West St., Amherst, Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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TO LEARN MORE about how commercial fresh cider is made, view this short video:

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Golden Delicious, a late-season West Virginia apple shown here at Lanni Orchards in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, is nearly ready for picking in New England orchards. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Golden Delicious, a late-season West Virginia apple shown here at Lanni Orchards in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, is nearly ready for picking in New England orchards. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

THE AMAZING APPLE has traveled back and forth across America since its arrival in New England in 1623, and nearly half of the United States have produced apples currently cultivated in New England. In addition to natives of the six New England states, previous posts in this series have highlighted varieties from apple-breeding programs in Minnesota, New York, and a consortium of the University of Illinois, Purdue University in Indiana, and Rutgers University in New Jersey (PRI).

While not exhaustive, this list (and the links above) represents the vast majority of apples grown in New England orchards that were discovered in other states. To find out more about where these apples are grown, visit New England Apples and choose “Find An Apple Orchard” to search by map, state, zip code, or variety.

ARKANSAS 

Arkansas Black apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Arkansas Black apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Arkansas Black (Arkansas Black Twig) is a round, deep red, conical apple with heavy skin and dense, cream-colored flesh. It has a spicy flavor, more tart than sweet. A late-season apple, Arkansas Black is widely used for processing and cider making. It stores exceptionally well, and its skin naturally darkens in storage.

There are conflicting reports about Arkansas Black’s origins, but both stories trace the apple to Arkansas’ northwest corner around 1842. One account attributes it to Mr. Brattwait of Benton County, while another claims it was discovered on the farm of John Crawford in Washington County. Introduced around 1870, it is the result of a cross between a Winesap and an unknown apple.

KENTUCKY, TENNESSEE, or VIRGINIA

Ben Davis apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ben Davis apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ben Davis is a late-season apple, roundish, mostly red or red-striped over a rather tough, yellow skin. Its tender, cream-colored flesh is aromatic and juicy, and it has mild flavor, more sweet than tart. It stores exceptionally well.

Ben Davis dates back to the early 1800s. Its discovery is credited to three southern states, none definitively, but it had spread throughout these states and other parts of the South and Midwest well before the Civil War. It is not widely grown in the Northeast, but it is a parent of one of New England’s most popular apples, Cortland.

IDAHO

Idared apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Idared apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Idared is a large, round, late-season apple with a chewy, ruby-red skin. Its crisp flesh is white with a green tinge. Idared’s flavor is more tart than sweet when first picked, but it develops sweetness and complexity and becomes juicier over time. After a month or more in cold storage, it becomes a superb apple for sauce, pies (it holds its shape when cooked), and cider.

Idared, a cross of Jonathan with Wagener, was discovered in 1935 by Leif Verner, head of the Department of Horticulture at the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station in Moscow, and released commercially in 1942.

ILLINOIS

Blushing Golden apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Blushing Golden apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Blushing Golden (Stark’s Blushing Golden, Goldblush) is a yellow, conical, late-season apple with a pink-orange blush and tough, waxy skin. It has cream-colored flesh and a rich flavor, more sweet than tart, that develops in storage. It is good for cooking, especially in pies, and it stores well.

The original tree, a cross of Golden Delicious and Jonathan, came from the farm of Ralph B. Griffith of Cobden in the 1960s.

INDIANA

Goldrush apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Goldrush apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

GoldRush is a late-season apple, medium-large, round to conical, golden yellow with an orange-red blush. It is crisp and juicy, with a complex, spicy, sweet-tart flavor that mellows over time. It is an all-purpose apple especially good fresh, in cider, and in salads, as it is slow to brown. It stores exceptionally well, and its trees are disease resistant.

GoldRush was developed in 1973 in West Lafayette, Indiana, by PRI, the joint apple-breeding program of Purdue University, Rutgers University, and the University of Illinois. Its parentage includes Golden Delicious, Melrose, Rome Beauty, Siberian Crab, and Winesap.

Released commercially in 1993, GoldRush was named Illinois’s official state fruit in 2008.

Winter Banana apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Winter Banana apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Winter Banana is a large, round or boxy late-season apple with pale yellow skin and a light red blush. Its white flesh is crispy, aromatic, and moderately juicy, and it is considered better for fresh eating than cooking due to its mild, sweet flavor. It is also good in cider. It bruises easily, but stores reasonably well.

Despite its name, most people do not detect any banana flavor; the apple’s name likely comes from its color.

Winter Banana was discovered on the farm of David Flory in Adamsboro, Cass County, Indiana, in 1876, and released in 1890. Its parentage is unknown. While still grown in parts of the Midwest, its main use in New England is to pollinate other varieties.

IOWA

Red Delicious apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Red Delicious apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Red Delicious (Hawkeye), a late-season apple, is one of the most widely recognized apples in the world. Although its popularity has peaked, Red Delicious remains the most widely grown apple in the United States, and it is the most commercially successful apple of all time. It is known for its striking red color and distinctive, conical shape, and it ships and stores well. The trees are easy to grow and highly productive.

Sweet, lightly aromatic with crisp, cream-colored flesh, Red Delicious is an all-purpose apple.

