06 December 2008

Apple of Your Eyes

Apples are my favorite food. Yes, they are most indeed natures perfect gift. Nothing satisfies my urge for something sweet, crunchy, and filling, like a ripe, juicy apple.

Most of us grew up eating one or two varieties like the Macintosh, Delicious, or the Granny Smith, but there were once over two thousand varieties of apples being grown in North America. Apple seeds were brought over from England by the pilgrims (the only apple that is indigenous to the Americas is the Crabapple), but because apples seeds possess unique genes, thousands of varieties thrived and the apple soon became an ubiquitous part of the American diet. Unfortunately, over the last century, the mass marketing of apples has resulted in growers limiting their varieties and breeding apples to have a longer shelf life and remain unblemished after having withstood long distances of shipping and packing.

Today however, we are starting to see a resurgence of these "antique" or heirloom varieties being sold at orchards and farmers markets. They may not look as shiny and symmetrical as the ones you find in the grocery store, but they are unbelievably delicious - each possessing their own unique flavors and textures.

Look for names like Kandil Sinap, Jonathan, Asmead's Kernal, Newtown Pippin, Smokehouse, Cox Orange Pippin, Golden Russet, York Imperial, and Maiden Blush.  Most of these varieties are only available in the fall but the season can extend well into December and January depending on your climate.

These Honey Crisp are so crunchy and dense, they are like a portable meal.  

This was the first time I ever tried Keepsake apples. They are both incredibly sweet and tart and taste like raspberries. They are my new favorites.


Mark said...

For me, heirloom fruits also actually end up redefining vegetable "beauty." In my much more limited experience with these older (or old style but actually new) variations of the apple, it's impossible to divorce the taste experience from a new appreciation for the variety of colors and shapes in the heirloom class.

Stephanie said...

I agree. There is a unique aesthetic and taste superiority to all of these fruits and vegetables, despite their individual flaws.

Steve said...

If I could be a fruit, it would be an apple. It has always been my food alter ego.

Maybe it is because I grew up with a granny smith tree in my backyard in Pennsylvania. Maybe It is because the fruit seems to have such mystic importance in out collective human consciousness- the Fall, the kabbalistic orchard of holy apples, apple pie. Not sure why.

I eat two medium-sized granny smiths with some raw almonds and pumpkin seeds in the morning. Sometimes I add an orange. This has been my breakfast for the last few months. This, and a large steaming cup of black coffee.

Needless to say, these have been some of the best few months of my life.

Stephanie said...

You are right, Steve. The apple plays a significant role in universal mythologies and is always the centerpiece of any artistic interpretation of nourishment. Historically, it seems that no matter where humans migrated, they always brought apple seeds with them.

I'm glad that your wonderful breakfast of raw fruits and nuts is contributing to your happiness (and of course the coffee!). Apples make me happy too.

Seth said...

Lately, I've been eating one apple every day. Typically, I eat a local Fuji apple. Recently, I've been eating Honeycrisp and Pink Lady apples. Seriously, is there anything better than a good Honeycrisp apple?

I have never eaten the heirlooms you mention here. As usual, your blog makes me feel jealous.

Seth said...

Ask Steve about his Apple Burger recipe.

Stephanie said...

Seth, the Honeycrisp apples cause me to let out obscene sounds. It's embarrassing.

Don't be jealous. You get to go to the real farms. We urban dwellers pretend we've had a dose of the "country" when we talk to a few Amish people who still have dirt on their hands.

Apple burger? Intriguing...