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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mum’s Apple Pie

Crust

3 c all purpose flour

1 t sea salt

1 T granulated sugar

1-½ sticks unsalted butter (cold)

⅓ c shortening (cold)

½ c ice cold water

one egg white

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

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

Filling

6 thinly sliced Cortland apples

½ c unsalted butter

3 T all purpose flour

¼ c water

½ c granulated sugar

½ c packed light brown sugar

1½ t cinnamon

½ t nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°.

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

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

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

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

Apple Rose Tarts

Preheat oven to 350°.

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

2 Cortland apples sliced thinly

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

1 T lemon juice (to help prevent browning)

Cinnamon sugar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Available in bookstores everywhere.

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

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

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

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Honeycrisp apples, Boothby's Orchard and Farm, Livermore, Maine (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

This will probably be the last weekend for picking late-season varieties like these Honeycrisp apples at Boothby’s Orchard and Farm, Livermore, Maine (Bar Lois Weeks)

THE LIST OF APPLES grown in New England that originated in Australia and New Zealand is short, with just two major varieties each from each country. But they are among the most well-known apples in the world. Three of the four are late-season apples, one of which, Granny Smith, is sparsely grown in New England due to its long growing season.

Find these and other mid- to late-season varieties at your favorite New England orchard. Visit New England Apples and choose “Find an Apple Orchard” to search by map, state, zip code, or variety.

Braeburn apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Braeburn apple (Bar Lois Weeks)

Braeburn is a slightly conical, late-season apple, crimson red overlaid on thin, yellow skin. Its yellow flesh is dense, aromatic, and juicy, and it flavor is nicely balanced between sweet and tart, with hints of citrus. Braeburn is good for both fresh eating and cooking, and it has three to four times as much Vitamin C as the average apple. It keeps well in storage.

Though it was widely planted through the 1990s, its popularity appears to have peaked. Braeburn was discovered on the farm of O. Moran in Nelson, New Zealand, in 1952 and named for the apple’s first commercial distributor, Braeburn Orchard. It is probably a seedling of Lady Hamilton; by some accounts, it is a cross of Lady Hamilton with Granny Smith.

Gala apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gala apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gala is a medium-to-large, conical, mid-season apple, red-orange in color with yellow highlights. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy. It is a sweet apple with hints of pear, and it is outstanding for all uses, especially for fresh eating.

It tends to have yellowish color early in the season and becomes a darker red-orange as the harvest progresses and in storage.

Gala was discovered in New Zealand in 1934, and introduced in the United States in the 1980s. It has since become one of the most widely grown apples in the world. Its complex parentage includes Cox’s Orange Pippin, Kidd’s Orange Red, Red Delicious, and Golden Delicious.

Royal Gala, a sport variety of Gala resulting from a mutant limb discovered at the New Zealand orchard of W. M. McKenzie, has deeper color than its parent.

Granny Smith apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Granny Smith apple                     (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Granny Smith has been the most popular green apple in the world since its arrival in the United States in the 1970s. Medium-sized, round, and slightly oblate, it has solid green color with an occasional pink blush (New England-grown Granny Smith apples are especially apt to have a pink or sometimes red blush).

Its white flesh is crisp and juicy, and its flavor is tart with hints of citrus. It is good for both fresh eating and cooking, and it stores well.

Maria Ann Smith, who emigrated from England to Australia, discovered the first Granny Smith seedling in the 1860s in a marsh on her property in Sydney. Its parentage is unknown, but it may be from the seed of a French Crab. It was first exported to England in the 1930s.

Granny Smith has reached its commercial peak but remains popular around the world. Only a few New England orchards have had success with Grannies, but as the climate warms, that number may increase.

Pink Lady apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Pink Lady apple (Bar Lois Weeks)

Pink Lady, also known as Cripps Pink, has a lot going for it: distinctive color, intense flavor, a beautiful shape, and a glamorous, campy name evoking the grenadine-laced cocktail of the same name, stirred by Della Street, perhaps, in a 1960s Perry Mason mystery.

Pink Lady is large, conical, late-season apple with a deep pink blush over green skin. Its cream-colored flesh is dense, and its flavor, more tart than sweet, is citrusy. It is good for both fresh eating and cooking. It holds its shape when cooked, and it stores well.

Originally named Cripps Pink, Pink Lady in 1989 became the first variety to be sold and marketed under a trademarked name. It was developed in the 1970s by John Cripps at the Department of Agriculture and Food in Western Australia. Lady Williams, an Australian apple from the 1930s, gives Pink Lady its characteristic shade. Its other parent, Golden Delicious, supplies its conical shape.