Its predictably sweet flavor often lacks character, though, becoming cloying or bland. Newer sweet apples like Gala, with its distinctive pear-like flavor, and other varieties that offer a broader range of flavors and textures have begun to erode Red Delicious’s dominance in the marketplace.

Discovered on the farm of Jesse Hiatt in Peru, Iowa, in the 1870s, the apple was known as Hawkeye until 1893. It won an apple competition that year sponsored by Stark Brothers Nurseries. After biting into one, C. M. Stark is alleged to have said, “My that’s delicious — and that’s the name for it!” Hawkeye was reissued as Red Delicious two years later, in 1895.

KANSAS

Stayman apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Stayman apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Stayman (Stayman Winesap) is a striped, cherry red, late-season apple with prominent lenticels and some russeting. It has tender, juicy, cream-colored flesh. Its balanced flavor is slightly more sweet than tart, with hints of honey, and it is highly aromatic. It resembles its Winesap parent (its other parent is unknown), but tends to grow larger, and its color is not as deep. It is an all-purpose apple that stores well.

Stayman was discovered by Dr. Joseph Stayman in 1866 in Leavenworth, Kansas, and it was released in 1875. As it requires a long growing season, it is mostly a Southern apple, and it is not widely grown in New England.

MICHIGAN 

Opalescent apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Opalescent apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Opalescent (Hudson’s Pride of Michigan) is a large, mid-season apple with red overlaid on a yellow skin, with prominent white lenticels. Its coarse, yellow flesh is moderately juicy, and its mild flavor is more sweet than tart. It resembles Twenty Ounce, an heirloom from the 1840s, in size and looks, but its flavor is not considered as good, and it does not store well.

Once widely grown in New England, Opalescent was discovered by George Hudson in Barry County, Michigan, a cross of Golden Delicious with Newtown Pippin. Originally called Hudson’s Pride of Michigan, it was renamed when it was commercially released in 1880. Some sources trace its release to Xenia, Ohio, in 1899.

PaulaRed apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

PaulaRed apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

PaulaRed is an early season apple, red with occasional light yellow or green striping and prominent white lenticels. PaulaRed’s tender white flesh is more tart than sweet, with a hint of strawberry. It is good for both cooking and fresh eating, and it is slow to brown, making it good in salads. It is also good in cider. Ripening in mid- to late August, it is one of the first apples of the New England season, but it is not available for long and it should be used soon after picking, as it does not store well.

PaulaRed was discovered by grower Lewis Arends in Sparta Township, Michigan, in 1960, from a chance seedling near a block of McIntosh trees, and named after his wife, Pauline. Its sweet-tart flavor and color suggest PaulaRed may have McIntosh in its parentage. It was released commercially in 1968.

NEW JERSEY

Maiden's Blush apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Maiden’s Blush apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Maiden’s Blush (Lady Blush, Maiden Blush, Red Cheek, Vestal) is a medium-to-large, mid-season apple with a red blush and light striping over greenish-yellow skin. Its white flesh is crisp and juicy. More tart than sweet, with notes of citrus when first harvested, its flavor mellows over time and in storage. It is best used for cooking, drying, and in cider and wine making.

Maiden’s Blush was introduced by Samuel Allinson of Burlington, New Jersey, in the late 1700s, of unknown parents. Once widely grown in America, it was especially popular in Philadelphia in the early 1800s.

Winesap apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Winesap apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Winesap is a small, round, late-season apple, cherry red in color with a chewy skin. It has crisp, light yellow flesh, and is moderately juicy. It has outstanding flavor, more sweet than tart, with hints of cherry. It is an all-purpose apple, especially good for fresh eating and in cider. It stores exceptionally well.

While some have suggested that it has a wine-like flavor, Winesap more likely was named for its deep red color.

Winesap requires a long growing season, so it is mostly cultivated it in the South. It was widely grown in the South in the 1800s, especially in Virginia, and it remained popular until about 1950. Its decline resulted from its generally small size and the rise of controlled atmosphere (CA) storage, which made Winesap’s excellent storage qualities less important.

Its age and origin are unknown, but Winesap was first recorded by Dr. James Mease of Moore’s Town, New Jersey in 1804, and it is generally thought to have originated in New Jersey sometime before 1800.

Yellow Bellflower apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Yellow Bellflower apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Yellow Bellflower (Lady Washington, Lincoln Pippin) is a mid-season apple, medium to large in size, conical in shape, with lemon-yellow skin and a peach-colored blush. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp, juicy, and aromatic, and its flavor, more tart than sweet when picked, mellows in storage. It is best in cider and for cooking, especially in pies. It bruises easily and does not store well.

One of the oldest heirloom apples from New Jersey, it was discovered in Crosswicks in the late 1700s, of unknown parents. It was not much grown in New England until after 1850. Its name may come from the fact that it hangs like a bell from the tree.

OHIO

Blondee apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Blondee apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Blondee is a round, medium to large, mid-season apple with smooth, yellow skin and an occasional red blush. Its crisp flesh is moderately juicy, more sweet than tart, and a little spicy. It is good for fresh eating and in salads, as it browns slowly when sliced. It stores well.

