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ugly apples, cider apples, and rare apples

 
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I'm creating a new thread with a post I put here in a thread about how ugly can be delicious:

Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Ugly fruit can be more nutritious. I was certain I'd posted about this on permies before, but after multiple searches, I guess I was mistaken.

Eliza Greenman, https://elizapples.com, has been in a wide variety of press for writing about how ugly fruit develops more antioxidants and flavor from unsightly "damage" of one kind or another.

I'd posted about Eliza's writeup of The Illustrated History of Apples in the United States and Canada - The Holy Grail of Apple Nerdery, but had only linked in that post to her "ugly apples" stuff, so maybe that's what skewed my memory.

Here are some links:
Food & Wine:  Ugly Fruit is Especially Nutritious - which credits Eliza.
And a search for "ugly apples" on Eliza's blog returns multiple articles, so I've included the search results:  elizapples.com ugly apples search results.



Eliza and other "fruit explorer" friends are interested in heritage or lost varietals of apples and mulberries - especially those that are good as hog feed or homestead use. She knows an incredible amount about cider apples and orchard maintenance / restoration. I highly recommend following her posts.



And now, there is this wonderful collection of beautiful photos I found today in the article Around the World in Rare and Beautiful Apples. This highlights photos from this wonderful person:
https://www.instagram.com/pomme_queen/
https://oddapples.photo/

Including the best apple I have ever sampled, the Calville Blanc D'Hiver.

What ugly or rare apples have you sampled or do you like to grow?



favorite-apple-calville-blanc-d-hiver.png
Calville Blanc D'Hiver - a French baking apple as profiled on William's Instagram post
Calville Blanc D'Hiver - a French baking apple as profiled on William's Instagram post
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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More photos from Eliza Greenman's article here:  https://elizapples.com/2015/03/13/eat-ugly-apples/.





But the article explains far more.
 
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I grow all my apples with no sprays or chemicals of any kind, so all my apples are ugly :)  
 
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Man. The Calville Blanc D'Hiver is certainly the craziest apple I've ever seen.

We have a local harvest festival every year (except this year) that samples out over 200 varieties of apples and pears, plus a smattering of other fruit. Hands down the best apple I've ever tasted is King of the Pippins (or Reine de Reinettes in French). It tastes like a baked apple pie full of spice. I need to hunt down some scions for it.

The talk of damage and antioxidant levels reminded me of a study on bumblebees that found that if they emerge before there's ample nectar sources, they have a very particular way that they damage plants in order to force them to start flowering early. They weren't able to replicate the same process mechanically in the lab.

It's a crazy world.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Mathew Trotter wrote:Man. The Calville Blanc D'Hiver is certainly the craziest apple I've ever seen.


Yass! I love that it has "ribs" like a pumpkin.

Mathew Trotter wrote:We have a local harvest festival every year (except this year) that samples out over 200 varieties of apples and pears, plus a smattering of other fruit. Hands down the best apple I've ever tasted is King of the Pippins (or Reine de Reinettes in French). It tastes like a baked apple pie full of spice. I need to hunt down some scions for it.


There was an apple festival near Vancouver, Washington where we were able to sample over 200 varieties of apple, and that's where I tried the Calville. I might vaguely remember the King of the Pippins, too. It's SO amazing that we can have so much more variety of flavor than what we (usually) find in stores.

Mathew Trotter wrote:The talk of damage and antioxidant levels reminded me of a study on bumblebees that found that if they emerge before there's ample nectar sources, they have a very particular way that they damage plants in order to force them to start flowering early. They weren't able to replicate the same process mechanically in the lab.

It's a crazy world.


I think I saw a video of bumble bees peeling open crocus (or saffron?) flowers. It is amazing and even more so that there can be inherent food value in what nature does for us. Nature is crazy like a fox!

 
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Knobby russet looks pretty diseased until you realise its meant to look like it!

 
Trace Oswald
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
It's SO amazing that we can have so much more variety of flavor than what we (usually) find in stores.



