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Posts Tagged ‘Ginger Gold apple’

A bin of fresh-picked Gala apples at Fairview Orchards in Groton, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

A bin of fresh-picked Gala apples at Fairview Orchards in Groton, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Gala apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gala apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

NO MATTER how you pronounce it, Gala is among the very best sweet apples. It has more character and nuance than most sweet varieties, with outstanding apple and pear flavor. Gala is juicy, and it is good for both fresh eating and cooking.

Gala’s skin changes color from harvest to storage, often beginning with streaks of yellow on a red background, gradually intensifying to a deeper red, with hints of orange, as the season wears on.

Gala has complex parentage. It conical shape and some of its sweetness comes from Red Delicious and Golden Delicious. Golden Delicious also supplies some of its early season color. Two other Gala parents have orange in their name: the English heirloom Cox’s Orange Pippin, and Kidd’s Orange Red, an apple from New Zealand.

Even the name fits the apple, compact, short and sweet. Biting into a Gala is, as Merriam-Webster defines the word, a festive celebration. Both pronunciations, incidentally, with either a long or short first “a,” are considered correct.

Gala was discovered in New Zealand in 1934, and introduced commercially in 1970. It was one of seven major commercial apple varieties released in the United States between 1962 and 1970, the others with similarly succinct names: Fuji (1962) and Akane (1970) from Japan, Empire (1966) and Jonagold (1968) from New York, PaulaRed from Michigan (1968), and Ginger Gold from West Virginia (1969).

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THIS FRIDAY, September 18, marks the opening of the 2015 Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”), the region’s largest fair, which draws about 1.5 million people during its 17-day run. The New England Apple Association booth, in the rear of the Massachusetts Building, will once again feature a variety of fresh apples, baked goods, fresh cider, and literature about the region’s orchards.

The fair runs daily through Sunday, October 4. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

We will have fresh cider from Carlson Orchards in Harvard, cider donuts from Atkins Farm in Amherst, and fresh apples this weekend from Carlson Orchards, Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, and Nestrovich Fruit Farm, 561 Main Rd., Granville. We will also have apple crisp and apple pie!

If you are not out visiting an orchard, please stop by!

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THIS SHORT VIDEO has tips about how to prepare for your visit to a pick-your-own orchard:

 

 

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EARLY SEASON APPLES have come a long way in the past 50 years. Today, there are a number of excellent choices to satisfy people’s palettes as they await the arrival of the traditional fall apples like McIntosh and Cortland.

These newer early season varieties taste better and last longer than many of their predecessors. Here are six of the best:

Akane apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Akane apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Akane (ah-KAH-neh) was discovered in Japan in 1937, but it was not released commercially until 1970. It has beautiful red color with occasional yellow streaks, and sweet-tart flavor with hints of strawberry. Crisp and juicy, Akane is good for both eating and cooking, as it holds it shape well. Akane is the result of a cross between two heirloom varieties: Jonathan, which supplies Akane’s rich red color, and Worcester Pearmain, which contributes its strawberry flavor.

Ginger Gold apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ginger Gold apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ginger Gold was discovered as a chance seedling at a Virginia orchard in 1969; based on its characteristics and where it was found, it may be a cross between Golden Delicious and Newtown Pippin. It has yellow-green skin and is crisp and juicy. Ginger Gold’s flavor is more sweet than tart. It is good for both cooking and fresh eating, and its flesh browns slowly when sliced, making it especially good in salads.

Pristine apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Pristine apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Pristine was developed at Purdue University in Indiana in 1975, and released commercially in 1994. Yellow with an occasional pink blush, Pristine’s sweet-tart flavor has hints of citrus. It is crisper and stores better than many early season varieties. Its parentage is obscure, a cross between an unnamed seedling and Camuzat, a little-known apple from Spain.