If the apple has too much of the green base coloring, Pink Lady reverts to Cripps Pink — the apple must be two-thirds pink to qualify for the premium name. To heighten pink color, some growers remove leaves from the tops of the trees to admit more light, or place reflective strips on the ground beneath the rows of trees to increase sunlight to fruit on lower branches.

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'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven PowellAUTHOR RUSSELL STEVEN POWELL, senior writer for the New England Apple Association, will talk about apples and read from his new book, Apples of New England, at four sites in the next five days.

Photographer Bar Lois Weeks, executive director of the New England Apple Association, will appear with Powell on Friday, October 24, at Lyman’s Orchards in Middlefield, Connecticut, and will co-present with Powell at the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, Connecticut on Saturday, October 25.

Here is the lineup:

Wednesday, October 22, 7 p.m.

Goodwin Memorial Library

50 Middle St., Hadley, Massachusetts

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Friday, October 24, 1 p.m.

Lyman Orchards

32 Reeds Gap Rd., Middlefield, Connecticut

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Saturday, October 25, 2 p.m.

White Memorial Conservation Center

80 Whitehall Rd., Litchfield, Connecticut

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Sunday, October 26, 2 p.m.

River Valley Market

330 North King St., Northampton, Massachusetts

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

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

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

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

ARKANSAS 

Arkansas Black apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Arkansas Black apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

KENTUCKY, TENNESSEE, or VIRGINIA

Ben Davis apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ben Davis apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

IDAHO

Idared apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Idared apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

ILLINOIS

Blushing Golden apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Blushing Golden apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

INDIANA

Goldrush apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Goldrush apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

Winter Banana apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Winter Banana apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

IOWA

Red Delicious apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Red Delicious apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

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

KANSAS

Stayman apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Stayman apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

MICHIGAN 

Opalescent apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Opalescent apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

PaulaRed apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

PaulaRed apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

NEW JERSEY

Maiden's Blush apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Maiden’s Blush apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

Winesap apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Winesap apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

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

Yellow Bellflower apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Yellow Bellflower apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

OHIO

Blondee apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Blondee apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

Holly apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Holly apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

Melrose apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Melrose apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

Rome Beauty apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Rome Beauty apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

OREGON

Hidden Rose apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Hidden Rose apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PENNSYLVANIA

Smokehouse apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Smokehouse apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

York apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

York apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

VIRGINIA

Ginger Gold apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ginger Gold apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

WASHINGTON

Cameo apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Cameo apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

WEST VIRGINIA

Golden Delicious apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Golden Delicious apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

Golden Supreme apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Golden Supreme apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

Grimes Golden apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Grimes Golden apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

WISCONSIN

Wolf River apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Wolf River apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

Judging will begin at 11 a.m.

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

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

AppleFest will continue on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

Fuji apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Fuji apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

Mutsu apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Mutsu apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

Shizuka apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Shizuka apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

Akane apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Akane apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

Sansa apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Sansa apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 11, 2 p.m.

Historic Deerfield

80 Old Main St., Deerfield, Massachusetts

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Monday, October 13, 11 a.m.

Boothby’s Orchard and Farm

366 Boothby Rd., Livermore, Maine

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

Williamsburg Historical Society

4 North Main St., Williamsburg, Massachusetts

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

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

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

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

Ananas Reinette apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ananas Reinette apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lady apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Lady apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

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

Orleans Reinette apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Orleans Reinette apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

Corail apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Corail apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

Gravenstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gravenstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

Red Gravenstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Red Gravenstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

Red Gravenstein was first cited in 1873.

Holstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Holstein apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

Zabergäu Reinette apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Zabergäu Reinette apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

Elstar apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Elstar apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

Karmijn de Sonnaville apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Karmijn de Sonnaville apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

Belle de Boskoop apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Belle de Boskoop apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 4, 1 p.m.

Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary

Wales Rd., Monson, Massachusetts

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

Tower Hill Botanic Garden

11 French Dr., Boylston, Massachusetts

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bramley's Seedling apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Bramley’s Seedling apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ribston Pippin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ribston Pippin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

Ashmead's Kernel apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ashmead’s Kernel apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

D'Arcy Spice apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

D’Arcy Spice apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

Knobbed Russet apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Knobbed Russet apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

Pitmaston Pineapple apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Pitmaston Pineapple apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

Howgate Wonder apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Howgate Wonder apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The University of Massachusetts Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown features more than 100 apple varieties, including many New England natives. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

The University of Massachusetts Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown features more than 100 apple varieties, including many New England natives. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

IT SEEMS ONLY FITTING to celebrate native New England apples on New England Apple Day Wednesday, September 3. The New England state commissioners of agriculture will be visiting orchards today to mark the official launch of the 2014 fresh harvest. While some early season varieties are picked in August, most of the region’s apple crop ripens in September and October, with New England’s favorite apple, McIntosh, traditionally available soon after Labor Day.

Although less than 2 percent of the national apple crop is now grown here, New England continues to have a strong apple industry and an even richer apple-growing heritage. Dozens of apple varieties have been discovered or developed on New England soils, and many flourish today. A number of them have had illustrious histories and were once among the most widely planted in the Northeast.

Baldwin (Massachusetts, 1740), Northern Spy (Connecticut, 1800), and Rhode Island Greening (Rhode Island, 1600s) were the nation’s most popular and well-known apples a century ago. They eventually were surpassed by newer varieties that were more marketable and easier to grow, but they still can be found at many New England orchards.

In the 19th century, two varieties whose names combine superlatives with the Massachusetts towns in which they were discovered, Hubbardston Nonesuch (early 1800s) and Westfield Seek-No-Further (1700s), were popular well beyond the New England region.

Hubbardston Nonesuch apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Hubbardston Nonesuch apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Hubbardston Nonesuch, also known as American Blush, is a large, late-season apple with heavy red streaking on yellow-green skin, with occasional russeting. Its dense, yellow flesh is juicy, and it has an exceptionally small core. Its complex flavor, more sweet than tart, is ideal for cider and fresh eating, although its flavor tends to fade in storage.

References to Hubbardston begin in the early 1830s, and it was popular throughout the Northeast for much of the 19th century. As late as 1905, S. A. Beach in the classic work, Apples of New York, recommended Hubbardston for commercial orchards. But it is a difficult apple to grow, and only survives as a rare heirloom despite its rich flavor.

Porter apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Porter apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Porter is another Massachusetts native that once enjoyed widespread popularity. A medium, round, early season apple, apple, it has a yellow-green skin with a peach-colored blush. Its cream-colored flesh is tender, aromatic, and juicy. Its flavor is sweeter than tart, and it retains its shape and flavor when cooked.

It was discovered by the Rev. Samuel Porter in Sherburne around 1800, and was grown locally until about 1850, when its popularity spread to Boston and it began to be cultivated in other parts of the country. Despite its virtues as an eating and cooking apple, though, it, too, proved too difficult to grow for sustained success.

In his 1922 book Cyclopedia of Hardy Fruits, Ulysses P. Hedrick wrote, “A generation ago Porter took rank as one of the best of all yellow fall apples. If the fruits be judged by quality, the variety would still rank as one of the best of its season, but the apples are too tender in flesh to ship, the season of ripening is long and variable, and the crop drops badly.

“Porter must remain, then, an apple for the connoisseur, who will delight in its crisp, tender, juicy, perfumed flesh, richly flavored and sufficiently acidulous to make it one of the most refreshing of all apples.” It is also known as Summer Pearmain and Yellow Summer Pearmain.

Tolman Sweet apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Tolman Sweet apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Tolman Sweet is a late-season apple, medium-sized, pale-yellow in color with a red or green blush. It sometimes has patches of russet, or a line running from top to bottom. Its white flesh is crisp and moderately juicy, and its unusual flavor is sweet and pear-like, but with some tartness. It is considered especially good in cooking and in cider.

Tolman Sweet may be a cross of Sweet Greening and Old Russet discovered in Dorchester, Massachusetts, but its origin is unclear. It was first cited in 1822, and it remained popular well into the 20th century. Its trees are exceptionally hardy, making it a good choice in Northern climes, but Tolman Sweet bruise easily, limiting its commercial appeal.

