[Sca-cooks] Apples....

Holly Stockley hollyvandenberg at hotmail.com
Sun Feb 7 05:57:45 PST 2010

> >Most period apple varieties tend to be sweet, and have russeted skin.  ...
> >Femke
> What varieties of period apples were you thinking of with those 
> characteristics?
I live close enough to Tree-mendus Fruit  (http://www.treemendus-fruit.com/) to be able to run down there periodically in the fall and buy a few of a LOT of different varieties - and a lot of them are period.  So my suggestions were sort of based on a comparative taste-testing.  Though it varies a LOT from year to year.  

So, Claire Blanc d'Hiver is a lot like a very sweet GingerGold or a Golden Delicious (more like the Ginger Gold, but those are harder to find).

Pearmains tend to, as a rule, be sweet and subacid.  

Snow (Fameuse) apples are like a Lady apple - without having to peel and core 90 thousand of the little things.  They're small, but they're not THAT small.  Though Fresh Market used to carry Lady apples, too.

The Russetting remark was also based primarily on personal experience.  Most of the period varieties I've gotten MY hot little hands on have tended to have more russetting than modern breeders would consider acceptable.

I also spent 8 years at a University that puts a LOT of time and effort into apple breeding and assessment.  Those of use who were under the auspices of the College of Ag and Nat Resources had ready access to piles of fresh apples every fall - as long as you were willing to stand there outside the Hort office with your arms and T-shirt filled with apples, listening to the researcher drone on about this years' tests.  

Remember that apples are open pollinated.  If you plant a seed from the apple you're eat, you'll get an apple tree - but the fruit it bears will not be much like the one you're eating.  It might be better - it might be sawdust with skin.  Apple trees planted from "pips" also often don't bear every year.  Maybe every other, maybe less than that.  So, in the interest of consistency and strain improvement, grafting has been practiced since at least Roman times.  Pips are still planted, in the search for interesting new varieties - though the crosses are usually deliberate.

Blame Johnny Appleseed for the plethora of American varieties, at least in part.  ;-)  1000's of them, most of which have never been named and might exist only as a single tree.  PLUS a lot of these crossbred with native crabs, leading to higher acid concentrations.

That, again, is a generalization.  There are scads of European (especially British) cider apples that are VERY high acid.  Not much sweetness at all.  (BUt good to eat with a little salt).  THey've been bred for the characteristic.  

But if you take the across the board, those apples not considered cider apples that were known in period and that are still around have a tendency to be sweeter than modern American styles.  It's a matter of taste.

And the fact that modern "pippin" varieties are tart doesn't really have any bearing on the period version.  The period varieties I've stried are invariable sweet and subacid

So I was going  with a short list of easily locatable modern apples similar in flavor, texture, and cooking characteristics to the period ones I've played with.  This is the long version.

(If I'm still here in Oct, maybe I'll do an period pippin tasting class.  ;-)



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