Apple Pageant

It is the apple to which I owe my sanity.

apples"
This season's newly arrived emotional lifesavers. (Kim O'Donnel)

As many of you already know, I am notoriously slow to accept the arrival of autumn. One of the few things that gets me through the transition from lush greenery to crinkled leaf piles is the crunch of an apple. I crunch, crunch, crunch, allowing myself to get lost in the apple's diverse array of flavors, textures, shades, shapes and sizes. She is an emotional salve, shielding me from the reality of shorter days, frostier eves and the inevitable donning of woolies.

Below, an assorted grab bag of apples I picked up over the weekend at my neighborhood farmers' market, where there were at least 12 varieties to choose from. Better still, there are more varieties on tap, as the season continues into November.


Cortland

Got its start in 1898 at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, now part of Cornell University. Named after Cortland County, N.Y. Yellow-white flesh, medium-soft on the crunch. Medium tart flavor.

apples"
The first round of contestants are... (Kim O'Donnel)

Jonathan
A New York native, developed in the 1820s. Yellow-white flesh, kind of like an unripe peach. Not terribly distinctive, which would explain its use in hybrid varieties.

Grimes Golden
An old-timer vintage apple, native to West Virginia, believed to be a forerunner of the Golden Delicious. Developed by Thomas Grimes, whose neighbor was John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed (whose birthday is today - Sept. 26, 1774). Dates vary on this apple's beginnings, from 1775 to 1805. Light green hard skin resembles that of Granny Smith. White, crisp flesh. Tart flavor.

apples"
...Followed by these lovely ladies... (Kim O'Donnel)

Empire
Relatively new to the apple world, the Empire arrived on the scene in 1966 in New York state. A cross between a Macintosh and Red Delicious. Firm skin and flesh. Tart flavor with winey notes.

Jonamac
A cross between a Jonathan and a Macintosh, with New York and New England origins. Thin, yielding skin, with a soft, almost white flesh. Whenever I bite into a Jonamac, I think of "Snow White." Delicate flavor.

Honey Crisp
A cross between Macoun and Honey Gold, introduced in 1991 at the University of Minnesota. An early season apple, the Honey Crisp soon will available until early October. Skin is neither soft nor hard; the most distinctive qualities are its tangy flavor and juicy flesh, which does -- dare I say it -- carry honeyed tones.

More apple-y thoughts:

Apples have personalities, too ... Pick-your-own places in the Washington area ... A look at apples from a savory point of view, plus a few recipes to try.

What's your favorite apple of the season and why? Share in the comments area below. Apple love poetry welcome.


Cortland

Got its start in 1898 at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, now part of Cornell University. Named after Cortland County, N.Y. Yellow-white flesh, medium-soft on the crunch. Medium tart flavor.

apples"
The first round of contestants are... (Kim O'Donnel)

Jonathan
A New York native, developed in the 1820s. Yellow-white flesh, kind of like an unripe peach. Not terribly distinctive, which would explain its use in hybrid varieties.

Grimes Golden
An old-timer vintage apple, native to West Virginia, believed to be a forerunner of the Golden Delicious. Developed by Thomas Grimes, whose neighbor was John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed (whose birthday is today - Sept. 26, 1774). Dates vary on this apple's beginnings, from 1775 to 1805. Light green hard skin resembles that of Granny Smith. White, crisp flesh. Tart flavor.

apples"
...Followed by these lovely ladies... (Kim O'Donnel)

Empire
Relatively new to the apple world, the Empire arrived on the scene in 1966 in New York state. A cross between a Macintosh and Red Delicious. Firm skin and flesh. Tart flavor with winey notes.

Jonamac
A cross between a Jonathan and a Macintosh, with New York and New England origins. Thin, yielding skin, with a soft, almost white flesh. Whenever I bite into a Jonamac, I think of "Snow White." Delicate flavor.

Honey Crisp
A cross between Macoun and Honey Gold, introduced in 1991 at the University of Minnesota. An early season apple, the Honey Crisp soon will available until early October. Skin is neither soft nor hard; the most distinctive qualities are its tangy flavor and juicy flesh, which does -- dare I say it -- carry honeyed tones.

More apple-y thoughts:

Apples have personalities, too ... Pick-your-own places in the Washington area ... A look at apples from a savory point of view, plus a few recipes to try.

What's your favorite apple of the season and why? Share in the comments area below. Apple love poetry welcome.

By Kim ODonnel |  September 26, 2006; 9:26 AM ET Fall Produce
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Comments

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I personally love harder, crisper apple varieties. Winesap, honey crisp, and york are my favorites that I can remember off the top of my head.

