Even though I love a good Cox-type or Golden Delicious type I do get a bit tired of those types as a great many of the best apples today are descended from those two. A similar type which I have many of is the Golden Russet type: yellow flesh, sweet and sour and not so aromatic.
Anyway while I still love my Rubinette and Kidds (Cox types), Hooples and Suncrisp (GD), Pitmaston and Ashmeads (GR), etc I want to have some other flavors in the mix. Here are a couple that stood out this year so far.
Zestar - Super fruity and super crisp. Its too bad it rots so much for me as that may rule it out long term but I’m going to keep it for a bit longer.
Blenheim Orange - My tree has never grown tall enough and the deer have been making a big mess of it, but the few I manage to fully ripen are awesome, a deep rich flavor hard to describe. This apple is not attractive with its dull skin, but it gets relatively few rots and has been consistently productive.
Wagener - This apple is a creamy fruit bomb when properly ripened, it tastes like a cross of grapes and apples. Its hard to get the right picking window though, early and its not so flavorful and late and they are getting mealy and fading.
Swayzie - When these are well ripened they have a breaking crunch almost like a piece of coconut, and a rich nutty flavor to go along with it. Love 'em!
Reine des Reinettes - Well these are something like Blenheim in flavor, very rich. But different enough that I’ll keep both of 'em.
This year has been a hard year on apples, too much heat fried a lot of varieties and I also lost a lot to animals. We are also about two weeks early with ripening due to all the heat. Freyburg usually is one of my favorite unusual varieties with its anise flavor, but this year I had to pick them too early as they were all disappearing. They need to hang until they are ready to drop if they are to have full flavor. Wickson is another very unusual flavor, but that one is now gone as it had too many growing problems. Margil is nutty some years but is not reliable at all for me, its likely a goner. Adam’s Pearmain is more reliably nutty but they got swiped this year right before they ripened.
One thing I forgot to add is I was hoping other people would add on any interesting apple flavors they got this year. I may add more here later as more things ripen and as I pull things out of storage. One apple that was pretty boring off the tree but was quite interesting after a month of storage was Reinette des Carmes.
Have you come across anymore uniquely flavored apples? Zestar was awesome this year after storing them a few weeks in the fridge. Storing those apples in the fridge for a few weeks develops the flavor in the skin. Closest flavor comparison is between a sweet cherry and a muscadine. The flavor is really something special and how I want all my apples to impress with their taste. I just wish the texture would hold up with storage. As you have mentioned, they want to rot.
I’ve ordered scion wood for most of the apples you referenced in order to graft next spring. I just lack Swayzie. Thanks for putting a list like this together. I want my taste buds to experience a depth of flavor and your list is a good start.
Off the top of my head, Abbondanza, Hunge, Wickson, and Black Limbertwig are a few more which are pretty unique.
I eventually removed Zestar! due to the rotting. It is too bad, when it was good it was super awesome.
You have the right idea on aging, to get the best flavor on most varieties you need to pick late (but not too late!), and age well. I try to take varieties to over-ripe on the tree and mealy out of storage so I know what too far is … for many apples I was nowhere near the right spot for too long, only when you overdo it can the sweet spot be known for sure.
I missed your recent post. I’ve grafted most of the varieties mentioned in one of your prior posts last year. I graft onto antonovka rootstock because it has done really well in my clay soil. Unfortunately, that means I have many years ahead of me before I’ll be able to taste your top rated apples. I’ll head to your recent post and add to the list of apples I’ll graft or buy for next year.
I am still a novice when it comes to getting the timing right for storage and eating the different apple varieties. Each year I apply the kaizen philosophy of incremental improvement and I get a little better at it
My Jonathan trees always seemed to produce a lot of apples. I had three trees of them at my old house. I liked cutting and freezing them to use all year long. I moved so I have not had Jonathan’s in many many years. Good cooking and eating apples.
Sweet16 is an different one, my kiddo calls it the DrPepper apple! Frostbite is another one that is truly unique, it’s got a wonderful crunch and sugarcane flavor. Both of those are probably best grown in zone 5 and lower. Some heirlooms I grow are pretty different than typical dessert apples in that they lack the subacid kick, but have a more mild richness to their flavor that makes the eating quality pleasant in another way- Blue Pearmain and Black Oxford are examples of that catagory.
Sorry it took me a while to get back to you. Yes, this is the Etter eden crab. I actually bought it from Greenmantle. We absolutely love it. It ripens earlier than wickson and is a little larger. Very similar flavor.