Sansa apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Sansa apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Sansa is another red apple with yellow streaking, although it sometimes can be deep pink. It is the product of a 1970 collaboration between researchers in Japan and New Zealand, and it was released commercially in 1988. It is sweet and juicy, with just a little tang, and it is considered best for fresh eating. Sansa is a cross between, Akane, which contributes to its red color, and Gala, which lends it sweetness.

Williams' Pride apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Williams’ Pride apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Williams’ Pride is another apple developed at Purdue’s joint apple-breeding program with Rutgers University in New Jersey and the University of Illinois. It was discovered in 1975 and released commercially in 1988. Maroon red, it is crisp and juicy, with a spicy, sweet-tart taste. It is considered a good all-purpose apple and is especially good for fresh eating. Williams’ Pride is the result of a complex cross that includes Jonathan, Melba, Mollie’s Delicious, and Rome.

Zestar! apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Zestar! apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Zestar! is the newest of this early bunch, developed in 1999 at the University of Minnesota. It is mostly red in color over a yellow base. Crisp and juicy, its flavor is more sweet than tart. A good all-purpose apple, Zestar! is the trademarked name for the variety, which resulted from a cross of an unknown seedling with State Fair, a little-known apple native to Minnesota.

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VISITORS to Farm Fresh Fest at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Massachusetts, this weekend, will have a chance to taste some of these outstanding early season apples at the New England Apple Association booth. In addition to fresh apples, there will be apple baked goods and other apple treats.

Executive Director Bar Lois Weeks and Senior Writer Russell Steven Powell will be on hand to talk about apples and the upcoming season, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, August 29, and Sunday, August 30.

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NEW ENGLAND expects a good apple crop in 2015.

The U. S. Apple Association estimates the 2015 New England apple crop at 4.03 million 42-pound boxes, 18 percent higher than the region’s five-year average of 3.42 million-boxes. The crop is expected to be about 14 percent larger than 2014’s fresh harvest of 3.55 million boxes.

Growing conditions were outstanding in early spring and summer, with good weather during the pollination period throughout the region, and little or no damage from frost. Parts of New England have been dry for the past month, notably areas of Connecticut and New Hampshire, and there has been scattered hail damage in some areas, but over all the crop is shaping up nicely.

The timing of the New England apple harvest so far is on schedule, with early varieties like Akane, Ginger Gold, Pristine, Sansa, Williams’ Pride, and Zestar! already being picked. McIntosh, which accounts for about two-thirds of the crop, is expected to be available by Labor Day Weekend or soon thereafter in most areas.

To find detailed listings of area orchards, visit the home page of the New England Apples website, and click on “Find an Apple Orchard.” Be sure to call ahead to see what is ready for picking.

Most of the region’s orchards expect to have plenty of apples in a range of varieties and sizes.

Here is USApple’s state-by-state forecast for 2015 (in units of 42-pound boxes):

2015 crop estimate 2014 harvest % change from 2014 5-year average % change from 5-year average
Connecticut 631 K 474K +33% 516 K +22%
Maine 1,000 K 905K +11% 738 K +35%
Massachusetts 1,121 K 1,031K +9% 906 K +24%
New Hampshire 495 K 402K +23% 461 K +7%
Rhode Island 55 K 43K +28% 53 K +4%
Vermont 729 K 700K +4% 750 K -3%

The 2015 United States apple crop is predicted to be 234.8 million boxes, about 14 percent smaller than 2014, according to USApple’s annual forecast. Leading the way is Washington state, with an estimated crop of 143 million boxes, about 18 percent smaller than a year ago. New York expects to harvest 26.2 million boxes, a 15 percent decrease from 2014, and Michigan will be slightly down from a year ago, at 24,000 million boxes.

The 2015 national apple crop forecast is close to the five-year average of 236,008 million boxes.

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TWO RECENT BOOKS by Russell Steven Powell, senior writer, and Bar Lois Weeks, executive director of the New England Apple Association, explore the history of apple growing in the region and look at the nation’s apple industry.

