Adam's Apples
December 2, 2019 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Adam's Apples is a blog by someone who is a really big fan of apples. My favorite thing is dipping into any of the over 300 reviews of apple varietals, with loads I've never heard of like Evercrisp (honeycrisp x fuji mix?!), the Canadian Strawberry, or a three-star exceptional apple worthy of a quest: the Macoun. The best part might be the comments sections, where other fans of apples post their lengthy tasting notes as well.
posted by mathowie (30 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
The variety has to also be matched to the local climate and soil etc; the terroir .

A golden delicious or honey crisp are both disappointing when grown in conditions far from their breeding grounds.

Not too long ago you could go see THE Granny Smith tree outside of Sydney.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:27 PM on December 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Evercrisp are awesome btw, at least as seen at my local Aldi for a great price.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:28 PM on December 2, 2019

Trader Joe's had Lucy Rose recently. The review was correct: "This is a simple apple, pleasant but lacking nuance." An interesting looking apple, with a magenta interior.
posted by jjj606 at 3:32 PM on December 2, 2019

Looking forward to trying the Cosmic Crisp.
posted by Splunge at 3:32 PM on December 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh my goodness, so cool to see my very local farmers market featured!
posted by peacheater at 3:35 PM on December 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

What's the breeding ground for Red Delicious? Soggy phonebooks?
posted by SonInLawOfSam at 3:37 PM on December 2, 2019 [20 favorites]

I'm lucky to live near Black Diamond Farm, which has a ridiculous number of heirlooms. I look forward to Cox's Orange Pippin all year, and my most recent pie was mostly Calville Blanc D'Hiver.
posted by zamboni at 3:42 PM on December 2, 2019

Huh. My local PYO orchard has Macouns. I had no idea they were sought after. They're definitely delicious!
posted by selfnoise at 3:55 PM on December 2, 2019

On his blog, you have to go back to 2018 before being asked the definitive apple-related question
posted by lalochezia at 3:58 PM on December 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Man, that's a lot of different apples than you see at the store. Apples are good at being different though: can you grow apples from seeds?
posted by Bee'sWing at 4:01 PM on December 2, 2019

Soggy phonebooks?
It’s Madison county, Iowa.

So... sort of?
and I am a staunch defender of the Midwest, fwiw
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:15 PM on December 2, 2019

Thank you so much for this! I love apples, they are easily my favorite fruit. I love their history, their ubiquity, and their variety. I was lamenting that there was not an overview of the cultivars/varietals that I have come across since moving to rural Vermont, and this is just the ticket. For me, my consistent favorite after prime apple season are Empire. But, I bought a couple apples from a farmstand last week that were either Winner (?) or Macoun, and they were spectacular. I don't know why! I have bought apples there twice now, and each time the apples were some of the best I have had. So, you happen to be driving VT Rte 110, just on the north side of Chelsea is Chicken Wiggle Farm. They have an honor-system farm stand and some of the best apples I have encountered. Also: their spicy pickled carrots are fantastic, but zucchini relish is not (too sweet).

As an aside, I don't at all understand the love affair with McIntosh. They are great in pies, but I find the peel to be unpleasantly tough, and they lose their crunch soon after prime season. They are the most common local apple around these parts and I will take a Cortland or Empire over a McIntosh every time.

I eat between 6 and 20 apples a week, depending on how tasty the most recent purchase was. And I eat them properly! The only thing left are seeds. My favorite way to slice an apple is into latitudinal discs, so you get the pretty star pattern in the center. A pattern that I think many apple eaters have never even seen! There's a star in every one.
posted by pol at 5:11 PM on December 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

Looking forward to trying the Cosmic Crisp.

Did it today!

Absolutely stunning looking...VERY crisp and VERY juicy...slightly sour but definite Honeycrisp notes. Also a vague twinge of Red Delicious. 7.5/10 would slice again.
posted by tristeza at 5:27 PM on December 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

After reading his review of the McIntosh, I feel like I was eating an entirely different apple. I retract my critique of the cultivar pending further review.
posted by pol at 5:36 PM on December 2, 2019

The SweeTango entry isn't just the tasting but also cultivar drama.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:49 PM on December 2, 2019

I loved this blog, thanks so much for posting! This post about a mystery apple grown on a supposed Red Delicious tree purchased from Home Depot was my favorite. I have so many questions: what kind of person who loves apples enough to grow them on a tree in their yard buys a Red Delicious tree from Home Depot? What kind of orchard that sells trees to Home Depot would have both Red Delicious and Hoople's Antique Gold saplings with which to mix up? Is it really a Hoople's Antique Gold, or is it just a fucked up Red Delicious mutant offspring? (I am not a fan of Red Delicious, obviously.)