Sheep's Nose apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Sheep’s Nose apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Another old New England favorite is Sheep’s Nose, from Connecticut. Also known as Black Gilliflower or Red Gilliflower, its names refer to its pronounced conical shape and deep ruby color, respectively. Often a striking solid red in color, it can have patches of green. Opinions about its mild, sweet-tart flavor are mixed. While aromatic, its dense flesh lacks much juice, and it becomes dryer in storage. It is good in cooking, though, especially in applesauce.

Whatever its flaws, Sheep’s Nose has had a small but steady following for more than two centuries, having been cited in New England as early as the Revolutionary War.

Granite Beauty apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Granite Beauty apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Granite Beauty is a large, late-season apple, round, ribbed, with red patches and stripes over a yellow skin. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy, and it has a rich flavor, more tart than sweet, with hints of coriander or cardamom.

Zephaniah Breed, who named Granite Beauty, wrote in the late 1850s, “no orchard is considered complete here unless it contains a good share of these trees. A good fruit grower here says he would sooner do without the Baldwin than the Granite Beauty.”

Breed published this account of the apple in the New Hampshire Journal of Agriculture:

“Years ago, soon after the first settlers located upon the farm we now occupy, they paid a visit to their friends in Kittery (now Elliott), Maine, on horseback, that being the only means of conveyance then in vogue.”

When ready to return home, Dorcas Dow “needing a riding whip, she was supplied by pulling from the earth, by the side of the road, a little apple tree. With this she hurried her patient and sure-footed horse toward her wild-woods home” in Weare, New Hampshire, then known as Halestown.

“An orchard being in ‘order’ about that time, the little tree was carefully set and tended, and when it produced its first fruit it was found to be excellent, and Dorcas claimed it as her tree. When nephews and nieces grew up around her, the apple was called the Aunt Dorcas apple.”

As Dorcas grew older, her grandchildren gave the apple the name of Grandmother. In another part of the town it was called the Clothesyard apple.

Maine’s contribution to the apple world includes the heirloom Black Oxford and a newer discovery, Brock.

Black Oxford apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Black Oxford apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Black Oxford is Maine’s most famous apple, but like Brock it is little known or grown outside the state. Black Oxford is named for its distinctive dark, purple-red skin, with occasional green highlights and prominent white lenticels.

It is medium-sized and round, and its dense, white flesh has a tinge of green, and is moderately juicy. An all-purpose, late-season apple, its flavor is balanced between sweet and tart, and it is considered especially good in pies and cider. Its keeps exceptionally well, and its flavor becomes sweeter and more complex in storage.

According to George Stilphen, author of The Apples of Maine (1993), Black Oxford “was found as a seedling by Nathaniel Haskell on the farm of one Valentine, a nail maker and farmer of Paris in Oxford County, about 1790 and the original tree was still standing in 1907, the farm being then owned by John Swett.”

Brock apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Brock apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Brock, like Black Oxford, is a late-season apple. It is large, round or with a boxy shape, mostly red in color with a green or yellow blush. Its crisp, juicy, cream-colored flesh is mostly sweet, with a little tartness.

Brock is a cross between Golden Delicious and McIntosh, developed in 1934 by Russell Bailey, a longtime plant breeder at the University of Maine, and introduced commercially in 1966. It was named for grower Henry Brock of Alfred, Maine, one of the apple’s trial growers. The only variety developed at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension at Highmoor Farm in Monmouth, Brock has the same parentage as the Canadian apple Spencer, with distinctly different results.

Two recent New England apples that have enjoyed greater commercial success are Hampshire and Marshall McIntosh.

Hampshire apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Hampshire apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Hampshire is a large, late-season apple, nearly solid red in color, with crisp, juicy, cream-colored flesh. Although its flavor is less intense, Hampshire resembles McIntosh: more tart than sweet, tender flesh and a thin skin, and a rich aroma. It is a good all-purpose apple, and it stores well.

Hampshire is a chance seedling discovered in 1978 by Erick Leadbeater, then owner of Gould Hill Farm in Contoocook, New Hampshire. Its parentage is unknown, but it was found in a block of trees containing several varieties, including Cortland, McIntosh, and Red Delicious. It was released commercially in 1990.

Marshall McIntosh apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Marshall McIntosh apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Marshall McIntosh is a medium, round, early season apple with red skin and green highlights. It, too, resembles its McIntosh parent (its other parent is unknown) for its tender flesh, juiciness, aroma, and sweet-tart flavor. It ripens before McIntosh, though, and it has more red color

Marshall McIntosh was discovered in 1967 at Marshall Farms in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and originally propagated by Roaring Brook Nurseries of Wales, Maine.

