After Apple-Picking

Stuff Aesthetic Fascists Like: There is not another fruit that I love more than the apple. I am aware of its health benefits, which reinforces the adage about “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but the taste, above all, makes me loyal to this member of the rose family. Of course, apples are delicious on their own. They pair nicely with cheese or peanut butter. They yield a fantastic drinking cider. And they sweeten baked goods. The facts are staggering: there are 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the United States and 7,500 grow around the world. With so many choices, this apple-lover has picked (pun intended) three favorites.

Jazz

feature.jpg Jazz provides the best evidence yet that modern apple development is pulling ahead of the traditional heirloom varieties. Jazz is a crisp hard apple with an excellent strong sweet-sharp flavor, and a pronounced fruity pear-drop note.  The flavor undoubtedly puts it in the first rank of apples, and it is hard to think of a traditional variety that can compete with it. Jazz  was developed in New Zealand in the 1980s. It is a cross between two other major apple varieties – Braeburn and Gala.  This ancestry means that (like many of the best modern apples) Jazz inherits qualities from Cox’s Orange Pippin. The butter-yellow flesh is juicy, crisp and dense.

Honeycrisp 

Honeycrisp is a modern apple variety, developed in the 1960s and introduced to the market in the 1990s – sometimes trademarked as Honeycrunch. It is increasingly available in supermarkets. Honeycrisp comes from a long line of apples developed by the University of Minnesota from the 1930s onwards. One of the objectives of this breeding programme has been to develop varieties which can tolerate the bitter cold of winters in some parts of the USA, and most plantings have been in the northern USA, including New England, Minnesota and Washington State. […] The flavour is sweet with very little trace of acidity and little depth or complexity. There can also be a trace of pear-drop flavour. In a good example this is a juicy and instantly refreshing apple, in a less good example it will be simply sweet and bland (but still very nice).  As its name suggests this is genuinely a crisp / crunchy apple.  However since the flesh is quite light, the crunch is surprisingly soft, nothing like the hard crisp crunch of a good Golden Delicious.

Tentation

Tentation is a modern variety from France, derived from and very similar to Golden Delicious. The appearance is quite striking, being a light golden green apple with an attractive orange flush. The flavour is sweet and mellow.

It is apropos to conclude this blog post with Robert Frost’s poem.

After Apple-Picking

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,

Or just some human sleep.

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