Went running in the woods and decided to swing by an old pasture site where I remembered seeing some apple trees. It’s hard to tell whether the trees were planted deliberately in the first place. There’s a bunch of them there, but they’re kind of scattered around, not planted in orchard rows or anything. Some of the trees looked to be dead or barely hanging on, and few seemed to be carrying any fruit, but I did find a couple with some apples on them.
The first tree I sampled from actually had a good number of crab-sized yellow fruit (visually similar to Golden Hornet), but unfortunately the apples were over-ripe and gone soft. Gave one a try anyway, for the sake of science, but it was too tart-and-nothing-but-tart for my taste.
Then I found these guys.
They’re about two inches in diameter, and prettier in person than they look in the pictures. As you can see, there’s orange-red striping over yellow, with minimal russet. More red on the ones that were getting more sun. There was a fair amount of sooty blotch, which I wiped off for the big photo shoot, and what looks like it might be some minor scab damage. Some of the ones that I didn’t take home had some fairly minor bug damage, but overall they looked pretty good for a completely untended tree. The tree itself was kind of broken down, but appeared to be one of the healthier ones out there.
Do these apples look like anyone you know? If they’re a wild crab, as they probably are, they’re by far the best wild crabs that I’ve ever tried. (Not that I can claim to have particularly wide experience in that area.) For me, there’s something compulsively bite-able about wild crabs, even if you know you’re going to want to spit them out almost immediately. Kind of like the pleasurable pain of eating a hot pepper or jumping in a cold lake. These apples had the qualities I connect with that experience (hardness, tartness, and - in this case slight - teeth-tingling astringency), but tempered by enough sweetness and character of flavor to make them genuinely enjoyable to eat, not just fun to bite into.
Of course, this review is wildly biased by the fact that I climbed a rickety old tree on a beautiful fall day to snag them. That being said, I think I may need to get some tips on collecting scion wood next spring!