'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven PowellApples of New England (Countryman Press) is an indispensable resource for anyone searching for apples in New England orchards, farm stands, or grocery stores — or trying to identify an apple tree in their own backyard.

The book contains color photographs by Weeks and descriptions of more than 200 apples discovered, grown, or sold in New England, accompanied by notes about flavor and texture, history, ripening time, storage quality, and best use. Apples of New England offers practical advice about rare heirlooms and newly discovered apples.

Apples of New England includes chapters on the rich tradition of apple growing in New England, and on the “fathers” of American apples, Massachusetts natives John Chapman (“Johnny Appleseed”) and Henry David Thoreau. Apples of New England presents the apple in all its splendor: as a biological wonder, as a super food, as a work of art, and as a cultural icon.

America's AppleAmerica’s Apple (Brook Hollow Press) tells a rich and detailed story about apple growing in America, from horticulture to history to culinary uses. Powell writes about the best ways to eat, drink, and cook with apples. He describes the orchard’s beauty and introduces readers to some of the family farms where apples are grown today, many of them spanning generations.

America’s Apple looks at how America’s orchards are changing as a result of the trend toward intensive planting and the trademarking of new varieties, and what that means to consumers. Powell also writes about the fragile underpinnings of modern agriculture: the honeybees needed to pollinate the crop and the labor required to pick it, plus new and exotic pests and increasingly volatile weather.

Apples of New England and America’s Apple are available in hardcover at fine bookstores and orchards and online. America’s Apple is also available in paperback.

For more information, write to newenglandapples@verizon.net.

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Carlson Orchards, Harvard, Massachusetts (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

A full crop of apples will soon be ripe at Carlson Orchards, Harvard, Massachusetts, but first comes the peaches. The orchard holds its 13th Annual Peach Festival this weekend. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Frank Carlson of Carlson Orchards, Harvard, Massachusetts (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Frank Carlson inspects Honeycrisp apples, which are still developing size and color. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

THERE IS NOTHING like a day of orchard hopping to get the juices going about the 2015 apple crop. We arrived at Carlson Orchards in Harvard, Massachusetts, around noon on a beautiful August day. Frank Carlson, who runs the orchard with his two brothers, Bruce and Bobby, had Greek salads waiting for us at a picnic table, but he had to excuse himself several times to take phone calls or fill orders for peaches. At 72, Frank is always on the move, yet in between interruptions he patiently offers a steady stream of information and observations about apples and tree fruit.

The big news of the day was about dreaded hail. A series of vicious storms had swept across much of the region the day before, and growers were now looking for news of their neighbors, comparing notes, and looking for damage.

Just a few seconds of hail can injure an apple crop, shredding the leaves and nicking the fruit. A bad storm can wipe out an entire orchard in less than a minute. Fortunately Carlson Orchards was not hit, but there were scattered reports of hail in central Massachusetts.

It has been a good spring and summer growing season so far, but there are still several critical weeks before the main harvest begins in September. The growers can only hope that they get through this period without getting hit by heavy winds, which can knock apples off the tree, or hail.

But Carlson Orchards, like most of New England’s orchards, has an outstanding crop. We drove through the orchard and stopped to inspect Ginger Gold, Honeycrisp, and Macoun trees, all loaded with developing fruit. We followed the shrill note of a red-tailed hawk and watched it soar above the orchard. The raptor is welcome here, as it helps keep down the rodent population. Every living creature wants a bite of these apples, it seems, from deer and turkeys to mice, bugs, and bacteria.

Frank points out a sun spot on one apple, the fruit’s equivalent of sunburn. There are tiny nicks from hail on just a few apples, not enough to worry about. He cuts a third apple open to reveal some discoloring inside. These are minor flaws. All things considered, it appears to be an excellent crop.

Other than the threat of hail, the big unknowns now are size and color, for which the next month’s weather will play a critical role. Timely rain in the next few weeks will help the apples size properly. Cool nights are needed to draw the apple’s sugars closer to its skin, and to develop red color.

