We’ve been trying out some apples from Scott Farm in VT that have been turning up at a local grocery store. (Our own trees have a ways to go yet before they start bearing.)
Among the apples we’ve tried have been a few that seem to turn up frequently in best-tasting-apple discussions, including Cox, Esopus Spitzenberg, Karmijn de Sonnaville, and Orleans Reinette.
The Orleans Reinette was really terrific. In my wife’s words, it tasted like champagne, and the texture was right on, too.
Unfortunately, however, the others we’ve tried so far have been pretty disappointing. The Cox and the Spitzenberg both seemed like they were past their prime: flavor kind of washed out, texture softening and getting a bit mealy. In both cases, you could maybe taste the ghost of a great apple, but you’d have to be grading on a curve to say that what you were actually eating was even a good one. And the KdS was just bad: weird tasting and not in a good way. And again, kind of washed out and going mealy.
This experience made me curious about the things that can make a potentially great apple come out not so great. All the apples were from the same orchard, which seems to have a very good reputation. Maybe the Cox was just getting out of its season, but from what I’ve read, ES and KdS are both supposed to keep pretty well. Could it have been the unusually warm fall we’ve had here in New England? (Though KdS is supposed to like warmer weather, according to Orange Pippin.) Or the damp and not very sunny spring? Or possibly inadequate thinning of the fruit? All of the apples were very small, and the descriptions on Orange Pippin suggest that KdS should be fairly big and that ES and Cox can be larger.
Anyhow, the Orleans Reinette was pretty terrific, and that’s the one that we’ve got growing, so I’m happy about that.
PS: One apple that did live up (or down) to its reputation was the Black Gillyflower my dad picked up. The apple that eats like a potato…