Ever notice how all the apples at the store taste almost the same?  The difference between the apples I grow and the ones I can buy is night and day.  I rarely even eat store apples anymore.  Even the organic ones from the store don't really taste much different.  Now that I grow a number of varieties, I'm even more interested in trying the more obscure ones.  Arkansas Black is next on my list.  Apparently you can store them for an extremely long time, and I have heard people say they are the best tasting apple they have tried.  This thread has already given me a couple more to try.  I can't wait.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Trace Oswald wrote:
Ever notice how all the apples at the store taste almost the same?  The difference between the apples I grow and the ones I can buy is night and day.  I rarely even eat store apples anymore.  Even the organic ones from the store don't really taste much different.  Now that I grow a number of varieties, I'm even more interested in trying the more obscure ones.  Arkansas Black is next on my list.  Apparently you can store them for an extremely long time, and I have heard people say they are the best tasting apple they have tried.  This thread has already given me a couple more to try.  I can't wait.



It's hard to know how much is genetics and how much is soil. I've had a couple Arkansas Blacks and they weren't anything memorable.

Meanwhile, I was on a walk with a friend the other day and stumbled on a Fuji that had been planted outside a business that had exactly one apple for each of us. We were amazed at how good it was for being a Fuji of all things. Then my friend commented that she remembered Fujis being that good when they first showed up in stores, and that's when it clicked for me. Most of these apples probably were amazing when they first hit the shelves, but after a few years of the soil being degraded and having no organic matter or minerals added back into it, it's no wonder the flavor is garbage.

I worked in a produce department before I quit to work on the homestead. The last new apple we started getting in at the time was amazingly flavorful. But I bet that within the next 10 years it'll be just as bland and flavorless as the rest of them.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Henry Jabel wrote:Knobby russet looks pretty diseased until you realise its meant to look like it!



What an amazingly unusual apple! The Around the World in Rare and Beautiful Apples article that I linked to in the OP had an even more misshapen and pockmarked "Knobbed Apple":



Though to me, somehow the photographer made it look like a nugget of gold.

 
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This is a Knobbed Russet that I had the pleasure of eating recently. I'm not positive it was one, but it seemed to fit both the physical and taste description.

Some call it the ugliest apple, but I think a lot of the "ugly" apples actually look really neat! It didn’t look that appetizing when I picked it off the tree, but once it was washed, it cleaned up really well.

I may have picked it a little late. The birds or insects seemed to really love the tree. I think it was the birds, as most of the apples looked like they had pecking damage. I didn’t look closely, but even the damaged ones still looked edible and weren’t rotting very bad due to the wound.

The birds have good taste in my opinion , as I really liked these apples as well. The first bite was kind of shocking, an intense sweet/tart and good flavor, as I hadn’t tasted such an intensely flavored apple before. The flesh was kind of dry but pleasant in a weird way. I think it is probably one of the best apples I’ve tasted, especially if you like your apples with a strong flavor kick!

I started eating a slice, then another, and before I knew it the whole apple was gone, I was chewing around the core, and wanted more! I'd rather have a delicious, "ugly", highly nutritious apple any day over the tasteless, "perfect", mostly mealy apple looking things sold in most stores today!
A-beautiful-ugly-Knobbed-Russet-apple.jpg
A beautiful ugly Knobbed Russet apple
A beautiful ugly Knobbed Russet apple
 
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Mathew Trotter wrote:
It's hard to know how much is genetics and how much is soil. I've had a couple Arkansas Blacks and they weren't anything memorable.

Meanwhile, I was on a walk with a friend the other day and stumbled on a Fuji that had been planted outside a business that had exactly one apple for each of us. We were amazed at how good it was for being a Fuji of all things. Then my friend commented that she remembered Fujis being that good when they first showed up in stores, and that's when it clicked for me. Most of these apples probably were amazing when they first hit the shelves, but after a few years of the soil being degraded and having no organic matter or minerals added back into it, it's no wonder the flavor is garbage.

I worked in a produce department before I quit to work on the homestead. The last new apple we started getting in at the time was amazingly flavorful. But I bet that within the next 10 years it'll be just as bland and flavorless as the rest of them.



I have read that this degradation of popular apples is because once an apple becomes a hit with consumers, orchardists start growing it more widely, outside of the best range.  So, for example Honeycrisp which is a Minnesota apple might not taste the same grown in a warmer, wetter climate.  But a Virginia grower who plants that variety can still sell them as Honeycrisp.

