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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 11:32 am 
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Yes indeed, everything that New Yorker article says is true. Into the early 1900s, apples were basically a local thing. There were literally thousands of varieties, and each region had their own collection of favorites. Since most people stayed close to where they were born for their whole life, few experienced regional favorites outside of their own neck of the woods. In the 1920s, cross-country shipping became practical. Suddenly, people could have apples from the other side of the country, apples they had never been exposed to. But instead of leading to a mingling of thousands of apples, this development led to a coalescing of varieties. A few apples were favored by grocery stores for their ubiquity, ease of growth and storage, and for shipping well. As the article points out, by the mid-1900s, all those thousands and thousands of apple varieties had basically boiled down into the McIntosh and the two Delicious varieties.

The situation isn't much better today. Most supermarkets have added the ubiquitous Fuji, and probably Granny Smith and Braeburn. It's a far cry from the old days when there you couldn't keep track of the myriad of apples out there. Now to be fair, it's certainly true that plenty of these old varieties were nothing to write home about. Try eating something like an Arkansas Black and you'll quickly understand why a lot of these old apples were cider-only apples. But there are so many gems of old whose disappearance from mainstream view constitutes culinary tragedy. Baldwin, Cox's Orange Pippin, Golden Russet, Calville Blanc d’Hiver, Ashmead's Kernel... these apples are so ridiculously superior to the tiny handful of varieties that most shoppers know, it's almost like we're talking about a whole different food altogether.

The article also brings up the Honeycrisp revolution. The New Yorker ain't joking when it says Honeycrisp is popular. It has made the University of Minnesota, which held the patent on the apple until 2008, a mint. Honeycrisp is inarguably the most successful developed apple variety (i.e. non-naturally occurring) of all time. People go gonzo for it, allowing markets to charge a hefty price premium on the apple. The premium isn't enough to put people off. I've seen stores with huge banners outside trumpeting: "We still have Honeycrisp!" well after the apple's season has passed (which should be a warning to shoppers that this store's Honeycrisp are being shipped in from out of state). Markets like Honeycrisp because it's a fabulous keeper (it can last into April, although beware - its flavor becomes sickeningly sweet late in the season). Shoppers like it because it's so much better than the crap that is usually foisted upon them. My personal opinion is that Honeycrisp is probably the best out-and-out sweet apple around, but it's probably a little overrated and not worthy of its elevated price. Don't get me wrong - it's a great apple, and it's a must-buy if your preferences tilt towards the sweet side, but there are superior varieties available at half the cost if you're willing to search for them.

The article also references the successor to Honeycrisp: SweeTango. This is going to be the new rage. Already, I'm seeing supermarkets that carry Honeycrisp starting to carry SweeTango, too (boosting their available varieties to a whopping eight). If you've checked my ratings, you know my feelings on SweeTango - I consider it to be one of the worst varieties out there, worsted only by Rome and Red Delicious. It has none of the flavor burst of its parent, Honeycrisp, nor any of the spiciness of its other parent, Zestar! (both U of M-developed apples). Perhaps my disdain for SweeTango revolves around the fact that the ones I've sampled have been shipped in from Washington state. Apples picked to ship are picked early to increase their lifespand, and sealed in wax to keep in moisture and protect them over great shipping distances (that wax can also seal in pesticides and other pollutants, unfortunately). The result is a crummy-tasting apple. A SweeTango fresh from the farm might be a totally different experience, and one I'll be sure to try if I'm ever in Washington State.

I would love to see consumers inspired to seek out new apple varieties by their pleasant experience with Honeycrisp and/or SweeTango. Unfortunately, I'm not seeing that. Pretty much all shoppers that I know stick to their one local supermarket, and whatever that supermarket happens to sell represents the beginning and end of their food selection. Supermarkets know this, so there is little incentive for them to branch out beyond the few ubiquitous apple varieties they carry (or to branch out in any other food area, for that matter). So it's going to remain up to the consumer to decide if he/she has the patience and resolve to seek out superior local food sources. The reward is infinitely tastier and healthier food. If apple-seeking serves as the gateway to that world of better food, more power to the apples!

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:27 am 
Ghosts wrote:
This is how to eat apples.
My wife made it from scratch for Thanksgiving, using Staymen Winesap apples. Yum.


That pie looks delicious. It's been a very long time since I've had any home made apple pie.

My wife recently purchased some apple pie flavored chewing gum. I was truly amazed at how much a little piece of gum could actually taste like apple pie.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:55 pm 
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Apple #112: Crimson Gold
Image

At long last, a new apple to taste-test! This version of Crimson Gold should not be confused with the 1950s apple of the same name, one of Albert Etter's creations (read more about the Ettersburg apple legacy). The Crimson Gold tested here is a new variety coming to us from the Czech Republic. Over there, it is known as Svatava (which I think is a much cooler name, frankly... I lose track of all the apples with "Crimson" and "Gold" in their names, let alone those combining both those words).