The trees are brimming with apples at Brookfield Orchards, North Brookfield, Massachusetts (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

The trees are brimming with apples at Brookfield Orchards, North Brookfield, Massachusetts, above and below left. (Bar Lois Weeks photos)

It is early August, but the earliest apples have already come and gone, starting with two rare ancient apples of Russian descent, Red Astrachan and Yellow Transparent. Their age and parentage are unknown, but they are believed to go back to at least the 17th century. Both apples ripen in late July, and they are gone in a few short weeks.

Red Astrachan’s mild, tart flavor is considered especially good in sauce and pies. Yellow Transparent is sweet with a hint of tartness. Both heirlooms can satisfy a craving for fresh apples if eaten soon after they are picked, but their flesh softens almost as quickly as a blueberry or peach.

A newer short-season apple called Vista Bella was being picked in late July at Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, Massachusetts. Developed at Rutgers University in 1956 from a mix of five rare apples (July Red, Melba, Sonora, Starr, and Williams), Vista Bella was not released commercially until 1974. Its flavor is mild, with a hint of raspberry.

Brookfield Orchards, North Brookfield, Massachusetts (Bar Lois Weeks photo)Almost as rare as the Russian apples are Lodi, a tart, yellow-green apple with soft flesh, developed from a cross of Montgomery and Yellow Transparent in New York state in 1924, and Quinte, a Canadian apple from 1964 resulting from a Red Melba-Crimson Beauty cross. Quinte is mostly red, firmer than Lodi, with a nicely balanced flavor.

Brookfield Orchards in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, has a small supply of both apples, and Diana Nydam, a member of the fifth generation of the farm started by Arthur Lincoln in 1918, saved a few of each for us to sample and photograph. Brookfield Orchards, too, was spared from hail and is looking at a better-than-average crop.

Two of the next apples to arrive on the scene, Jersey Mac and PaulaRed, are more widely available and keep better than the other varieties in this early season group. Despite its name, Jersey Mac does not have McIntosh heritage; its parentage includes Melba, Wealthy, Starr, and Red Rome.

Like Vista Bella, Jersey Mac was developed at Rutgers University in 1956, and released commercially in 1971. Jersey Mac has a mild, sweet flavor, with hints of strawberry. While it does not store well compared to later apples, it lasts longer than the first apples to appear, especially if kept cold.

PaulaRed is of similar vintage as Jersey Mac, discovered in Michigan in 1960 and released commercially in 1968. It is a chance seedling discovered near an orchard of McIntosh trees, and its sweet-tart flavor and red color with green highlights suggest that its parentage may include McIntosh.

The real Macs are just a few short weeks away.

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IN BETWEEN visits to Carlson and Brookfield Orchards, we made a brief stop at J. P. Sullivan and Co. in Ayer, the biggest apple packing and shipping facility in New England. Big things are happening at J. P. Sullivan this summer, including a major solar installation and a brand new packing line that is scheduled to go online August 20.

This once-in-a-generation investment speaks volumes about the company’s confidence in the apple industry, and will give apples an even smoother, safer ride as they are cleaned, sorted, and packed for shipping to the region’s grocery stores.

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If you are considering orchard hopping this weekend, here are two events of note:

THE OPENING RECEPTION for the third Art In The Orchard, a biennial outdoor sculptural exhibit at Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton, Massachusetts, is this Saturday, August 15, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This walking orchard tour features the works of more than 20 artists from around the region, whose sculptures are nestled in and among the apple trees. The sculptures will remain on view through October 15.

Carlson Orchards celebrates its 13th Annual Peach Festival Saturday, August 15, and Sunday, August 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. There will be live music, hay rides to the peach orchards, product sampling, and a cookout. For more information, call 978-456-3916.

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WORKING ORCHARD MANAGER: Seeking a passionate, hardworking manager and farmer for a family owned and operated fruit orchard in central Connecticut that has been in business for more than 38 years. We grow apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, and plums for pick-your-own and wholesale on 33 acres with a country store, which is managed separately.

