When the summer comes to an end, and we are still harvesting quite a lot of tomatoes, vegetables, and grapes, and the sights of sweet corn and the last of the peaches are about to be gone, the first early season apples sneak their way into the mix. We always have aspirations of creating a single post for each apple we grow, to shine the spotlight on it a bit, but the end of August harvest time just gets a little bit…crazy? So we’ll so the best we can to start here, and see how the rest of the season goes!
Many of you come to the market each day and ask about a certain variety that you love more than any others, like the Pink Pearl, Hidden Rose, Esopus Spitzenberg, and Black Twig, and it’s so inspiring to hear you all mention apples that are unique and unusual and not universally grown locally- we love that! But this year we would like to ask a little bit more of you all than just your enthusiasm.
You all know how we lost our entire stone fruit crop this year- the peaches, nectarines, apricots, and plums- and that was just, well, super sad! No way around it! ALSO, a lot of our apple varieties were also hit pretty hard by the vast and quick changes of weather this season. Some apples varieties had damage during the freeze back in April, and many other varieties were affected by the intense heat of the summer season. So there are some apples that you might remember from years past that might not even make an appearance at the market this season at all, and many varieties that you are used to seeing copious amounts of will show up at the market for only one or two days. On the whole, our apple crop this year is smaller, and in some cases, the quality of the fruit, the taste and texture, might be quite different that what you are used to.
So we ask that you approach this fall harvest season with some patience.
AND, if you’re kind of nerdy like us, maybe some curiosity.
After all, Mother Nature is full of mystery. The combination of weather and changes in the environment are affecting all of us, and each year we learn a little bit more about these variables and how to farm and work and live better in response to them.
So we hope that you can stay enthusiastic, even when things don’t quite work out…and maybe even adopt a little bit of our own style of farmer’s optimism, and enjoy what we do have, and think good thoughts for next year.
Without further ado, here are some of the first varieties of our apple season for 2016.
You guys LOVE this apple!! Everyone asks, every year, “when, when when….are they coming??” Well this year, we only had a few, (in fact, they’re already gone!) and although they were good and tart and very hard, they didn’t quite color up like we’re used to. This apple has its origin in Humboldt County, California, in 1944. It was developed by a gentleman named Albert Etter, a farmer and plant breeder. Etter’s style of plant breeding was pretty eccentric, some would call him more of an inventor or mad scientist even, and he had a particular fascination with pink-fleshed apples. The Pink Pearl was as seedling one of thirty crosses from the pink-fleshed apple called ‘Surprise’, which is an apple that is believed to be a descendant of Malus niedzwetskyanna, which is a pretty ancient and now endangered variety of apple that produces red flesh, red skin, and red flowers.
Gala is a favorite, sweet, all purpose apple, probably playing the starring role in a lot of Hudson Valley school lunchboxes. Kids love them! On the smaller side, sweet and crunchy but not too hard, and easy to eat. The Gala comes to us from New Zealand, released in the 1920’s by a an orchardist named J.H. Kidd, and it is a cross of a Kidd’s Orange Red (sound familiar to any of you…??) and a Golden Delicious. More than a few of our customers have told us that the Gala is excellent for dehydrated apple rings. We still have quite a few at the market right now.
Kidd’s Orange Red
One of the parents of Gala, also released in 1920’s New Zealand by J.H. Kidd, the Kidd’s Orange Red is a cross of Delicious and Cox’s Orange Pippin. We had only a handful of these this year, and they’ve already come and gone.
Proclaimed by Mikee the Baker at Tivoli Bread & Baking as THE BEST PIE apple we grow, the Swiss Gourmet has made an appearance in almost every winning pie of our annual Apply Pie Contest. With its somewhat petite size, and waxy, ever-so-slightly russeted, yellow skin, the Swiss Gourmet doesn’t seem to wow you guys with it’s beauty. We often find ourselves directing the bakers among you to this apple, and only convince you after a taste, which has the perfect sweet-tart complexity for a pie, and the apples really hold their shape nicely. We think its appearance is quite lovely, and it’s actually quite excellent to eat fresh. In Europe this apple is known as Arlet, and it is a cross of Golden Delicious and Idared. We still have quite a bit at the market…just in time for our Apple Pie Contest…?
OH, the Honeycrisp. What to say? We sometimes don’t like to admit how much we like eating these insanely sweet, explosively juicy apples, because frankly, they seem to steal the spotlight from all of the other apples we grow! We can’t even say that you guys love them, it’s more like an obsession. But that’s okay. We get it. This apple is a seedling of Keepsake (Noelle’s most favorite-est apple…) and was released from Minnesota in 1991. Not that long ago! Anyhoo, it’s totally yummy, and we know there’s not much more we can say on the subject. If you’d like more details on the history of this apple, and an idea of what to do with it besides just gobbling it up, read Marni and Noelle’s post on The Applesauce of Love and Hate. And YES, we still have them at the market. Sheesh.
McIntosh! The tried-and-true. The original, the one-and-only, the old-fashioned love of our life. This apple definitely plays a starring role in our collective childhoods, with it’s kind of tough skin, and tart, almost green flesh. I remember spitting out the skin more than once, and just loving the taste and texture of the not-too-hard inside. My mom always made her famous apple crisp with McIntosh, and although the modern chef would scoff at such an idea, I still LOVE an apple crisp full of mushy, shapeless, DELCIOUS McIntosh apples. Talea always says that when you are making a pie, whatever variety you choose, you should always add in one McIntosh for flavor, because the McIntosh just melts around all the other apples and adds the perfect hint of tartness.
This icon of New England apples actually comes from Canada, where it was found as a wild seedling on the farm of John McIntosh. He transplanted the tree so it would be closer to his house, where it enjoyed a kind of fame among the locals. He began selling seeds and seedlings, not knowing that apples don’t grow true from seed. He was finally taught the art of grafting by his sons, around 1825, which allowed the variety to become more widely cultivated. The original McIntosh tree passed away in 1910, at 100 plus years old.
The McIntosh is the national apple of Canada, having been popularized by William Tyrel Macoun, a horticulturalist of the Central Experimental Farm in Ottowa. This gentleman’s name should sound familiar, as a certain new apple variety, a cross of McIntosh and Jersey Black, was named after him in 1923. The McIntosh finally caught on in the U.S. after a particularly cold winter in the early 1930’s damaged the majority of the Northeast’s previously favorite apple, the Baldwin. Turns out, McIntosh apples love cold weather.
McIntosh are terrific RIGHT after they’ve been picked, after which they begin to break down is storage, and the flesh gets soft. Come by and taste one this week to see how good they can be, and leave your ‘supermarket apple’ prejudices behind!
What a beautiful name for an apple! Mother is of unkown parentage, and has its origin in Bolton, Massachusettes, in the 1840’s. It is dense, sweet, and the skin a pine-like taste. We have only a few of these apples every year, and so far we think they are just best for eating and experiencing fresh, as they don’t store well, and we’ve not quite gotten around to baking a pie with them. Yet!