Modern Crimson Gold is a well-sized apple, neither runty nor gigantic - one apple is perfectly sized for an after-meal snack. The apple has a nice crunch to it, as well. It's not nearly to the levels of the crispest apples out there, like Arkansas Black, but neither is it off-puttingly mushy. The flavor is a mild sweet-tart. A lot of apples advertised as "sweet-tart" are 95% "sweet" and only 5% "tart," but Crimson Gold manages to mix the two tastes in more equal measure. The downside is that the flavor isn't particularly strong. There's enough there for a pleasant bite, but the aftertaste doesn't stay with you. If the flavor was stronger, we'd have a real winner on our hands. As it stands, Crimson Gold is still a solid apple that is worth trying.

John's Rating: 6
Overall Ranking: #31

The master apple ranking list on page 1 of this thread has been updated! There have been a number of position shifts since my last post. We're just now entering apple season, so this is the time to get to your local orchard with a copy of my rankings in hand and hunt down some of these apples for yourself! Don't you dare buy grocery store apples during apple season!! :-#

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:23 pm 
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Apple #113: WineCrisp

Hard to expect much from the lovechild of no-name apples like "Rock 41-112" and "PRI 841-103," and WineCrisp doesn't rise much above expectations. There's a hint of something deeper in the flavor here. Maybe it's the Cox's Orange Pippin or Jonathan coming through (both are part of WineCrisp's development line). Too bad the watery aftertaste spoils most of the fun. At least the apple boasts nice firmness. It's a fairly average apple that's inoffensive, good for those weaned on Delicious apples who want to branch out without taking too many risks.

John's Rating: 3.5
Overall Ranking: #51

Apple #114: NY 75414-1 (NY 414)

Macoun has its fans. If you're one, you may appreciate the descriptively titled NY 75414-1. Me, I find Macoun types to be virtually tasteless, and that holds true here, too. Not hard to see why this one hasn't earned a name; it ain't worthy of one.

John's Rating: 1.5
Overall Ranking: #96

Who cares if they ain't that great? New apples! Two in one day! Hot diggity! :geek:

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:58 pm 
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Apple #115: Eve

Eve (also known as Mariri Red) is a product of New Zealand. That's already a ding in my book, because it means it has to be shipped, and that means being picked too early and coated in wax so that it won't rot before it reaches your supermarket. Eve is a sport of Braeburn, an apple I'm quite fond of. There's some of that Braeburn crunchiness in Eve, but you sure can't tell the connection via flavor, because Eve has little to none. Watch out for this dud of an apple. It's hitting supermarkets around the country as a specialty "club" variety, and they're charging a pretty penny for it. It ain't worth it, not by a long shot.

John's Rating: 1
Overall Ranking: #108

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 12:18 pm 
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Apple #116: Keepsake

You may not be familiar with the name "Keepsake," but you're almost certainly familiar with its far more famous child: Honeycrisp. Both are products of the University of Minnesota's agricultural program (another win for the Golden Gophers!). A bite into Keepsake gives you a clue as to where Honeycrisp got its pleasing sweetness. Indeed, if you're a fan of sweet apples, I would jack up the rating on Keepsake and actively seek it out. I'm more of a tart apple guy myself, but I appreciate a good sweet apple, and Keepsake is not bad at all. It's biggest drawback is that it's a bit on the soft side.

John's Rating: 4
Overall Ranking: #48

Apple #117: Margil

My bad rating should come with a caveat. This apple was imported from New York. Margil is a very old English apple that boasts a fine reputation, so maybe the distance traveled diminished the final product. Unfortunately, I have to go on what I tasted, and what I tasted is the proud continuation of the British passion for bland foods (forgive me, Nigel!). Margil is even more tasteless than McIntosh, and that takes some doing. Until I sample a fresher Margil, I simply cannot recommend this apple to anyone.

John's Rating: 1
Overall Ranking: #109

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:53 am 
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This is some intense apple intel. I read this all at work one day, I never knew there was so much to know about apples ! Sadly I have some poor-rated galas in my fridge at the moment. I have two farmers markets in close proximity, I will have to see what else is out there. I am certainly in agreeance with your assessment of Red Delicious. Gross.

Question for you ... I have recently started tracking all the food I eat in order to improve my overall fitness. Most things I read say to avoid sugar at all costs in a diet. Perhaps I am naive but when I think sugar I think candy, etc., yet apples have sugar too. I assume this is per say a "good" kind of sugar and the health benefits obviously outweigh the small amounts of sugar ?