The position will lead and oversee the property, farming, and management of staff, as well as hands-on work that includes, but is not limited to, pruning, fertilizing, spraying, herbiciding, harvesting, grading, and running wholesale and pick-your-own business.

Experience in fruit growing is preferred but not necessary. On-site training from the owner of the orchard will be a large part of the on-boarding process to help you learn the details of the property and business. The owner will be your partner in management to ensure success, as we see this as a long-term career opportunity for you.

Thank you for your interest. Please call 203-213-8833 to learn more about this new position.

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TWO RECENT BOOKS by Russell Steven Powell, senior writer, and Bar Lois Weeks, executive director of the New England Apple Association, explore the history of apple growing in the region and look at the nation’s apple industry.

'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven PowellApples of New England (Countryman Press) is an indispensable resource for anyone searching for apples in New England orchards, farm stands, or grocery stores — or trying to identify an apple tree in their own backyard.

The book contains color photographs by Weeks and descriptions of more than 200 apples discovered, grown, or sold in New England, accompanied by notes about flavor and texture, history, ripening time, storage quality, and best use. Apples of New England offers practical advice about rare heirlooms and newly discovered apples.

Apples of New England includes chapters on the rich tradition of apple growing in New England, and on the “fathers” of American apples, Massachusetts natives John Chapman (“Johnny Appleseed”) and Henry David Thoreau. Apples of New England presents the apple in all its splendor: as a biological wonder, as a super food, as a work of art, and as a cultural icon.

America's AppleAmerica’s Apple (Brook Hollow Press) tells a rich and detailed story about apple growing in America, from horticulture to history to culinary uses. Powell writes about the best ways to eat, drink, and cook with apples. He describes the orchard’s beauty and introduces readers to some of the family farms where apples are grown today, many of them spanning generations.

America’s Apple looks at how America’s orchards are changing as a result of the trend toward intensive planting and the trademarking of new varieties, and what that means to consumers. Powell also writes about the fragile underpinnings of modern agriculture: the honeybees needed to pollinate the crop and the labor required to pick it, plus new and exotic pests and increasingly volatile weather.

Apples of New England and America’s Apple are available in hardcover at fine bookstores and orchards and online. America’s Apple is also available in paperback.

For more information, write to newenglandapples@verizon.net.

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WITH THE 2015 pick-your-own season upon us, now is a good time to review our four-minute video about how to prepare for your orchard visit:

Happy picking!

 

 

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Golden Delicious, from Lanni Orchards in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, is an outstanding all-purpose apple. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Golden Delicious, from Lanni Orchards in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, is an outstanding all-purpose apple. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

NEXT TO “What is the best pie apple?” the question I am asked the most — and which I frequently ask others — is “What is your favorite apple?” It’s not an easy question to answer. It’s not something you can even ask about a strawberry or a banana, and there are many ways to slice it.

These are things I consider:

  • Flavor – sweet to tart
  • Juiciness
  • Texture – tender, crisp, or dense
  • Physical beauty – striking color, distinctive shape
  • Storage quality
  • Character – some apples gain complexity and sweetness over time
  • Early, mid-, or late-season
  • Availability – some apples for only a few weeks
  • Quality – according to season and region
  • Heirlooms or new apples

No other fruit locates us in place and time as apples do, or has the power to remind us of important people in our lives. On a macro scale, apple myths and stories serve as historical milestones across cultures and centuries. From this fruit we glean attitudes toward commerce, cooking, diet, and landscape, as well as religion and science, from Adam and Eve to the Golden Apple, from Sir Isaac Newton to Johnny Appleseed, each with its particular context and meaning.

Apples continue to leave cultural footprints today, in New York City, otherwise known as “The Big Apple” since the 1920s, and in commerce: the Beatles’ Apple Record label in 1968, and the Apple computer company in 1976. Apple Computer carries its apple imagery one step further, naming its iconic personal computer after New England’s iconic apple: McIntosh, or simply Mac.