It was discovered on the farm of Tom and Bob McLaughlin in Portsmouth, Ohio, overlooking the Ohio River, in 1998. A sport, or mutant branch, from a tree with complex parentage including Kidd’s Orange Red and Gala, Blondee is now a trademarked variety.

Holly apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Holly apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Holly is a large, conical or boxy late-season apple, with rich, pink-red color over a yellow skin. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy. Mostly sweet like its Red Delicious parent, it has a little tartness from its other parent, Jonathan. It is an all-purpose apple and a good keeper.

Holly was developed by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in 1952, and released in 1970.

Melrose apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Melrose apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Melrose is another Red Delicious-Jonathan cross, with markedly different results. It is a large, round, mid-season apple, yellow-green overlaid in red, with occasional russeting. Its coarse, crisp, white flesh is juicy, and its flavor, tart with a some sweetness when first picked, mellows over time. It is good for cooking, as it keeps its shape.

The official state apple of Ohio, Melrose was discovered by Freeman S. Howlett at the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station in Wooster in 1944. It is not to be confused with another apple of the same name (also known as White Melrose), a yellow apple attributed to the monks of Melrose Abbey, Scotland, around 1830.

Rome Beauty apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Rome Beauty apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Rome Beauty (Rome) is a medium-to-large, round late-season apple known for its deep red color and excellent storage qualities. Its green-white flesh is crisp and juicy, with flavor that is more tart than sweet, and it has a thick skin. Rome Beauty is good eaten fresh but is used mostly as a cider apple and for baking, as it holds its shape well.

A tree planted in 1816 by H. N. Gillet in Rome, Ohio, on the banks of the Ohio River produced a shoot from below the graft — the part of the tree that is not supposed to bear fruit. Growers generally trim these unwanted shoots off, but this branch survived to bear beautiful red fruit. It was introduced commercially in 1848.

While its popularity has waned in New England in recent years, only one other apple on America’s top ten list, McIntosh, discovered in 1801, is older than Rome Beauty.

OREGON

Hidden Rose apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Hidden Rose apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Hidden Rose (Airlie Redflesh, Red Flesh, Schwartz) is a small, conical, late-season apple with light yellow-green skin and a pink blush. This sweetly aromatic apple has a pleasing tartness with hints of citrus, but it is not very juicy. Its dense, pink flesh is slow to brown, making Hidden Rose a good choice in salads. Due to its small size, it is mainly good for fresh eating, but it is used some in cooking, especially to color applesauce.

In just half a century, Hidden Rose has already had several identities. It was discovered as a chance seedling in the 1960s on land owned by Lucky and Audrey Newell near Airlie, Oregon. Although they sent samples to Oregon State University, the variety remained unknown even after the Newells sold the property.

In the 1980s, Louis Kimzey, the retired manager of a neighboring farm, rediscovered the tree, and gave it the name Airlie’s Redflesh (eventually shortened to Red Flesh). In the 1990s, several nurseries grew the apple locally under the name Schwartz.

Kimzey and his former employer, Thomas Paine Farms, finally decided to commercialize the apple, and in 2001 they trademarked the name Hidden Rose.

Hudson's Golden Gem apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Hudson’s Golden Gem apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Hudson’s Golden Gem is a medium-sized, conical, late-season apple with light russeting over a green-gold skin. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy, and its outstanding sweet flavor has hints of nut and pear. An all-purpose apple, it is especially good eaten fresh and in cider. It stores well.

Hudson’s Golden Gem was discovered in 1931 as a chance seedling along a fence at the Hudson Nursery in Tangent, Oregon. With its elongated form, bronze russeting, and evocative flavor, it was originally marketed as a pear.

PENNSYLVANIA

Smokehouse apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Smokehouse apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Smokehouse (English Vandevere, Red Vandevere) is a late-season apple, medium to large, round, mostly red with yellow highlights. Its cream-colored flesh is moderately crisp and juicy. Its flavor, sweet with some tartness, is on the mild side, often lacking distinction. It is primarily a fresh eating apple.

It dates back to 1848, discovered on the farm of William Gibbons in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, who named it for its proximity to his smokehouse. Smokehouse closely resembles Vandevere, a Maryland variety from 1806 presumed to be one of Smokehouse’s parents (the other parent is unknown).

York apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

York apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

York (York Imperial) is a medium-to-large, often lopsided apple with red streaks covering a green skin. Ripening in mid-season, it has crisp, yellow flesh, and is moderately juicy. Its flavor, more tart than sweet when picked, becomes milder and sweeter in storage. It is good for both fresh eating and cooking, but it is mostly a processing apple due to its yellow flesh, which adds color to sauce and pies, and its small core. It is an excellent keeper.

Discovered in York, Pennsylvania, in the early 1800s of unknown parentage, York is not widely grown in New England, but it is popular in Virginia and its state of origin.

VIRGINIA

Ginger Gold apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ginger Gold apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ginger Gold is a medium to large, round to conical, early season apple with smooth, green-yellow skin and an occasional pink blush. Its crisp, juicy, white flesh is more sweet than tart. Ginger Gold is a good all-purpose apple, especially good in salads, as its flesh browns slowly when sliced. Ripening in late August, it has become an outstanding early season variety in New England, although its season is short.