Posted by: Austin | September 26, 2006 12:20 PM

Just muched a bigger-than-fist sized Honeycrisp as I read this. Delightful! I have had very bad luck of late with Gala's -- assume it is the end of last year's crop -- and was delighted to find the Honeycrisps.

Hoping that the farmer's market this weekend will yield good snackers and good pie apples as well.

Kim-what apples do you recommend for pies and cakes?

Love the chats!

Posted by: Honeycrisp | September 26, 2006 1:36 PM

I LOOOOOVE Cortlands!! I just came back from the Common Ground fair last weekend, and lugged with me in my carryon:

locally picked Cortlands
pumpkins from my parents patch
and sweet annie, for my kitchen.

Where did you buy the Cortlands? I like to go apple picking, but I'll need a refill before we go.

The Common Ground Fair website- promoting organic living for 30 years!
http://www.mofga.org/TheFair/tabid/135/Default.aspx

Posted by: Mainer in exile | September 26, 2006 2:22 PM

Love those Honey Crisps! Last year, they were quite tart; the year before, and this year, fortunately, they are sweeter - I guess it has a lot to do with the weather particulars.

Friends and I went out to Butler Orchards the other day to pick apples, but I went off on my own for fresh raspberries - and then I stepped on the bag in the car and mushed them all up! (it's ok, they're still good in yogurt). I think we got Cortland and Jonathan apples, and I've been eating them for lunch with sharp cheddar.

Posted by: reine de saba | September 26, 2006 2:44 PM

For apple lovers, I HIGHLY recommend the Mutsu apple. It's tart, but not as tart as a Granny Smith, and sweet. You can find them at the Mt. Pleasant, Adams Morgan, and Takoma Park farmers' markets.

Posted by: JB | September 26, 2006 3:35 PM

My mother made lovely apple pies with York apples. I never see them on the West coast, so guess they are an East coast apple.

Posted by: Mom | September 29, 2006 3:14 PM

Honey Crips are perfect for the start of the season, but come November I need GoldRush ... not so sweet, but with a wonderful tangy flavor, very crip, and store right through the winter. Even when they look horrid and wrinkly on the outside, they stay crip and taste great.

Posted by: T. Carter | October 2, 2006 7:12 PM

I just made a pie with empire apples - I think that they are just about perfect for me on the tart/sweet front - they are not NEAR as tart as the granny smith, which I find too tart for pies, but they do have a bite and are firm enough to hold up to the cooking. The local apple farm recommended them to me (for what is being picked this week).

firm apples are the key to good pies/tarts (to me!)

Posted by: applelvr | October 3, 2006 2:24 PM

where are the Macouns? the only apple for me!

Posted by: dean | October 4, 2006 1:27 PM

I *love* MacIntoshes.And yes, I do mean love them.
I think they are best a little later in the season- really-tart and sorta sweet, with lots of flavor..I wish I could have them yr round like that.
As for pies, I guess I differ--I like green apples for pie.
My mom made delicious pies with green apples--I don't know what they were, because it was before I ever heard of a Granny Smith--though those are good too.
To me, unless it's a real tart, even sour apple, the pie hasn't much taste once you get all that sugar and cinnamon etc in it.:-)

Posted by: Karron | October 5, 2006 12:56 AM

BTW, just for information, I bought the Jonamacs a couple weeks before I found the MacIntoshe group.
OK but not great, [imo].

Posted by: Karron | October 5, 2006 12:58 AM

Loving the Staymans. Hard, tart, and a tannin-y skin. Takes me back to being 7 and jumping in piles of leaves. Good for eating and baking. Here's my own Apple Crisp recipe:

A mess o' apples, peeled, cored, and sliced or cut up, and placed in acidulated water (Several cups of cut-up apples)

1/2C White-whole wheat flour
1/2C butter
1/2C brown sugar (less works well too)
1/2C old-fashioned oatmeal
cinnamon, cloves, apple pie spice, allspice- just sprinkle in whatever you want- ginger is nice too, and awesome with the same recipe done with peaches

Mix all the topping ingredients together, adding more oatmeal or a few drops of water as needed to get to to a stiff, cookie-dough consistency.

Drain apples from the acidulated water and place in a baking dish big enough to hold the apples plus at least an inch on top for the other stuff. Sprinkle 1/4C flour, a few tablespoons of sugar (more if apples are sour) and some lemon juice on top of the apples, mix together and let sit for about 5-10 min. Crumble the topping mixture over the apples, press in slightly, sprinkle with more spices if you want, and bake at 350 until it seems done. It usually takes about 45 min-1 hr. The top should be golden.

YOu can also add nuts or some dried cranberries for variety.

Absolutely amazing with Breyer's homestyle vanilla IC.

Posted by: KCSunshine | October 27, 2006 1:05 PM

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