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Posts Tagged ‘Golden Delicious 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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The view from North Star Orchards, Madison, Maine, in mid-October. Like many New England orchards, North Star's farm store will remain open until Christmas. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

The view from North Star Orchards, Madison, Maine, in mid-October. Like many New England orchards, North Star’s farm store will remain open until Christmas. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Scandinavian Apple Cake (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Scandinavian Apple Cake (Russell Steven Powell photo)

VERSATILE as apples are, I have not come across many recipes that combine them with the sweet spice cardamom. Though native to India, Guatemala is now the leading producer of cardamom, an unusual spice that is often featured in Scandinavian baked goods.

My fondness for cardamom dates back to childhood, when my mother made a braided Scandinavian coffee bread every Christmas flavored with this distinctive spice. She always made breads to give away in addition to the loaves inhaled by our family of six, to family, friends, even the postman and milkman some years.

The coffee bread was highly aromatic, moist, and chewy, and it came served with butter topped by a thin layer of almond extract-tinged icing decorated with candied cherries and finely chopped walnut pieces. But it was the cardamom that gave the bread its distinctive bite.

In making the recipe below I followed my mother’s method of peeling whole cardamom seeds from their whitish husks, and grinding them by hand with mortar and pestle to the consistency of coarse pepper. This worked to great effect in her bread — you could see little shards of cardamom bursting with intense cardamom flavor — and whole seeds kept in glass jars keep their flavor longer.

But the cardamom flavor in the cake I made was too mild using this technique, overshadowed by the pecans. I subsequently read that finely ground cardamom is the preferred consistency for most baked goods, infusing them with stronger cardamom flavor than the rougher mortar-and-pestle-crushed seeds.

This Scandinavian Apple Cake recipe was adapted from one given to my mother by Trish Leipold of Wolfeboro Falls, New Hampshire, years ago; my mother only recently passed it along to me.

I made a few mistakes in my first attempt, corrected here. Further chopping of the cubed apples will improve the cake’s texture and make it moister by releasing more of the apples’ juice. The apple’s skin, incidentally, included for nutritional purposes, adds flavor and color to the cake.

I used three McIntosh and two Golden Delicious apples. The cake is delicious, and definitely merits another try.

Scandinavian Apple Cake

1 c white flour

1 c whole wheat flour

2 t cinnamon

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

⅔ t ground allspice

¼ t ground cardamom

pinch of salt

 

5 medium-sized New England apples, cored and chopped

½ c sugar

1 c chopped pecans or walnuts

⅔ c butter, melted

2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 t vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9”x13” baking dish.

In large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

In another large bowl, mix together apples, sugar, nuts, and butter. Using a food chopper or processor, make apple pieces about the size of peas. Stir in eggs and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients to apple mixture, stirring just until combined. Spread into prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until the apples are soft and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes clean.

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THIS SUNDAY, November 23, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. author Russell Steven Powell will sample apples, answer questions, and sign copies of his new book, Apples of New England, at Tags Hardware in the Porter Square Shopping Center, 29 White St., Cambridge, Massachusetts.

'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.

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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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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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.

*          *          *

'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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"Great New England Apple Pie" winner Lori Meiners points to her pie as a spectator prepares to sample it after the judging. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

“Great New England Apple Pie” winner Lori Meiners points to her pie as a spectator prepares to sample it after the judging. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

While neither the maple leaf pie nor the dragonfly won awards, they were noteworthy for their beautiful presentation. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

While neither the maple leaf pie nor the dragonfly won awards, they were noteworthy for their beautiful presentation. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

 2013 Great New England Apple Pie Contest. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

2013 Great New England Apple Pie Contest. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

JUDGING BEGAN earlier this year, late morning rather than early afternoon, and that meant a change in routine. Like a finely-tuned runner on marathon day, I had to carefully consider what to eat, and when, in advance of the competition, my fourth time serving as a judge at the annual “Great New England Apple Pie Contest.” The event was held Saturday, October 19, during the first day of Wachusett Mountain’s weekend-long AppleFest.

I needed just enough to blunt my appetite so that I would not be tempted to wolf down the first few entries. Caution is the word when you have to taste more than 40 pies in two hours; to continue the running metaphor, if you go out too fast at the beginning of the race, you will pay for it later on.

For the same reason, I needed to go light on breakfast. Too much food in my stomach and I might not make it through the day’s pies. I chose a small bowl of cereal about three hours before the judging began.

Now in its fourth year, the contest has grown in size, resulting in the earlier start. For the second year, Rick Leblanc of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources joined New England Apple Association Executive Director Bar Lois Weeks and me on the five-person panel of judges, with on-air radio personalities Chris Zito of WSRS and Ginny Sears of WTAG, both in Worcester.