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 9:29 am 
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Badgers wrote:
Question for you ... I have recently started tracking all the food I eat in order to improve my overall fitness. Most things I read say to avoid sugar at all costs in a diet. Perhaps I am naive but when I think sugar I think candy, etc., yet apples have sugar too. I assume this is per say a "good" kind of sugar and the health benefits obviously outweigh the small amounts of sugar ?

Great question, and you'll get a different answer depending on who you ask. There are some out there who will tell you to avoid all fruit for precisely the reason you suggest: sugar. I strongly disagree with that viewpoint. First, sugar in fruit is a complex carbohydrate, as opposed to the simple carbohydrate that is refined table sugar. Second, in addition to sugar, fruit provides fiber (assuming you're eating the peel... you are eating the peel, aren't you?). Fiber slows the absorption of fiber and prevents that "sugar spike" that you get when eating refined sugar (the thing that gives you a jolt of energy and then quickly leaves you hungry for more sugar).

Finally, I believe those suggesting avoidance of fruit for fear of sugar are doing people a disservice by swaying them from superb sources of vitamins and nutrients that many of us are missing in our daily diet. There's way too much nutrition in fruit to avoid it on account of some sugar, especially when it's being moderated by filling fiber. And for the record, apples are a particularly low source of sugar and high source of fiber amongst fruit options, so if you're nervous about sugar but don't want to give up fruit, you really can't pick a better option than a tasty apple.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:02 pm 
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Cole in the past 8 months I've dropped 20* pounds and during that time have eaten more fruit than ever before. What I eat during the time between breakfast and dinner is basically salad and fruit. Including lots of apples. ;-D




*Actually I dropped 25 but then gained back about 3 or 4. So I'll stay 20.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:35 pm 
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Ghosts wrote:
Cole in the past 8 months I've dropped 20* pounds and during that time have eaten more fruit than ever before. What I eat during the time between breakfast and dinner is basically salad and fruit. Including lots of apples. ;-D

Congratulations, Mike! That's awesome! It's a great feeling, isn't it? I've been there myself, and I remember how great it felt to shed those excess pounds. Just like for you, fruit (whole fruit, not processed or in juice form) was a big part of the process. I hope this apple blog has been of some little help in your apple selection process!

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:46 pm 
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I've recently begun trying to reduce my sugar intake as well. The shocking thing to me was to find out how much sugar is in almost any sort of flavored beverage--not just soft drinks, but fruit juices as well! :shock:

I think that as John says, the other health benefits of fruits such as apples and bananas outweigh the downsides of the sugars in them. Just eliminate the liquid versions. ;-D

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:22 pm 
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John wrote:
Great question, and you'll get a different answer depending on who you ask. There are some out there who will tell you to avoid all fruit for precisely the reason you suggest: sugar. I strongly disagree with that viewpoint. First, sugar in fruit is a complex carbohydrate, as opposed to the simple carbohydrate that is refined table sugar. Second, in addition to sugar, fruit provides fiber (assuming you're eating the peel... you are eating the peel, aren't you?). Fiber slows the absorption of fiber and prevents that "sugar spike" that you get when eating refined sugar (the thing that gives you a jolt of energy and then quickly leaves you hungry for more sugar).

Finally, I believe those suggesting avoidance of fruit for fear of sugar are doing people a disservice by swaying them from superb sources of vitamins and nutrients that many of us are missing in our daily diet. There's way too much nutrition in fruit to avoid it on account of some sugar, especially when it's being moderated by filling fiber. And for the record, apples are a particularly low source of sugar and high source of fiber amongst fruit options, so if you're nervous about sugar but don't want to give up fruit, you really can't pick a better option than a tasty apple.


Thanks for the intel. I'm definitely not going to shy away from eating fruit due to sugar and yes, I do eat the peel too.

And props on the weight loss Mike, that's great. Keep it up. I lost around 30 to 35 pounds, but that was over the course of about four years or so from my heaviest point to where I am now, where health, fitness and nutrition are more or less my top priorities in life in training for baseball and football.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:52 pm 
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Funny thing was, I never looked heavy, it was all mainly a bit of a beer belly. Now though, by having only fruit and salad during the day, the beer belly is gone, I swim without being embarrassed, and still enjoy beer. In fact, I'm having one now.

John, how about a personal ranking of beer varieties?

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:37 pm 
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Ghosts wrote:
John, how about a personal ranking of beer varieties?

Would you believe that I have never had but a few sips of beer in my life? :oops: I do believe we have some beer aficionados amongst us, though. Practically anyone would be more qualified to judge beer than I.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:33 pm 
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John wrote:
Ghosts wrote:
John, how about a personal ranking of beer varieties?

Would you believe that I have never had but a few sips of beer in my life? :oops: I do believe we have some beer aficionados amongst us, though. Practically anyone would be more qualified to judge beer than I.


That's surprising, any particular reason for that? Is it alcohol in general you don't drink a lot of, or just beer specifically?

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