Ginger Gold was discovered in the orchard of Clyde and Ginger Harvey in 1969 in Lovington, Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Clyde Harvey wanted to name the apple “Harveylicious,” but cooler heads prevailed, and he chose his wife’s name instead. Ginger Gold’s parentage is uncertain, but it may include both Golden Delicious and Albemarle Pippin.

WASHINGTON

Cameo apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Cameo apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Cameo (Carousel) is a slightly conical, late-season apple with a thin, light-yellow skin with heavy red striping. Its flesh is crisp and juicy, and it has outstanding flavor, nicely balanced between sweet and tart.

A chance seedling found by Darrel Caudle near Dryden, Washington, in 1987, Cameo may be a cross between Red Delicious and Golden Delicious. It was released commercially in 1998.

WEST VIRGINIA

Golden Delicious apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Golden Delicious apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Golden Delicious (Mullins Yellow Seedling) is a medium-to-large, conical, late-season apple, golden yellow with an occasional pink blush and russeting around the stem. Its yellow flesh is crisp, aromatic, and juicy, and it has rich, mellow, sweet flavor, with hints of honey. It is an outstanding apple for fresh eating, and good in cooking, especially in pies, as its flesh holds up well when cooked. It has excellent storage qualities.

West Virginia’s official state fruit, Golden Delicious is one of the most widely planted apples in the world, and parent to a number of other varieties. But although it shares its conical shape and many flavor characteristics with Red Delicious, the two apples are unrelated.

Discovered by Anderson H. Mullins near the town of Odessa, Clay County, West Virginia, in 1890, and originally called Mullins Yellow Seedling, Golden Delicious was renamed by Stark Brothers Nursery when it was introduced commercially 1916 in an effort to replicate Red Delicious’ success. It may be a seedling of Grimes Golden.

Golden Supreme apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Golden Supreme apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Golden Supreme is a medium to large, early season apple, conical, yellow with prominent brown lenticels and a pink-orange blush. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy, and it has a pleasant but mild flavor that is more sweet than tart. It is an all-purpose apple especially good for fresh eating, in cider, and in salads, as its flesh browns slowly. It stores well.

Its age and origin are unclear; while generally credited to Clay County, West Virginia, some accounts say that Golden Supreme originated in Idaho.

Grimes Golden apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Grimes Golden apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Grimes Golden (Grimes, Grimes Golden Pippin) is a medium round, mid-season apple, gold to deep yellow in color. Its yellow flesh is crisp, aromatic, and moderately juicy, and its flavor is nicely balanced, spicy, a little more tart than sweet. It is good for fresh eating and in cider.

Grimes Golden dates back to the early 1800s, of unknown origin. It may be parent to a more famous apple also from West Virginia, Golden Delicious. Some accounts erroneously claim that Grimes Golden grew from seeds left by John Chapman (“Johnny Appleseed”), but Chapman planted orchards in only two states, Indiana and Ohio.

Nevertheless, Grimes Golden is highly regarded in its native state. Wood from the trunk of the original tree (which blew down in a storm in 1905 after bearing fruit for more than a century) was used to make gavels for the West Virginia Agricultural Society. A portion of the trunk is preserved at West Virginia University, and a stone monument marks the site of the original Grimes Golden tree.

WISCONSIN

Wolf River apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Wolf River apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Wolf River is a large, bulky mid-season apple, often exceeding one pound. Its pale yellow skin is covered in red. Its coarse flesh is juicy, with mild flavor balanced between sweet and tart. It is best used in cooking and in cider. It does not store well. Its main distinction besides its size and lopsided appearance is that its trees are hardy and disease resistant.

Wolf River was discovered on the farm of W. A. Springer Fremont, Wisconsin, in 1875 along the river that gave it its name. It closely resembles and is probably a seedling of the Russian apple, Alexander.

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'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven PowellNEW ENGLAND APPLE ASSOCIATION Executive Director Bar Lois Weeks and Senior Writer Russell Steven Powell will both be judges at the 6th Annual Great New England Apple Pie Contest at Wachusett Mountain’s 31st Annual AppleFest this Saturday, October 18.

Judging will begin at 11 a.m.

For information about how to enter, visit Great New England Apple Pie Contest.

Powell will have copies of his new book, Apples of New England, and his first one, America’s Apple, available for sale and signing. Weeks took the photographs for both volumes, with more than 200 apple varieties discovered, grown, or sold in New England illustrating Powell’s text in Apples of New England.

AppleFest will continue on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

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Fuji apples, Tougas Family Farm, Northborough, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Fuji apples, Tougas Family Farm, Northborough, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

THE LIST of apples developed in Japan that have thrived in New England is short and sweet yet spans the growing season. The five apples profiled here are relatively new, none older than 1930.

Fuji apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Fuji apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Fuji has become one of the best-known apples in the world since its commercial release a half-century ago. It is a medium to large, yellow-green apple covered with a heavy pink blush. A late-season apple with dense, juicy white flesh, its sweet flavor owes primarily to its Red Delicious parent.