One of the more unusual apple pies had a bacon latticework top. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

One of the more unusual apple pies had a bacon latticework top. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

THE RED-AND-WHITE checkered tables beneath a tent and a crisp October sky gave the event the informal atmosphere of a bake sale or church supper. But the long tables were laid out with impressive-looking apple pies of all descriptions, no two exactly the same.

Some pies had elaborately sculpted, crumb, or latticed crusts, some were arranged artfully in picnic baskets or surrounded by apples and foliage. Others came with no frills — just straightforward apple pie.

The pies are graded on presentation and appearance, but this is largely subjective, and in any event we judges agreed that the greater weight in our scores should go to flavor, crust, and texture. When it comes to looks, though, I am more partial to a beautiful, hand-crafted fluting around the pie’s edges than I am to a nice container, although both contribute to the pie’s sensory pleasure.

It is hard to make generalizations after sampling the efforts of 43 different bakers, mostly women. Almost any apple variety — or combination — can succeed in a well-made pie. Apple pies should be lightly spiced; I love nutmeg, but a little goes a long way. Less sugar usually means more apple flavor. A consistently flaky crust can take years of practice.

Cranberry Apple Pie, from the 2013 Great New England Apple Pie Contest. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Cranberry Apple Pie, from the 2013 Great New England Apple Pie Contest. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

WE BEGAN with eight pies in the “Apple and Other” category, and there were some outstanding ones with cranberries and pecans. Last year’s winner in the “Apple Only” category, Patricia Kuhn Bonita of Winthrop, Massachusetts, entered a pie featuring apples with Asian pear, but the pear flavor did not come through.

Bonita, a veteran pie-maker and winner at other contests, took the feedback in stride, especially since her friend, Anita Mochi, also of Winthrop, won the category with her Apple Praline Pie.

Then it was on to nearly three dozen “Apple Only” pies. Pacing myself with just two bites of each and cleansing my palate with water in between, I was fine until the last six or seven. I was able to maintain my focus during the judging, but for the first time I looked forward to the end.

Every last bite was worth it, though. Lori Meiners of Hubbardston, Massachusetts, won first prize in the “Apple Only” category with her delicious rendition of New England’s favorite dessert. The final scores were close, and we had to resample two pies in order to decide between the second- and third-place winners.

It is inspirational to see the combined efforts of so many proud and imaginative bakers, and humbling to evaluate their delicious but perishable works of art. I hope I am invited back to try again next year.

Lori Meiners’ Apple Pie

For the crust (makes 2 pies):

4 c unsifted flour, spooned lightly into cup

1 T sugar

2 t coarse salt

1-3/4 c shortening

1 T cider vinegar

1 egg

1/2 c water

For the filling:

8 large New England Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut up

3/4 c white sugar

1/4 c brown sugar

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t ground nutmeg

2 T flour

2 T butter, cut into pieces

For the wash:

1 egg yolk

1 T sour cream

1 t water

1. Prepare the crust:

In a large bowl, use a fork to mix the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the shortening until mixture is crumbly. In a small bowl, gently whisk together vinegar, egg, and water. Add egg mixture to flour mixture, and stir until just combined. Divide dough into four portions, quickly form into discs, wrap in plastic or waxed paper, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

2. Prepare the filling:

Peel, core, and slice the apples into a large, heat-proof bowl. Pour boiling water over apples until just covered, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside for 10 minutes. Drain water and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour, and set aside.

3. Assemble the pie:

Preheat oven to 350°. Roll out the dough: generously flour flat surface and both sides of the dough. Roll out to 1/4″ thick. Place in pie pan. Pour apples into pan. Add butter pieces, spread out on top of apples. Pour sugar mixture over apples. Roll out top crust and place over apples. Trim edges so there is about 1/2″ of dough hanging over edge of pan. Fold dough under and pinch to seal. Cut several slits in the top crust to vent steam while baking. In a small bowl, mix egg yolk, sour cream, and water, and paint over top crust.

4. Bake:

Place pie in preheated 350° oven for 35 to 40 minutes until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Anita Mochi’s Apple Praline Pie

Crust:

2-1/4 c flour

1/4 t salt

1/2 c shortening

7 T butter

5-7 T water

Apples:

2 Cortland

2 Honeycrisp

2 Jonagold

1 Granny Smith

Blend together:

3 T butter

1/4 c brown sugar

1/4 c sugar

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t nutmeg

1 t lemon juice

3-1/2 T flour

Praline topping:

In small saucepan, melt 1/4 c butter, 1/2 c brown sugar, 2 T cream. Bring to boil. Remover from heat and stir in 1/2 c pecans. Spread over pie shell and return to oven for five minutes.