Find orchards that grow these native apples – visit New England Apples and follow the link “Find an Apple Orchard” to search by state or variety.

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'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven PowellMORE INFORMATION about these and other apple varieties discovered in New England — such as America’s oldest named variety, Roxbury Russet (1635), and Davey (1928) from Massachusetts, and Vermont Gold (1980s) from Vermont — can be found in Apples of New England: A User’s Guide (The Countryman Press).

A new book by Russell Steven Powell, Apples of New England, includes photographs and descriptions of more than 200 apple varieties grown, sold, or discovered here, plus a history of apple growing in the region spanning nearly four centuries. Photographs are by Bar Lois Weeks, executive director of the New England Apple Association.

In addition to extensive research, Powell interviewed senior and retired growers and leading industry figures from all six New England states, and obtained samples of many rare varieties at the preservation orchard maintained by the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts.

A chapter on John Chapman (“Johnny Appleseed”), for the first time links him with another Massachusetts native, Henry David Thoreau, as the fathers of American wild apples, Chapman for planting them, Thoreau with his pen.

Apples of New England is intended for use by all apple lovers, whether they are visiting the orchard, farm stand, grocery store, an abandoned field or a back yard — or in the kitchen. The descriptions include detailed information on each apple’s flavor and texture, ripening season, and best uses, as well as age, parentage, place of origin, and unusual histories.

America's Apple coverPowell has worked for the nonprofit New England Apple Association since 1996, and served 13 years as executive director from 1998 to 2011. He is now its senior writer. He is the author of America’s Apple (Brook Hollow Press, 2012), a book about apple growing in the United States.

America’s Apple is now available in paperback for $19.95 as well as hard cover ($45.95). Visit Silver Street Media or Amazon.com to order online, or look for it at your favorite orchard or bookstore.

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Powell will read from and sign copies of Apples of New England in a presentation at the Keep Homestead Museum, 110 Main St., Monson, Massachusetts, this Sunday, September 7, at 1:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

 

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McIntosh apple ripening at Pine Hill Orchard in Colrain, Massachusetts (photo by Russell Steven Powell)

The McIntosh are plentiful but still a few weeks away at Pine Hill Orchards in Colrain, Massachusetts, but PaulaRed and Ginger Gold are already being harvested (Russell Steven Powell photo)

WHEN IT COMES TO APPLES, New England truly is a melting pot. In addition to the dozens of varieties discovered in the region, apples from across the country and around the world have flourished in New England’s climate and soils. We’ll be looking at the origins of some of New England’s best-known apples over the next several weeks.

There are only a handful of active apple-breeding programs left in the United States, at Cornell University in New York, the University of Minnesota, Washington State University, and a joint program of the University of Illinois, Purdue University in Indiana, and Rutgers University in New Jersey, known by the acronym PRI.

The PRI consortium has produced a number of cultivars that are grown in New England: early season apples Vista Bella (discovered in 1956; released commercially in 1974), Mollie’s Delicious (1948; 1966), and Pristine (1975; 1994), the mid-season CrimsonCrisp (1971; 2005), and the late-season GoldRush (1973; 1993).

Two other early season apples developed by PRI are Jersey Mac and Williams’ Pride.

Jersey Mac apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Jersey Mac apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Jersey Mac is a medium-sized, round apple with green and light-red patches on a dark-red skin. Beneath an occasionally tough peel, its tender, white flesh has a mild flavor that is more sweet than tart, with hints of strawberry. It can be used for both cooking and fresh eating. Its season is relatively short, as it does not store well. One grower calls Jersey Mac “a good choice for McIntosh lovers who are getting impatient waiting for the Macs to ripen.”

Despite its name and resemblance, though, Jersey Mac’s complex parentage does not include McIntosh. It is a cross between Melba, Wealthy, Rome, and Starr, an obscure, yellow-green apple from the 1920s known for its tart, juicy flesh. Jersey Mac was developed in 1956 at the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station in New Brunswick, and released commercially in 1971.

Williams' Pride apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Williams’ Pride apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Like Pristine, Williams’ Pride is an outstanding newer entry into the early season market, discovered in 1975 and released in 1988. It is a medium-to-large apple, slightly conical in shape with maroon-red color. Its crisp, juicy flesh is cream-colored, and it has a spicy, nicely balanced, sweet-tart flavor. It is an all-purpose apple especially good for fresh eating.