My husband, a non-gardener, loves McIntosh apples so much that he found and read this book, Grow a Little Fruit Tree, and proceeded to make an apple orchard in a little patch of our Minneapolis yard. We bought bare root tree saplings for $18 each from a nursery an hour outside of town, cut those saplings to knee height, and have been waiting for the past 3 years for them to produce a single apple. They grew like crazy this past year, so I’m hoping 2020 is the magic year for us. I read Adam’s reviews on the varieties we planted, and only Kinderkrisp was missing. It was good to see that he validated our apple selections, even if it’s clear that I love Haralsons way more than he does. And he loves Chestnut Crabapples! That was our only tree to blossom last year, so fingers crossed for success next year!
posted by Maarika at 6:25 PM on December 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

I like living in a place where there are a lot of apple trees growing wild - just random volunteers that sprouted from seeds. It's fun to sample them and see if you can find one that's worth collecting fruit from. They range from terrible to very good and you never know what it's going to be until you take a bite. (But in my experience the yellow ones are more likely to be good.) I'm guessing the apple tree in our yard is one of these random volunteers that the previous owners allowed to grow. It's pretty good, even if it's nothing people would want to buy at a grocery store. Some of the fruits are mostly green and some have a lot of red but none of them are terribly pretty. Quite tart and firm, a late bloomer and late ripener, browns very quickly. I've tried planting several named varieties of apples and none of them have survived long enough to bear fruit. So I'm glad at least we have this one.
posted by Redstart at 6:30 PM on December 2, 2019

The Macouns are the king of apples, but only for about three weeks late September-early October, fresh off the tree. I can't bear to eat their lesser shadows from storage. During their peak, I will buy ten or more per farmer's market weekend, and eat them all without effort.
posted by praemunire at 6:48 PM on December 2, 2019

So in the previous apple thread, I posted about not being able to Google the name of the cultivar that was given to me at an apple ID stand.

I check the tag archives of this blog and I realize it's extremely likely that it was given to me with an extra letter. So thanks for posting this - I now know what kind of apple tree my parents have!
posted by invokeuse at 6:48 PM on December 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Chuck Wendig started an epic apple review thread back in August and it's still going strong. Today's update reviewed the Gold Rush, saying it has a "lemon tartness balanced with a pear sweetness."
posted by whuppy at 7:28 PM on December 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

I've been pushing people toward the Rockit lately. About 1/3 the size of most apples, they are exactly the amount of apple commitment I generally want, and they have enough snap and sweet and tart and crisp to be basically a perfect amount of nearly perfect apple. I've been buying them for the house, but also to take to work (which is weird, people don't really do that where I work) but people have been eating them and declaring them wonderful. I'm hoping to inspire more apple eating with these great little apples!
posted by hippybear at 7:39 PM on December 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

When Fuji-san apples come into season in Japan, it’s like a ray of sunshine hitting the changing leaves at the end of the day. Such a perfect, wonderful apple.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:47 PM on December 2, 2019

There are 4 posts about the King David, the amazing apple I got to sample that one time!! But I think he didn't really get a very good one; the ones I got were quite small (the size of a large lime, at best) a deep scarlet-black skin with ultra crisp snowy white interior, and tart sweet balance. some had scarlet streaks. I dream about those apples on the perfect cheese plate.
I did get to try Macouns that time, also, and I recall them as being very nice, although they were a bit past their prime I think-- more sweet than crisp, but a lovely flavor. I made about 10 pages of notes on all the apple varieties I sampled, I'll have to dig that out. Thanks for the post and link!
posted by twentyfeetof tacos at 8:25 PM on December 2, 2019

i have eaten about 10lbs of ananas reinette so far this season and i am THRIVING

so pineappley
posted by poffin boffin at 9:34 PM on December 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

I do wonder who thought to name my current commercial favourite Pinova a Pinata in the US, but I agree with the review that it's a gorgeous complex apple with a lot of Cox's Orange Pippin flavour (aka best apple ever). And Lidl stocks it heavily in autumn, which I take advantage of.