The crowd had a chance to taste the entries while waiting for the winners to be announced. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

The crowd had a chance to taste the entries while waiting for the winners to be announced. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

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GoldRush were one of the last apples picked this fall at Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

GoldRush were one of the last apples picked this fall at Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

GOLDEN APPLES have been potent symbols of beauty, desire, and power over centuries in cultures around the globe. They appear in fairy tales from Bulgaria, Germany, Romania, and Russia — usually stolen from a king. In Norse mythology, golden apples grant immortal life to the gods.

Golden apples figure prominently in three Greek myths, serving in one as a catalyst for the Trojan War. Eris, the goddess of discord, was the only deity uninvited to the wedding of Peleus and the beautiful sea-nymph Thetis. Outraged, she threw a golden apple inscribed “for the fairest” before the goddesses Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera.

The three beauties argued over who should get the apple, and Zeus was loathe to decide, so he appointed a Trojan shepherd boy, Paris, to answer the question instead. The goddesses tried to bribe him. Hera, queen of Olympus, told Paris she would grant him power to rule the world. Athena, goddess of war and wisdom, said she would make him a brilliant strategist in battle.

Aphrodite, goddess of love, offered Paris the love of Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, even though Helen was married to the king of Sparta. Paris succumbed and awarded the golden apple to Aphrodite. She helped him to elope with Helen to Troy, launching the Trojan War and eventually leading to Paris’ death.

Aphrodite used golden apples again to aid the mortal Melanion, who wished to marry the brilliant athlete Atalanta. Atalanta had agreed to wed a suitor only if he managed to beat her in a foot race. With Aphrodite’s help, Melanion threw a golden apple ahead of Atalanta whenever he fell behind. Fascinated, she stopped to pick each one up, and she lost the race.

As a source of immortality, golden apples were the object of one of Hercules’ 12 labors. Hercules was commanded by Eurystheus to bring back golden apples from Hera’s Garden of Hesperides, at the edge of the world. The golden apples were guarded by a hundred-headed dragon, and by the Hesperides, the daughters of Atlas, the titan who bore the sky and the earth upon his shoulders.

After many trials, Hercules finally reached the garden, where he convinced Atlas to retrieve the apples from his daughters by agreeing to take over his burden, as Atlas was tired of holding up earth and sky. When Atlas returned with the golden apples, he told Hercules he would take them to Eurystheus himself, leaving Hercules to bear Atlas’ heavy load for eternity. Hercules agreed, but asked Atlas to take the world back for a moment while he padded his shoulders to better carry the weight. When Atlas set the apples on the ground, Hercules picked them up and ran off, carrying them back to Eurystheus.

* * *

THE GOLDEN APPLES we eat today may not bestow immortality, but their beauty and flavor make them divine enough to be food for the gods. Three late-season golden apples that thrive on New England soils are Golden Delicious and two of its offspring, Mutsu (also known as Crispin), and GoldRush.

Golden Delicious apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Golden Delicious apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

While unrelated to Red Delicious, Golden Delicious shares its conical shape and many of its flavor characteristics. Like the Red, Golden Delicious is a sweet, medium-to-large apple and is an excellent keeper. Golden Delicious has a greenish-yellow skin that turns gold, and its yellow flesh is crisp and juicy. It is good in cooking, especially in pies, as its flesh holds up well when cooked. Golden Delicious is also excellent eaten fresh and in salads.

The Golden Delicious originally was called Mullins Yellow Seedling after its discovery in West Virginia in 1890. It was renamed Golden Delicious when introduced commercially in 1916.

Mutsu, or Crispin, apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Mutsu, or Crispin, apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Mutsu, or Crispin, is an excellent dessert apple and good in salads, but it excels in pies and baking, with a sweet, light flavor when cooked, and holding its shape well. Mutsu can grow quite large (a pie made with them may require as few as three apples). Its flesh is white to pale yellow.

Mutsu has its origins in Japan, developed in 1930 from a Golden Delicious crossed with an Indo, a Japanese seedling. It was introduced in the United States in 1948.

GoldRush apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

GoldRush apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

GoldRush is a good dessert apple, juicy and honey-flavored like its Golden Delicious parent.

Golden Delicious is GoldRush’s seed parent, with crosses from several other research varieties including Siberian Crab Apple, Winesap, Melrose, and Rome Beauty. Its development began in 1945, but it took until 1973 for the first seedling to be planted at Purdue University by the cooperative breeding program of the Indiana, Illinois, and New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Stations. It was released commercially in 1993.

If you are planning a home orchard, GoldRush is considered a good choice due to its heavy bearing, disease resistance, winter hardiness, and ease of growing.

* * *

IF YOU ARE NOT QUITE READY to bake Thanksgiving pies, here is a recipe that you can try this weekend, using any of these golden varieties. Easy to make, it should make a delicious dessert all winter.

