An Ode To The Apple

Apples In A Basket

It’s autumn again and along with the beautiful forest colors, changing of the clocks, and leaves to rake, autumn brings us apple season. Full disclosure; of the many fruits I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy apples are my favorite.

As a native New Yorker I will admit to a little bit of personal bias on apples. New York is a major apple-producing state and several popular varieties originated there. I grew up feasting on the local varieties popular in the 1960’s; McIntosh, Winesap, Rome, and Red Delicious.

I consider the McIntosh the queen of all apples. Fondly known as “Mac’s, they have the ultimate combination of wonderful crispy texture and tangy flavor that no other apple can match. These soft-skinned apples do not gain their best flavor until the first frost of the season sets them properly, which makes New York State the region best suited for growing them. Winesap is my close second favorite for their sharp winy taste. This is another variety that needs a good frost to help set the flavor. On the few occasions I’ve found them for sale these past several years the apples tasted flat, as if they’d been picked too early in the season. Regrettably, this tasty variety seems to be hard to find outside the New York state area.

Apple Chart
Apple Chart

Rome would be my third favorite apple. Their dark red skin bleeds color into the meat of these apples as they ripen which is a trait I always thought was pretty cool. They lack the crispy texture of Mac’s and the flavor is a bit bland for my taste, but still refreshing. Rome is another variety that sadly seems to be getting harder to find.

I never cared for Red Delicious apples. Truth be known, I always considered the label “Red Delicious” to be false advertising. They have a hard texture, tough thick skin, and a flat taste that I do not find appealing. I also don’t like their looks; heart-shaped with a footed base and a uniform dark red color. Not like the lovely blush-red colored orbs of Mac’s, delicately mottled with shades of light green even when fully ripe.

At least the Golden Delicious has their interesting yellow color going for them. Their taste still doesn’t match Mac’s, Winesap or Rome, but unlike their Red cousins they at least look pretty. Then we have some of the newer varieties that appear to be pushing out the apples I grew up with.

Foremost of these newer varieties would be the Fuji; an apple developed by Japan and foisted on a gullible American public. I consider Fuji to be Japan’s revenge for bombing Nagasaki. Fuji is a hard-textured apple with unappealing color and a watery, sickly-sweet flavor that leaves an unpleasant after-taste in my mouth. I eat them only when I can’t find any other varieties, and I mentally apologize to the God of Apples with every bite.

Gala is another variety that seem to be increasingly popular these past few years. They aren’t too bad overall. They have a hard texture with an anemic reddish-yellow tint and a flat sickly-sweet flavor just slightly better than Fuji. I don’t much care for them, but I’ll take them over Fuji any day.

It would be a sad world without apples. What would we do without apple pie, apple sauce, apple butter, Boon’s Farm Apple Wine apple cider, and the many health benefits apples bestow upon us that keep the doctor away? So I’ll savor Mac’s when I can find them, but I’ll continue to enjoy apples every chance I have.

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