On a micro level, many people have strong personal and emotional ties to apples, a grandfather or uncle who owned an orchard, perhaps, or a youthful job sorting, picking, or selling apples at a neighbor’s. Apples are uniquely tangible legacies of our mothers and grandmothers through the knowledge of a favorite pie apple and hand-scrawled recipes on ancient index cards stained with egg white threads and traces of cinnamon.

Cortland apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Cortland apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Apples have many associations for us, culturally and as individuals, and my personal experience influences my favorites. I grew up with McIntosh and Cortland, and Northern Spy is my mother’s favorite pie apple. My friend uses nothing but Cortland in his pies for 25 years. I’m sure his daughter has taken notice.

These associations help explain why every apple has its fans: an apple may evoke warm memories of places as well as people, adding depth to its eating appeal.

Black Oxford apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Black Oxford apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Jonathan, a beautiful red heirloom from New York, is a favorite of a friend from the Midwest, where it has long been popular, and much to his chagrin it is not widely grown in New England. Black Oxford, despite its distinctive color and good eating qualities, is rarely found outside of its native Maine.

It may be that a variety has superior flavor only when grown in certain soils and climates. Wolf River is a favorite of many Wisconsin natives, where the apple is also native; in New England it is typically valued more for its exceptionally large size than its mild flavor.

Propagated through grafting, apples are direct descendants of the original tree of the variety, sometimes centuries old; eating one is like ingesting a bit of history, a living reminder of the rural, agrarian roots of now-urban settings like Roxbury, Dedham, and Wilmington, Massachusetts, or Hartford, Connecticut.

With names like Tinmouth, Bethel, and Boxford, apples continue to celebrate small towns in New England’s rural countryside, too, or else perpetuate the memory of a farmer, landowner, or statesman, such as the Massachusetts apple Baldwin, named for a distinguished war veteran, public servant, and civil engineer, Col. Loammi Baldwin.

An apple’s history, no matter how illustrious, does not make it taste any better. Still, knowing its unusual or local story can influence my choice. 

THIS LONG PREAMBLE to my list of favorites is necessary to explain why I can only narrow it down to eight apples.

I could happily survive on dozens of other varieties:

Akane apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Akane apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Akane and Sansa are two of the best of the early season apples. I’ve rarely met a russeted apple I didn’t like, such as Roxbury Russet, America’s oldest named variety (1635).

It is hard to imagine a better all-purpose apple than Cortland or the sweeter Golden Delicious, or a more interesting apple than the orange russet, Ashmead’s Kernel.

Some apples have vintage years, like fine wines. Two years ago, Ginger Gold from Tougas Family Farm in Northborough, Massachusetts, were the best I ever had; last year it was Shamrock from the University of Massachusetts Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown.

Gravenstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gravenstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

This year, two relatively hard-to-find apples were particularly noteworthy: Gravenstein, from Atkins Farms in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Suncrisp, from Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner, Maine.

Suncrisp apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Suncrisp apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Both were exceptionally crisp and juicy with a tantalizing, lemony tart flavor and looks to match. Gravenstein’s red and green blend like a watercolor, Suncrisp’s rich yellow has beautiful pink cheeks or stripes.

But none of these fine apples make my list.

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

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

MY THREE FAVORITE heirlooms are Cox’s Orange Pippin (England, 1825), Baldwin (Massachusetts, 1740), and Northern Spy (Connecticut, 1840).

Cox’s Orange Pippin’s complex flavor is the best of any apple I have tasted. Cox’s Orange Pippin is hard to find, and orchards sell out by December.

Northern Spy apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Northern Spy apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

After dominating apple production in the Northeast for more than a century, Baldwin and Northern Spy were surpassed in the 1930s by McIntosh and Cortland, which are easier to grow. Fortunately, you can still find these heirlooms at many orchards, and because they store so well, supplies often last through December.