Fuji’s other parent, the Virginia heirloom Ralls Janet, is a good eating apple known for its late bloom, making Fuji less susceptible to frost damage than many varieties. Fuji stores exceptionally well, maintaining its quality for several weeks left in a fruit bowl or for up to one year refrigerated.

Fuji was developed in Japan in 1939, and was named in 1962, after Japan’s tallest and most sacred mountain.

Mutsu apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Mutsu apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Mutsu, or Crispin, is a large, slightly conical apple ranging in color from green to yellow, often with an orange blush. Its crisp, pale yellow flesh is aromatic, sweeter than tart, and juicy. It is more tart than either its Golden Delicious or Indo parents.

Mutsu is an all-purpose apple, especially good in salads as its flesh browns slowly. It is a good pie apple due to its flavor and size, and because it holds it shape when cooked. It stores extremely well.

Originally named for a province in Japan, Mutsu was discovered in 1930 and released in 1948. It was renamed Crispin in England in 1968, but more often is sold as Mutsu in New England.

Shizuka apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Shizuka apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Shizuka is a large, round or conical, green-yellow apple with a red-orange blush. A late-season apple, Shizuka has the same parentage as Mutsu: Golden Delicious crossed with Indo, a sweet Japanese apple from the 1930s. But Shizuka’s flavor and texture are very different. Shizuka has distinctive light crisp flesh similar to Honeycrisp and Jonagold, and it is sweeter than Mutsu.

It is excellent eaten fresh or in a salad, as it is slow to brown when cut. It stores well.

Shizuka was developed by Tsuneo Murakami in Aomori prefecture in 1969, and released commercially in 1986. Like Jonagold and Karmijn de Sonnaville, Shizuka’s popularity has lagged behind its virtues in the United States, in part, perhaps, as a result of its unremarkable name.

Akane apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Akane apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

In contrast to these late-season apples are two early season varieties, Akane and Sansa.

Akane (ah ‘kah neh) is known as Tokyo Rose and Prime Red in its native Japan, and Primrouge in France for its striking red color. It has sweet-tart flavor with hints of strawberry, crisp white flesh, and lots of juice. One of the best early season apples, it is good for baking as well as for fresh eating, as it holds its shape well.

Akane is the result of a cross between the English heirloom Worcester Pearmain, known for its strawberry flavor, and Jonathan, an American heirloom with outstanding flavor and distinctive red color. Akane was discovered in 1937 and released in 1970.

Sansa apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Sansa apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Sansa is medium sized, round, and typically red in color (it can also appear with a deep pink blush on a yellow skin). It is sweet and juicy, with crisp, light-green flesh. Considered best for fresh eating, it is one of the better early season apples.

Sansa is the result of a collaboration between researchers in Japan and New Zealand. The apple’s parents are Japan’s Akane and New Zealand’s Gala, which gives Sansa its characteristic sweetness.

In 1969, Japanese apple breeder Dr. Yoshio Yoshida sent pollen harvested from Akane blossoms to Dr. Donald McKenzie in New Zealand, to cross-pollinate with Gala. Gala was not grown in Japan at the time, and Akane was not available in New Zealand.

McKenzie returned seeds from this cross to Yoshida, and the resulting trees were evaluated for nearly 20 years before the variety’s 1988 release. McKenzie did not live to see the result of their joint effort, though, as he was killed in a car accident that same year.

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'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven PowellRUSSELL STEVEN POWELL will discuss apples and read from his new book, Apples of New England (Countryman Press), at several sites during and after the Columbus Day Weekend.

Photographer Bar Lois Weeks will make a joint appearance with Powell at Boothby’s Orchard and Farm Monday, October 13:

Saturday, October 11, 2 p.m.

Historic Deerfield

80 Old Main St., Deerfield, Massachusetts

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Monday, October 13, 11 a.m.

Boothby’s Orchard and Farm

366 Boothby Rd., Livermore, Maine

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Tuesday, October 14, 7:30 p.m.

Williamsburg Historical Society

4 North Main St., Williamsburg, Massachusetts

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There is plenty of good picking at New England orchards like Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

There is plenty of good picking at New England orchards like Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

EUROPEAN COUNTRIES have produced only a few new apples in recent years. But several venerable heirlooms still grown in New England originated in France, Germany, and The Netherlands. Many of the apples are so old and the records so incomplete that their country of origin cannot be completely certain.

AMONG THE BEST New England apples generally credited to France are three of the oldest named varieties: Ananas Reinette, Calville Blanc d’Hiver, and Lady.

Ananas Reinette apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ananas Reinette apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ananas Reinette (ô-nô-ńas rĭ-ńĕt) is a small, late-season apple, round or slightly oblate, with rich yellow color over green skin, and prominent green or brown lenticels (the dots on an apple’s skin through which it “breathes”). Ananas Reinette has crisp, juicy, white flesh, and a balanced, sweet-tart flavor with hints of pineapple (“ananas” is French for pineapple). Its distinctive flavor intensifies in storage.

Although it was first cited in 1821 in Germany, it may have originated in The Netherlands or France in the 1500s. It received scant mention in American reference works before 1950.

