Have you ever wondered what old fashioned apples taste like? Because apples do have different tastes and different uses.
All of us are familiar with the "normal" supermarket apples: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Macs, Galas, Granny Smiths. Some apples are commercial but more regional: Cortlandts, Macoun, Paula Red, Empires, Northern Spy. Some apples are becoming national in scope: Honeycrisp, for example.
Some apples, for one reason or another, you just don't find unless you are very, very lucky. Why lucky? Because there are varieties out there that can't be grown commercially that easily: they are shy bearers, they are susceptible to disease, they don't ship well, or some other similar reason.
Saturday I was very, very lucky. I found heirloom apples for sale in two places - one where I hoped I would find it, and the other in a place I never would have expected.
Driving through the Cornell University campus, we saw a commercial apple building open for business. We normally visit the campus in mid spring when trees are in bloom, and we, in all the years we've gone up to Ithaca, never even knew this Cornell stand existed. But it was quite busy, a good sign. It didn't take much convincing to get my spouse to stop. We parked and went in.
In addition to many commercial apples (many of them available for tasting - from bushel baskets, where you could grab a cull apple and eat it for free - not little pieces with toothpicks stuck in them) there was a display off to one side, of heirloom apples. (These were NOT available for tasting and some were in very limited supply.)
I dug right in, buying some Chenango Strawberry. I'll finally be able to eat them and - yes, they smell like strawberries.
The other place was the Ithaca farmers market. There, we found a stand that had commercial varieties on one side and heirlooms on the other. We were able to taste (in small bites) the heirlooms and bought several different types.
One was Cox's Orange Pippin, and it was so good. The flavor was - well, it was just bursting with flavor, a type of flavor I can't quite describe.
We were looking for a good eating apple, and regretfully passed up a variety called a Thornberry. The distinctive flesh was pink-red in color! It was a bit too tart for my liking, though.
There was a Hudson Gold Gem apple, a russet type (brown skinned), that had a very pear like taste. There was a smaller brown apple too and I can not remember its name.
There was Pixie Crunch, which was about as crisp as an apple can get. (I bought several of those, too.)
I now have a refrigerator bursting with apples.
What apples do you have in your supermarket? Have you grown heirloom apples? Can you buy heirloom apples locally?