It's fun how some European commercial varieties seem to be absent entirely - Champions (wine-flavoured) and Lobo (serviceable all-rounder) especially.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 2:46 AM on December 3, 2019

Where I am living now, my local grocery stores only carry the basic, commercial apple varieties (honeycrisp, etc), never any heirloom or lesser-known varietals. There are some seasonal fruit stands and farmer's markets that sometimes have more variety, but those have mostly wrapped up for the year.

In other words, I am jealous of all of you who have easy (or easier, at least) access to these apples. They are a treasure.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:39 AM on December 3, 2019

We inherited a Macoun tree in our yard. It took years to identify it, I thought it might have been Red Delicious at first or maybe Winesap. But finding the description of the Macoun there was no doubt. Everyone who tastes them agrees they are about the best apple they've ever eaten. It struggles here in Western Washington though. It gets hit hard by coddling moths, and this past season most of the fruit dropped before it was fully ripe. They are best very late in the season- late October and into November. None of the apples made it that far this year.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 11:09 AM on December 3, 2019

I grow apples in Wisconsin and I have lived in Minnesota a lot of my life and worked at MN orchards. I'm bitter about SweeTango! They taste great. Nice trees (unlike Honeycrisp). I would love to grow SweeTango but I am not in the club. Plus there are royalties to pay even if you are in the club. Meanwhile, in my local grocery store I see they are selling SweeTango grown in California and Washington. So, not the region it was bred for AT ALL. They are worried lil ol me in Wisconsin is going to screw up their brand, but not shipping in apples from the west coast. And they used my tax dollars to create that variety in the first place!

My ultimate true love apple is Regent. They need a little cold weather to develop their flavor and then once they do they are so yummy. And pretty. The skin is a little thick (Adam mentioned this in his review) but the thing is, I put a box in the fridge in late October and I am still eating good apples in February or March. They would potentially be good later than that but by then I have eaten them all. Honeygold (also reviewed by Adam) is another favorite that I have managed to store for quite a while, but they bruise very easily.

Something you may not know when selecting a ripe apple: the red color comes in before the apple is necessarily ripe. To really catch if it's ripe, look at the background color. Still green=under ripe. Yellow=ripe. I provided a visual:
posted by Emmy Rae at 7:47 PM on December 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Splunge: Looking forward to trying the Cosmic Crisp.

The Cosmic Crisp apple is not the future -- Focus groups, consultants and fungicides brought us the Cosmic Crisp. Is its taste worth the cost? (Salon, Dec. 29, 2019)

This foreboding article aside, I thought they were pretty tasty.

But my current favorite that is readily available (at least in grocery stores in New Mexico) is the Opal, which Adam also gushes over. Picked one on a whim, thanks to this post getting me to think about trying different apples, and it was a win.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:06 PM on December 31

I make a version of the discontinued Pepperidge Farms Apple Dumplings a few times a year, and a few times a year it's impossible to figure out what variety I should use. Last year I endeavored to make apple sauce out of as many varieties I could find, and I got up to about 3. I've done this testing for a few years, but I finally started taking notes this last time because I never remember a year later.

And I'm sorry. I know it's a corporate apple and focus grouped until I'm incapable of resisting it, even if only by learning its name, but this year Cosmic Crisp made the best apple dumplings of the last several years. Possibly since the last time I could find Pippin around here, which was a long time ago and maybe not even in this millenium. Tart and crisp raw, retaining that edge when it's cooked. I don't know how much they were, likely not more than $4/lb, which is fine compared to going to Whole Foods to get standard choices for $6/lb.

I didn't even know it was a new fancy apple, just that it was "Cosmic" something, and I didn't have any notes on me to tell me what to get. I'm glad I didn't, it's like a Pippin that can travel (if in fact not traveling well is what eliminated Pippins from my local selection). My brother mentioned an article he had read recently of this new fancy apple called Cosmic Crisp and I was able to say "hey that's what I got!" before learning of its ignominious origins. Oh well, those dumplings were so good I should have made another batch.
posted by rhizome at 1:24 AM on January 1

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