Baldwin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Baldwin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

From an eating standpoint, both Baldwin and Northern Spy are superior apples, and they are especially good in baking: large, firm, and they hold their shape. Northern Spy in particular has been a favorite pie apple for generations of bakers. Baldwin and Northern Spy are good eaten fresh, too, lively, spicy, with some tartness.

In general I like my apple to have a little bite, some tang, a degree of tartness. It goes with being a New Englander, the complex flavors analogous to living with the four seasons. An apple with some spiciness or tartness broadens my experience of flavor.

I like a sweet apple now and then, though, and there are some good choices, like the russeted, pear-flavored Hudson’s Golden Gem (Oregon, 1931). But I put Honeycrisp (Minnesota, 1991) at the top of my sweet apple list, followed by Gala (New Zealand, 1934).

Honeycrisp apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Honeycrisp apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Honeycrisp has a distinctive, light-crisp texture that explodes with more juice than any other apple. It is the biggest new variety to hit the apple industry in the past 50 years, and its success has apple breeders around the globe scrambling to develop the next pomological superstar.

Gala apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gala apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gala is the Golden Retriever of apples, ubiquitous, not the most complex creature but irresistibly sweet, and beautiful to behold. With its pear-like taste, Gala is a more flavorful alternative to the sweet, bland Red Delicious. Both apples have a distinctive conical shape, but Gala’s color is more complex than the monochromatic Red Delicious, turning gradually deeper shades of yellow, red, and orange in storage.

Macoun apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Macoun apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Two fresh-eating apples on my favorites list are Macoun (New York, 1923), and Jonagold (New York, 1968). Macoun has some of the pleasing tartness of its McIntosh parent but a crisper texture, and a complex, spicy flavor with hints of strawberry. I love its wine-red color and boxy shape.

Jonagold apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Jonagold apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Jonagold has a light-crisp, juicy flesh similar to Honeycrisp but not as sweet, with just enough tartness to give it depth. Jonagold happens to be beautiful as well, a fiery blend of gold and red from its Golden Delicious and Jonathan parents. Popular at orchards and at farm stands — and especially in Europe — Jonagold curiously has not yet caught on in most of New England’s supermarkets.

McIntosh apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

McIntosh apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

I must include McIntosh (Canada, 1801), available throughout the year. McIntosh is the standard, the staple, so consistently good and widely available that I sometimes take it for granted. But there are good reasons that this durable heirloom, is New England’s most popular apple.

McIntosh has great flavor and aroma, refreshingly crisp and tart when first picked and mellowing over time, a little sweeter and juicier in storage. It’s great for fresh eating.

McIntosh adds exceptional flavor to almost any baked good. Some people don’t like the fact that its tender flesh tends to break down when baked, but this is not always the case, and it can be ameliorated by mixing in a few firmer varieties. The ingredients for Peg’s New England Apple Squares include cornflakes in the filling, which soak up excess juice and contributes to the pastry’s firmness.

Those are my choices, a favorite apple for all purposes, and for all seasons.

And you? What is your favorite apple?

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'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven Powell

APPLES 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.

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' cover

AMERICA’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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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.

*          *          *

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.

*          *          *

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

*          *          *

'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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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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The McIntosh apples are sizing up nicely at Buell's Orchard in Eastford, Connecticut, and should be ready for picking on or near New England Apple Day September 3. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

The McIntosh apples are sizing up nicely at Buell’s Orchard in Eastford, Connecticut, and should be ready for picking on or near New England Apple Day September 3. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

 

Ginger Gold apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ginger Gold apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

ONE OF THE BEST early season apples is a relatively new one, Ginger Gold. It was discovered in 1969 in Lovingston, Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. With the 2014 New England fresh apple harvest just underway, it will not be long before these beauties are ready for picking — as early as this weekend in some locations.

Ginger Gold has crisp, juicy, white flesh, with outstanding flavor, sweet with a little tartness. It is medium to large in size, round to conical in shape, and has a green-yellow skin, often with a light pink blush.

