Archive | 10:51 am

Who Wants to Eat a Soft Apple?

14 Oct

I lived in Upstate New York until I went to college. Throughout my childhood and teenage years I would go hiking around my house, walk along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, and garden with my parents in our backyard.

Whenever I visit I’m amazed at how much undeveloped land there is compared to Boston. Living in the city has shifted my whole perspective on the value of growing up in a suburban-rural area (a big change from walking along the Charles River two steps from Memorial Drive). Going home, I realized how refreshed I feel seeing only trees and mountains in the distance.

So I grew up surrounded by an endless selection of apple orchards. Nothing fancy: no pears, peaches, or delicate pastries, but some of the orchards had over 30 types of apples and acres to get lost in. It was at one of these orchards a few years ago that I discovered my favorite variety: Ambrosia. Crisp, sweet, juicy, and versatile (great raw, baked in pies, as a compote on oatmeal or pancakes…).

When I planned on visiting home I knew it was prime apple picking time, so my sister and I made plans weeks ahead of time to visit an orchard. When we arrived we drove through the dirt and gravel roads to a greeter who handed us a list of apples we could pick, a map of the orchard, and a guide listing apple varieties and ribbon colors on the trees.There were 17 varieties to choose from on the ‘Now Picking’ list, but sadly Ambrosia was not one of them the day we visited. I’ll be honest, I spent a few minutes trying to track down the Ambrosia trees just to see if I could find an apple, but this was also a great opportunity to sample some new varieties.

My sister and I narrowed down what we sampled to our favorites: Cameo, Jonagold, and Mutsu (from left to right above). An absolute requirement for all the apples on this list is that they’re very crisp. I can’t enjoy a soft or mealy apple. So what’s the crispiest and most delicious apple we tried? Here’s what we found:

Cameo is a good simple apple. It is the crunchiest of the bunch and isn’t sweet at all. It reminded me of a basic dry white table wine.

Mutsu is also dry, but more tart than the Cameo. It’s similar to a Golden Delicious, only more delicious!

Jonagold was our winner. We loved the thin skin, pear-like flavor that was slightly sweet with a tart finish, and it’s very juicy.

We also picked a bunch of Northern Spy apples and they were perfect for the apple pie my mom made. It was good to be home!

What’s your favorite type of apple? Do you have a top choice for baking? 

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