Calville Blanc d'Hiver apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Calville Blanc d’Hiver apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Calville Blanc d’Hiver (kal-vəl bläŋk dē-ver), or simply White Calville, is another late-season apple with yellow-green skin. It is medium to large, with a distinctive ribbed shape and an occasional pink blush. Its aromatic, cream-colored flesh is spicy, more tart than sweet, and its flavor intensifies in storage. It is high in Vitamin C. One of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apples, it is mostly used in cooking and in cider, and it stores well.

Its age and origin are unknown, but it was first recorded in 1598 France (some accounts attribute it to Germany).

Lady apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Lady apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Another late season apple, Lady, also known as Api or Christmas Apple, is small in size but intense in flavor. Its red-and-green color varies according to the amount of sunlight it gets; the green areas can lighten to yellow. Its bright white flesh is crisp, juicy, and tart, with hints of citrus.

Lady is best in salads, eaten fresh, and pickled, sweet or sour, and sometimes served with a hot sauce. Due to its small size, festive coloring, and ability to withstand a freeze, Lady is often featured in Christmas wreaths.

Lady has been cultivated in France at least since the reign of Louis XIII in the 1600s. But it may be even older, dating back to ancient Rome. It was one of the first European apples to be brought to America.

Calville Blanc d’Hiver and Lady apples appear to be the subjects of Claude Monet’s oil painting, “Still Life with Apples and Grapes” from 1880.

Orleans Reinette apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Orleans Reinette apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Orleans Reinette (ôr- lēnz rĭ-ńĕt), or Winter Ribston, is also a late-season French apple. Medium to large, round and oblate, it is strikingly beautiful, with random patches of russet and bronze blush on a rosy red skin. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy, and its complex flavor is more sweet than tart, with hints of nuts and orange. The late food writer Edward Bunyan called Orleans Reinette “the best tasting apple in the world.”

First cited in 1776, it is one of several varieties with “reinette” in its name, a French term for russeting. Most reinette apples are very old, dating back to at least the 1700s.

GERMANY’S CONTRIBUTIONS to New England are similarly old, with one exception: Corail.

Corail apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Corail apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Corail is a late-season apple with a conical shape and streaks of bright red over a yellow-orange skin. Its white flesh is crisp and juicy, and it resists browning when sliced. Corail’s flavor is more tart than sweet, with hints of pineapple or citrus.

Corail was developed in 2000 from Golden Delicious, Cox’s Orange Pippin, and Duchess of Oldenburg parents. It is now marketed under the trademarked name Piñata, and Stemilt Growers of Wenatchee, Washington, holds exclusive rights to grow, market, and sell it in the United States. Some New England growers had already purchased Corail, though, and they are allowed to continue to grow and sell the apple using that name. It is also known as Pinova or Sonata.

Gravenstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gravenstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gravenstein is an early season apple, medium-sized, slightly blunt and conical, with blurry red streaks on a thin green skin. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy, with flavor that is more tart than sweet. It is especially good in pies, sauce, and cider, and it stores better than most early varieties.

Dating back to at least the 1600s, Gravenstein was popular in New England from the late 1800s until the 1930s. It migrated across Europe, probably originating in Germany, although it may have been discovered in Italy. It first appeared in Denmark about 1669 and England in 1819.

Gravenstein, German for the southern Denmark town of Gråsten, is strongly identified with Denmark — it was declared Denmark’s national apple in 2005. It may be one of several European apples imported to the United States by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in the 1800s.

Red Gravenstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Red Gravenstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Red Gravenstein is an early season sport variety (resulting from a mutating branch) of Gravenstein. Medium-sized, slightly blunt and conical, it is redder and sweeter than its parent. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy, with a nicely balanced, sweet-tart flavor.

Red Gravenstein was first cited in 1873.

Holstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Holstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Holstein is a medium, round, mid-season apple, yellow in color with red streaks. Its cream-colored flesh is coarse-textured, moderately crisp, and juicy. Its flavor is balanced between sweet and tart, and it stores well.

Holstein was discovered by a teacher named Vahldik in Eutin, Holstein, in 1918. Its parentage includes Cox’s Orange Pippin.

Zabergäu Reinette apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Zabergäu Reinette apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Zabergäu Reinette (źab-ər-gau̇ rĭ-ńĕt) is a medium to large, mid-season apple, with light, copper-colored russeting over yellow skin. Its crisp, cream-colored flesh is moderately juicy, and its spicy, nutty flavor, more sweet than tart, intensifies in storage. It is good for fresh eating and in cooking, and it keeps well.

Zabergäu Reinette was first grown in 1885 in Württemberg, on the Zaber River in southwestern Germany, but was not widely distributed until 1926.

THE NETHERLANDS has produced three apples of note that can be found in New England orchards.

Elstar apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Elstar apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Elstar is a medium to large, late-season apple, yellow with red streaking. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp, and its flavor, more tart than sweet, has been compared to Jonagold. It is a good fresh eating and cooking apple. Its flavor mellows some in storage.