Like Jersey Mac, Williams’ Pride has complex parentage that includes Melba, Jonathan, Mollie’s Delicious, and Rome. It was named for Edwin B. Williams, long-time head of the disease-resistant apple-breeding program at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Two late-season apples from PRI are Enterprise and Suncrisp.

Enterprise apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Enterprise apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Enterprise is a round, medium-to-large apple, deep-red in color with prominent white lenticels. Its spicy flavor is more tart than sweet, and it is considered best for cooking. Its flesh, crisp at harvest, softens some in storage, and its somewhat tough skin develops a waxy coating, but it keeps exceptionally well.

Discovered in 1978 and released in 1990, its parentage includes Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Rome Beauty. Another variety credited to Edwin B. Williams, Enterprise was developed for disease resistance at Purdue. It is immune to apple scab and highly resistant to fire blight and cedar apple rust.

Suncrisp apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Suncrisp apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Suncrisp is a late-season apple that continues to develop its flavor long after harvest. A large apple, it has orange-red striping over a yellow skin. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy. More tart than sweet when picked, it becomes sweeter and develops a complex, spicy flavor in storage, where it can keep for up to six months. It is especially good for cooking.

Suncrisp was developed in the 1990s by Dr. Frederick Hough at the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station in New Brunswick from Gold Delicious, Cox’s Orange Pippin, and Cortland parents. The Suncrisp name is trademarked by Rutgers University.

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WITH THE FRESH HARVEST upon us, here is a simple, straightforward, and delicious way to get those apple juices flowing. Adapted from From A Monastery Kitchen by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette.

Apple Crumble

4 medium-sized New England apples, sliced

½ c flour

½ c whole wheat flour

⅓ c sugar

1 t baking powder

¼ t salt

½ t nutmeg

2 eggs

1 t cinnamon

3 T butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375°. Arrange apple slices in 9” round cake pan. Combine remaining ingredients except cinnamon and butter, and spread mixture loosely over apples. Stir cinnamon into butter and drizzle on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes until apples are done.

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'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven PowellApples of New England: A User’s Guide (The Countryman Press) is now out! A new book by Russell Steven Powell, it features color photographs and descriptions of more than 200 apple varieties grown, sold, or discovered in New England, plus a history of apple growing in the region spanning nearly four centuries. Photographs are by Bar Lois Weeks, executive director of the New England Apple Association.

In addition to extensive research, Powell interviewed senior and retired growers and leading industry figures from all six New England states, and obtained samples of many rare varieties at the preservation orchard maintained by the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts.

A chapter on John Chapman (“Johnny Appleseed”), for the first time links him with another Massachusetts native, Henry David Thoreau, as the fathers of American wild apples, Chapman for planting them, Thoreau with his pen.

Apples of New England is intended for use by all apple lovers, whether they are visiting the orchard, farm stand, grocery store, an abandoned field or a back yard — or in the kitchen. The descriptions include detailed information on each apple’s flavor and texture, ripening season, and best uses, as well as age, parentage, place of origin, and unusual histories.

Powell has worked for the nonprofit New England Apple Association since 1996, and served 13 years as executive director from 1998 to 2011. He is now its senior writer. He is the author of America’s Apple (Brook Hollow Press, 2012), a book about apple growing in the United States.

America’s Apple is now available in paperback for $19.95. Visit Silver Street Media or Amazon.com to order online, or look for it at your favorite orchard or bookstore.

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OUR THREE-PART video series on integrated pest management (IPM) concludes with a look at one of its five basic principles: how apple growers use a diverse combination of management tools to treat pests in their orchards that pose an economic threat, including the introduction of beneficial insects, and the use of pheromones to attract, distract, trap, or confuse would-be predators.

IPM, Part 1 examines how pests are prevented and identified.

IPM, Part 2 explores how New England apple growers monitor pest populations in their orchards and decide when to treat the predators threatening the apple crop.

The series was produced for the nonprofit New England Apple Association, with funding from Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement and the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, and its Division of Pesticide Control.

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PLUM CURCULIO, Oblique Banded Leaf Roller, and apple aphids are the featured pests as New England apple growers describe how they monitor populations in their orchards and decide when to treat the predators threatening the apple crop.

IPM, Part 1 examines how pests are prevented and identified.

IPM, Part 3 looks at the diverse combination of management tools growers use to combat pests, including the use of pheromones, beneficial insects, and weather monitoring.

The series was produced for the New England Apple Association, with funding from Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement and the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, and its Division of Pesticide Control.

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