I went to our local CRFG chapter’s annual apple tasting yesterday. I’ve gone every year for the last four years. It’s interesting how the same cultivar can taste sooooo different from year to year. And the growers also say it’s difficult to have all the apples there at the peak of ripeness, of course, so some are a underripe, some a little old and some don’t make it to the tasting if they don’t keep. This year there were only 64 types-- some years there are almost twice as many. And lots of antique and obscure apples, all grown in the area.
I took notes and I’m going to share a few of them in case it’s useful for anyone—maybe for people wondering what different cultivars taste like in different geographical areas, or what grows well in the Santa Cruz area. This year my favorites were very different than last year. I should mention, though, that I do tend to like the sweeter end of the apple spectrum, as long as there is good flavor.
Pomme Gris was a surprise to me. It was very aromatic, like perfume, with sweetness and a mysterious background flavor. White Winter Pearmain was delicious, and I’m glad that I grafted a lot of it last year! Cameo was almost insanely perfume-y and sweet. I kept checking that it was really Cameo, since I’ve never had one with such a flowery taste, but one of the growers said it was just at its peak flavor. Ambrosia was slightly watery but still in my top handful for the heady bouquet. Esopus Spitzenberg was good–now I understand why people like this one! I’d heard a lot about Goldrush, too, and it was nice but a little too mild in the flavor department. Macoun was one of the best, glad I’ve got some grafts. HP-106 tasted like honey, really good. Allen’s Everlasting had a vibrant, jazzy taste. It has won in the overall voting in previous years. C-6-216 (don’t know what the numbers refer to) was delicious too. Rubaiyat was later in the sequence (they arrange them from sweet to tart, although of course there are some that are both) meaning that it might be tart or astringent, but it was delicious AND sweet, and had a heavy honeyed taste.
I also had some fresh apple juice made mostly from arkansas black and one other unknown apple (this was part of the larger harvest festival, not under CRFG’s aegis–otherwise they would have known the apples!). It was very different from most apple juice in that there was almost no tanginess, nothing tart. Very rich, though–it reminded me of drinking Pedro Jimenez sherry, the feeling that there are about a thousand fruits condensed into every drop… yum!