A cross between Golden Delicious and Ingrid Marie, a variety from Denmark dating back to 1910, Elstar was first grown in the Netherlands in the 1950s and released commercially in 1972. While it prefers a cooler climate, it is not yet widely grown in New England.

Karmijn de Sonnaville apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Karmijn de Sonnaville apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Karmijn de Sonnaville is a medium-sized, mid-season apple with complex coloring, with shades of red, orange, yellow, and green. Its crisp, juicy flesh has a rich, spicy flavor balanced between tart and sweet. It is outstanding for fresh eating and excellent in cider.

It was raised by Piet de Sonnaville in 1949 on his family orchard in central Netherlands from Cox’s Orange Pippin and Jonathan or Belle de Boskoop parents, and introduced in 1971. Like Jonagold, Karmijn de Sonnaville’s exceptional flavor and beauty have not resulted in commercial success in the United States, as it is challenging to grow and difficult to name.

Belle de Boskoop apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Belle de Boskoop apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Belle de Boskoop is a medium to large, late-season apple with a round, boxy shape. It has russeting around its stem and in a netting pattern over much of its distinctive orange-red skin. Its crisp, light-green flesh is aromatic, moderately juicy, and more tart than sweet, with hints of lemon. Its flavor becomes sweeter in storage, and it keeps well.

Belle de Boskoop was discovered by K. J. W. Ottolander in 1856 in his nursery in Boskoop, near Gouda. It was introduced in North America in Canada around 1880.

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'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven PowellRUSSELL STEVEN POWELL will read from and sign his new book, Apples of New England (Countryman Press) at two central Massachusetts locations this weekend, including the Tower Hill Botanic Garden, which maintains one of the largest preservation orchards in New England, with 119 pre-1900 varieties.

A number of extremely rare apples from Tower Hill are described in Apples of New England and photographed by Bar Lois Weeks.

Saturday, October 4, 1 p.m.

Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary

Wales Rd., Monson, Massachusetts

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Sunday, October 5, 12:30 p.m.

Tower Hill Botanic Garden

11 French Dr., Boylston, Massachusetts

 

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The western view toward Mount Kearsarge from Gould Hill Orchards, Contoocook, New Hampshire (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

The western view toward Mount Kearsarge from Gould Hill Orchards, Contoocook, New Hampshire (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

A bin of Cox's Orange Pippins is a beautiful sight. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

A bin of Cox’s Orange Pippins, from ‘Apples of New England.’ (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

IT HAS NOT PRODUCED a new apple for a century. Its apples are typically small — in one instance, no bigger than a golf ball.

Some are covered with russet, and one is famously misshapen. Several are notoriously difficult to grow. None of its varieties is grown in commercial quantities in New England.

Yet England’s apples have some of the best flavor of any fruit — not to mention some of the most colorful and evocative names. While you may have to hunt for some of them, all of these English apples made their way across the Atlantic long ago, and can still be found growing in New England orchards.

Bramley's Seedling apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Bramley’s Seedling apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Bramley’s Seedling is a late-season apple, round but flat, green with red streaks or patches and prominent lenticels. Its cream-colored flesh is coarse and moderately juicy. It is aromatic, and it has a nicely balanced sweet-tart flavor with hints of citrus. Bramley’s is excellent in cider, and it is England’s most popular cooking apple. Similar to apples such as Cortland, its skin can become naturally greasy in storage, and it keeps well.

Bramley’s Seedling was raised from seed in the cottage garden of Mary Ann Brailsford in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, between 1809 and 1813. Matthew Bramley brought the property in 1848, and the apple bearing his name was introduced commercially in 1876.

Cox's Orange Pippin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Cox’s Orange Pippin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Cox’s Orange Pippin is as beautiful to behold as it is to eat. A mid-season apple, it is medium sized, round, and orange-red with red striping over a yellow skin. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy. Its flavor, more tart than sweet, is spicy, aromatic, and complex. It excels in cider as well as fresh eating.

The website orangepippin.com raves about Orange Cox’s Pippin as “a variety for the connoisseur, who can delight in the appreciation of the remarkable range of subtle flavors — pear, melon, freshly-squeezed Florida orange juice, and mango are all evident in a good example.”

Richard Cox, a retired brewer from London, raised the apple in 1825 in the village of Colnbrook Lawn, Berkshire, from seeds of a Ribston Pippin. Its other parent is unknown. Cox’s Orange Pippin was introduced in America about 1850.

Ribston Pippin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ribston Pippin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ribston Pippin, like its offspring Cox’s Orange Pippin, is both beautiful and delicious. Ready in mid-season, it is a small to medium in size, slightly conical in shape, with color that combines brown, gold, orange, and crimson. Its yellow flesh is crisp and juicy.

Highly aromatic, its complex flavor is more tart than sweet at harvest, and it becomes spicy and sweet in storage, with hints of pear. But it does not keep for long. It is outstanding eaten fresh, and also good for cooking.

Ribston Pippin was discovered in Yorkshire in the early 1700s, and became popular in New England, New York, and parts of Canada in the early 1800s.