Maybe the Europeans are onto something by designating some food names usable only for food actual grown/made in the place of origin.

As far as my favorite “ugly apple,” when I lived in Estonia a friend gave me some small, misshapen, wormy-looking apples from her farm.  I don’t know the variety, but looked like a green transparent. I was not enthused at the sight, but they were some of the sweetest, tastiest apples I ever ate.

Now we buy from An organic orchard (Earth First Farms, and the apples do have the surface flaws mentioned in the Eliza Greenman article, but their golden delicious are better than any I’ve ever tasted, a totally different fruit than store bought.

 
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i suspect this region-based explanation is closer to the mark...and add in storage/shipping times. i think that fuji off the tree next to the business was good partly because it was fresh-picked. meanwhile the fujis in the grocery store here in north carolina, picked in washington two or three months ago...not quite as impressive.

i worked for a guy with 60 year old orchards in vermont a couple decades ago. he wasn’t doing a whole lot to ‘re-stock’ whatever might be depleted in his soil, but his apples were great, especially in the first month after they were picked.

going back closer to where this thread started, i’m a big fan of all the russet varieties i’ve ever tried, most of which may not move too well in a normal grocery environment.
 
Henry Jabel
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Now for a more beautiful one: Red Devil  



The flesh inside like its parent Discovery turns pink with the more sun it recieves but Red Devil can turn almost entirely pink. Tastes good too and not being as early as Discovery I guess it should store better....but mine dont last long enough for me to find out!




In the U.K we are meant to have about 2000 named cultivars which is a fairly large chunk of the 7500 named cultivars in the world. I would assume that's more than anywhere else in the world, yet like everywhere else we about 5 or 6 varieties in the supermarket at best.

When people refer to apples as only 'red apple' or 'green apple' I usually have to bite my tongue.....a lot.

I will post some more interesting ones when I find my pomonas but I might have lent them to someone.
 
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We put in a Calville Blanc tree last year, this makes me really really look forward to it bearing fruit. I had not realized that's the right thing for Tarte Tatin.

Hey, a little off subject but does anyone know why Northern Spy takes so much longer to bear fruit? I had thought the 14-year figure sounded a little fanciful but then talked to a friend who commented that her family's Northern Spy had just borne fruit, and sure enough, they put it in 14 years ago.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Charles Rehoboth wrote:We put in a Calville Blanc tree last year, this makes me really really look forward to it bearing fruit. I had not realized that's the right thing for Tarte Tatin.


Very cool that you have a Calville tree!

All this mention of Tarte Tatin, which I'd never heard of, and I finally looked it up.

Pic above and next quote from https://whatscookingamerica.net/History/PieHistory/TarteTatin.htm:

Tarte Tatin (tart tah-TAN) – A famous French upside-down apple tart (actually a sweet upside-down cake) made by covering the bottom of a shallow baking dish with butter and sugar, then apples and finally a pastry crust.  While baking, the sugar and butter create a delicious caramel that becomes the topping when the tart is inverted onto a serving plate.

There is one rule for eating Tarte Tatin, which is scrupulously observed.  It must be served warm, so the cream melts on contact.  To the French, a room temperature Tarte Tatin is not worth the pan it was baked in.



Charles Rehoboth wrote:Hey, a little off subject but does anyone know why Northern Spy takes so much longer to bear fruit? I had thought the 14-year figure sounded a little fanciful but then talked to a friend who commented that her family's Northern Spy had just borne fruit, and sure enough, they put it in 14 years ago.


Sorry, no clue there. Did you try a search for Northern Spy apple on permies.com?
 
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:

Charles Rehoboth wrote:We put in a Calville Blanc tree last year, this makes me really really look forward to it bearing fruit. I had not realized that's the right thing for Tarte Tatin.


Very cool that you have a Calville tree!

All this mention of Tarte Tatin, which I'd never heard of, and I finally looked it up.



Oh yes....Tarte Tatin!  I made my first after watching Aube make it (see video below).  Getting the temperature just right before flipping it out of its cast iron pan took me a little practice....so good.
 