Apple Bread Pudding

4 slices of whole-grain bread

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1-2/3 c milk

1 t vanilla

3 New England apples, cored and thinly sliced, such as Golden Delicious, Mutsu, or GoldRush

1/4 c each white and brown sugars

1 t cinnamon

1/4 c butter, in chunks

In a medium size bowl, coarsely crumble the bread. In a small bowl, beat together eggs, milk, and vanilla. Pour milk mixture over the bread crumbs and set aside. Meanwhile, combine sliced apples, sugars, and cinnamon in an 8″ square buttered baking dish. Pour soaked bread crumbs over the apples. Dot with butter. Bake at 325° for 50 minutes or until apples are tender.

Serve warm with ice cream, hard sauce, frozen yogurt, or whipped cream.

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The naturally occurring bloom on these apples helps them retain moisture. A scab on an apple is no reason to waste an otherwise luscious piece of fruit. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

The naturally occurring bloom on these apples helps them retain moisture. A scab on an apple is no reason to waste an otherwise luscious piece of fruit. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

APPLE GROWERS spend their year trying to grow perfect fruit, and they succeed a remarkable amount of the time. The well-shaped, brilliantly colored, smooth-skinned apple is the norm at most orchards. But nature can be as messy as it is abundant, and invariably some fruit gets nicked or marred along the way.

There are many causes of blemishes to apples, and some are cosmetic only. The affected apple is perfectly good to eat, as long as the consumer values flavor over appearance. Take hail damage, for example. A beautiful looking crop can be impacted by as little as 30 seconds of a summer hail storm, leaving small nicks or pockmarks in the apples. If the damage is severe, the apple can split or discolor, and end up in the juice bin. But light hail damage is no reason to reject an otherwise delicious apple.

Sun spots are another cosmetic concern, a result of summer heat waves. As with hail, it makes the apple less attractive for eating, but the fresh fruit is not diminished in any other way.

Scab or russeting which appears as rough or raised spots on the apple’s skin has no impact on healthfulness or flavor. The same goes for bruises, which can occur when apples are mishandled between tree and table: they do no harm if eaten and should not deter anyone from the luscious fruit beneath.

One more thing: it is always wise to wash your apples and to give them a good shine. But the dull film on most apples straight from the tree is a naturally occurring bloom that helps the apple retain moisture (some consumers mistake it for pesticide residue).

Many people ask us where they can find organically grown apples in New England. Our moist climate makes this difficult, though some growers have tried, with limited success. We spoke with one grower in Rhode Island this spring, who several years ago set aside five acres of trees for organic treatment. This was the first year they could be sold as such. “Now,” the grower said, “my challenge is to engage consumers with what they think they want.”

What he meant is that his organic apples would likely have black specks, odd shapes, and other imperfections, qualities that most consumers have come to reject. More and more people want to eat healthy, buy local, and support the family farm. One way to do this is to rethink our demand for uniformity in our apples. The Red Delicious apples imported from the Pacific Northwest are famous for always looking exactly the same. But what they gain in appearance, they sacrifice in flavor.

If you are willing to overlook the occasional cosmetic flaw, nothing can match the flavors and textures of a wide variety of New England apples, old and new. By accepting the occasional blemish, you help the apple grower as well.

* * *

Empire apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Empire apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Empire is a gorgeous apple: round, medium-sized, deep red in color, with occasional gold or green highlights. A mid-season apple, it is ready for picking now.

Empires have some tartness, but their flavor is sweeter than McIntosh, not surprising since Empire is a cross between a Mac and Eastern Red Delicious. Empires have a juicy, crisp white flesh, and they do not bruise easily. Developed in the Empire state at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, in 1945, and introduced commercially in 1966, Empires are a great fresh eating or cooking apple. Here is a recipe featuring them.

Apple Oatmeal Bars

1 c whole wheat flour

¾ c oatmeal

¾ c brown sugar, packed

½ c butter, melted

½ c sugar

2 t cornstarch

1 c water

1 t vanilla

4 c Empire or other New England apples, cored, unpeeled, sliced

Melt butter and mix with flour, oatmeal, and brown sugar until crumbly. Press half of this mixture into a greased 9-inch pan. Place apple slices on top.

In a small saucepan, combine water, vanilla, sugar, and cornstarch. Cook until it is a clear, slightly thickened sauce. Pour this over the apple slices. Top with the other half of the crumb mixture.

Bake at 350˚ for 45 minutes. Cool before serving.

* * *

Golden Delicious is one of many New England apple varieties that ripen in late October. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Golden Delicious is one of many New England apple varieties that ripen in late October. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

APPLE PICKING is in full swing, and will remain so for the rest of October at most New England orchards. Visit our New England Apples website to find a list of pick-your-own orchards, or those that have farm stands (by clicking the link Orchards By State), and call ahead to find out what’s ready for picking.

The short video below provides some suggestions on how to prepare for and enjoy your visit to the orchard.

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