Ginger Gold is good for both cooking and fresh eating, especially in salads, as its flesh browns slowly when sliced. Its season is short, beginning in mid- to late August; like most early season apples, it does not store as well as many later varieties.

Ginger Gold was a chance seedling discovered in the orchard of Clyde and Ginger Harvey. Clyde originally proposed naming the apple “Harveylicious.” Fortunately,
wiser heads prevailed, and Clyde was persuaded to use his wife’s first name instead. Ginger Gold’s parentage is not known, but its color, flavor, and other traits suggest that it may include both Golden Delicious and Albemarle Pippin.

To find out where Ginger Gold is grown, visit New England Apples and click on “Find An Apple Orchard.” Be sure to call ahead to learn the ripening dates at the orchard you intend to visit, as they vary some according to location.

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NEXT TUESDAY, August 19, is Savior of the Apple Feast Day, an Eastern Slavic holiday of pre-Christian origin associated with harvesting of ripe fruits, especially apples. Sometime after the 10th century, it became celebrated by Russian Orthodox Christians in conjunction with the New Testament narrative of the Transfiguration of Jesus.

On Savior of the Apple Feast Day, people from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine eat apples, apple pies, and other apple dishes — even if they are not Orthodox Christians. Churches across the countries bless the new harvest. According to one tradition, a person making a wish while eating an apple on Savior of the Apple Feast Day will have it come true.

Here is an account of a 2011 Savior of the Apple Feast Day from Margaret McKibbon, president of American Friends of Russian Folklore, excerpted from the Historic Hostess website:

“At a church in Belarus, every family brought a basket lined with a colorful woven or embroidered towel and filled with apples and other fruit, usually what was growing in their own gardens at home. The baskets were tucked out of the way until the end of the liturgy, when the parishioners drew back to leave a central aisle clear with baskets on the floor lining it on both sides.

“The priest then advanced down the aisle, repeating a blessing as he flicked blessed water over the baskets and people. After a closing prayer everybody picked up their baskets and headed for home, old ladies serenely pedaling their bicycles down the road.

“At home, our hostess carefully divided up the blessed fruit into portions for her friends and relatives who had not been at the service. Much of the rest of the day was spent in paying visits and distributing the fruit, which was always received with reverence and gratitude.”

Closer to home but a bit later, New England Apple Day will officially launch the local apple harvest Wednesday, September 3, as the commissioners of agriculture in the six New England states make appearances at a number of orchards throughout the region. Details to follow as the date nears.

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FOR THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, ripe apples will overlap with green tomatoes. Ruth Griggs of Northampton, Massachusetts, supplied us with a recipe that combines the two:

“I wrote this down in the early 1970s as told to me by Louise Leu, who looked over our family farm, Stone Farm, in Chesterfield, New Hampshire. Louise was of German heritage and moved next door in the early 1960s from Queens, New York, when her husband, an accomplished violinist named Lou Leu, became ill.

“Louise tended our huge vegetable garden and put up all the vegetables come harvest — both freezing and canning — plus she made jams, pickles, sauerkraut, and the like. She was also a very good cook. I suspect this is a very old recipe, as the pie is served with ‘rich cream’ — perhaps before ice cream was invented?”

Green Tomato and Apple Pie

Brush bottom and sides of a pastry-lined pie with unbeaten egg white and cover with a layer of small green tomatoes, thinly sliced. Sprinkle with a little salt mixed with a little cinnamon and nutmeg and dot with 1 T butter creamed with 1 T brown sugar.

Cover with a layer of thinly sliced, tart apples and repeat the seasoning and sugar. Add another layer of green tomatoes and two of apples, each layer seasoned and sugared. Round the filling in the center and pour in 1/3 cup apple cider.

Adjust the top crust, make a few slashes, and brush with milk. Bake in a moderate oven for 40 minutes, or until the crust is delicately browned. Serve warm or cold with rich cream.

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