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Mathew Trotter wrote:

The talk of damage and antioxidant levels reminded me of a study on bumblebees that found that if they emerge before there's ample nectar sources, they have a very particular way that they damage plants in order to force them to start flowering early. They weren't able to replicate the same process mechanically in the lab.

It's a crazy world.




Interesting. I grew a rare squash variety last summer, and only after planting it found out that it was probably a short-day variety, and wouldn't flower until almost frost. There was a vague half-memory niggling in the back of my mind, about orchardists damaging trees to make them flower. Long story short, if you give Shark Fin Squash a tiny little bruise, anywhere on the vine, it flowers even in summer.

It seems like the relationship between damage and flowering could use a lot more research.
 
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Mathew Trotter wrote:

Meanwhile, I was on a walk with a friend the other day and stumbled on a Fuji that had been planted outside a business that had exactly one apple for each of us. We were amazed at how good it was for being a Fuji of all things. Then my friend commented that she remembered Fujis being that good when they first showed up in stores, and that's when it clicked for me. Most of these apples probably were amazing when they first hit the shelves, but after a few years of the soil being degraded and having no organic matter or minerals added back into it, it's no wonder the flavor is garbage.

I worked in a produce department before I quit to work on the homestead. The last new apple we started getting in at the time was amazingly flavorful. But I bet that within the next 10 years it'll be just as bland and flavorless as the rest of them.




I'm old enough to remember when Red Delicious actually lived up to the name. They were crisp, sweet, and tasty.

Then for a while, Golden Delicious was the best. The ones in the store now are nothing at all like they once were. Honestly, there are times I can't tell by the flavor if an apple is supposed to be a Golden Delicious, or a Granny Smith?

Honeycrisp is about half to 2/3rds of the way way through its decline.

I would love to have a tree or two each of 500 different apple varieties. Especially the range of flavors found in the more obscure types. I remember years ago seeing Grapple seedlings for sale. Now the grapples you find in the store are just regular apples with artificial flavoring added.

 
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Greg Martin wrote:

Oh yes....Tarte Tatin!  I made my first after watching Aube make it (see video below).  Getting the temperature just right before flipping it out of its cast iron pan took me a little practice....so good.



That looks like it wouldn't be too hard to make as a single-serving pie. I'll have to try that!
 
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greg mosser wrote:i worked for a guy with 60 year old orchards in vermont a couple decades ago. he wasn’t doing a whole lot to ‘re-stock’ whatever might be depleted in his soil, but his apples were great, especially in the first month after they were picked.



When you consider that was a couple of decades ago planted 60 years ago thats technology from 80 years ago! The new style of commercial orchard is different, perhaps he could get away with not restocking because the trees were bigger and had larger roots to pull in what they need from further away or even via fungal networks. The modern way is to grow very dwarfing trees very close together then spray fungicides, pesticides and then glyphosate to keep the grass down. Doesn't sound to me like it would improve the flavour.
 
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:
I'm old enough to remember when Red Delicious actually lived up to the name. They were crisp, sweet, and tasty.

Then for a while, Golden Delicious was the best. The ones in the store now are nothing at all like they once were.



I'm intrigued by the argument that soil quality has to do with decreasing flavor, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's something to that. At the same time, remember cultivars aren't a monolithic thing without variation within them, so suppliers could also select for "Red Delicious" that favor bruise resistance and long shelf life over flavor or nutrition. Dwarfing rootstocks don't live nearly as long as seedling and Antonovka, and commercial growers favor dwarfing rootstocks ( = no pickers on ladders ), so their trees are getting replaced with some regularity.

Does fruit quality from the same tree seem to decline as time passes? That seems like the big question here.
 
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If you live in a warmer temperate climate this is a nursey.
https://www.centuryfarmorchards.com/
 
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It's funny how humans can be so brainwashed, fruit has to be just so, the size, the color, the texture, yet if you were to blind fold anyone they could not tell the difference in an apple that was perfect or one that had scab. Ugly is beautiful. I have over 150 apple tress that produce a verity of shapes, sizes, colors, or what ever yet they taste just as good if not better than anything you buy from the orchards or stores. I have had many, many people tell me to prune my tress, do this, do that, My reply is, mother nature has been doing just great so far without my help, why would I want to make her mad now?  
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