Ashmead's Kernel apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ashmead’s Kernel apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ashmead’s Kernel may even exceed Cox’s Orange Pippin and Ribston Pippin in richness of flavor. It is a mid-season apple, medium to small, round, with heavy russet and an orange blush covering a copper-colored skin. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy, and its balanced, sweet-tart flavor has hints of vanilla, orange, pear, nutmeg, lemon, and tea. Its flavor improves in storage, and it stores well. It is especially good eaten fresh and in cider.

Among those lavishing praise on Ashmead Kernel was the late food writer Philip Morton Shand: “Its initial Madeira-like mellowness of flavor overlies a deeper honeyed nuttiness, crisply sweet not sugar sweet. Surely no apple of greater distinction or more perfect balance can ever have been raised anywhere on earth.”

William Ashmead discovered the chance seedling that bears his name in his garden in Goucester in the 1700s. The term “kernel” is synonymous with pippin, or seed.

D'Arcy Spice apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

D’Arcy Spice apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

D’Arcy Spice is a late-season apple, round, medium to small, with russet and red-orange color over a thick, yellow-green skin. Its cream-colored flesh is aromatic, and its texture can range from tender to crisp. Its balanced, sweet-tart flavor, while somewhat mild, has hints of spice and nutmeg, and it becomes sweeter and more complex in storage.

D’Arcy Spice was discovered growing in a garden in the village of Tolleshunt D’Arcy, Essex, in 1785. It was introduced by nurseryman John Harris in 1848, and was originally called Baddow Pippin.

Knobbed Russet apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Knobbed Russet apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Knobbed Russet, or Knobby Russet, may well lay claim to being the world’s ugliest apple. It is a small, misshapen apple, its skin gnarly and russeted. Its cream-colored flesh is dense, and not very juicy. That it has survived for two centuries is testimony to its outstanding flavor, more sweet than tart, complex and nutty. It is best eaten fresh or pressed in cider. It stores well.

Discovered in Sussex in 1819, Knobbed Russet was nearly extinct by the 1940s (in addition to its appearance, it can be difficult to grow), when it was rediscovered during England’s national fruit trials.

Pitmaston Pineapple apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Pitmaston Pineapple apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

If Knobbed Russet is the ugliest of apples, Pitmaston Pineapple may be the smallest. It, too, can credit its outstanding flavor for its survival. A small apple not much larger than a grape or golf ball, Pitmaston Pineapple is round or conical in shape with bronze skin covered in light russet. A mid-season apple, its crisp, cream-colored flesh lacks much juice, but it has a balanced sweet-tart, nutty flavor with hints of honey, and a distinctive pineapple taste. Its small size limits its utility for cooking, but it is outstanding for fresh eating and good in cider.

Pitmaston Pineapple was discovered by a Mr. White around 1785, possibly from the seed of a Golden Pippin. It was presented to the London Horticultural Society in 1845 by Mr. Williams, a nurseryman from Pitmaston.

Howgate Wonder apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Howgate Wonder apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

In stark contrast to Pitmaston Pineapple, the mid-season Howgate Wonder alone among English apples is exceptionally large in size. Brownish-red over a yellow-green skin, it has crisp, juicy cream-colored flesh. Its mild flavor is more sweet than tart. It holds its shape when cooked, and its flesh turns yellow. It is good for fresh-eating apple and in cider. It develops a harmless greasy skin in storage.

A Howgate Wonder held the unofficial title of world’s largest apple in 2012, weighing in at three pounds, 11 ounces, and seven inches in diameter, with a 21-inch circumference.

Howgate Wonder is relatively new among English varieties, discovered in 1915 by G. Wratton, a retired policeman of Howgate Lane, Bembridge, in the Isle of Wight. It was introduced in 1932. The original tree lived until the 1960s. Howgate Wonder has English parents; its size can be traced to Newton Wonder (1887), and its greasy skin from Blenheim Orange (1740).

Other English transplants to New England’s orchards include the yellow-green Claygate Pearmain, and Lamb Abbey Pearmain, a red-striped apple on yellow skin, both from the early 1800s.

To find orchards that grow these unusual apples, visit New England Apples and follow the link for “Find an Apple Orchard” to search by state or variety.

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COME VISIT the New England Apples booth in the Massachusetts State Building at the Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”) now through Sunday, September 28, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The booth features fresh apples, fresh cider, cider donuts, apple pies, and other baked goods.

Fresh apples are being supplied by Massachusetts orchards Atkins Farms in Amherst, The Big Apple in Wrentham, Brookfield Orchards in North Brookfield, Carlson Orchards in Harvard, Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown, Pine Hill Orchards in Colrain, Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, and Tougas Family Farm in Northborough.

The booth features award-winning cider donuts made by Atkins Farms in Amherst, fresh, crisp apple cider from Carlson Orchards in Harvard; and fresh-baked apple pies and apple crisp made with apples supplied by Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown.

Executive Director Bar Weeks and Senior Writer Russell Powell are on hand every day to meet with people and answer questions about apples. Their new book, Apples of New England, is available for sale and signing, along with their first book, America’s Apple.

The 2015 New England Apples full-color wall calendar, the revised New England Apples brochure/poster, and brochures from member Massachusetts orchards will be available to visitors during the fair, the largest in New England. Last year’s fair attracted 1.4 million visitors.

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