Monday, September 15, 2014

Do you like apples? Sure, we all do.

I read THE most interesting article about apples yesterday. Really: The Awful Reign of the Red Delicious.

Things I never knew. UNTIL NOW:

- Red Delicious apples are generally thought to be disgusting. All these years, I assumed I was the only one! How else to account for the fact that,

- through the 1980s, Red Delicious apples made up 75% of Washington's apple crop. Seventy-five percent!

- the Red Delicious started out as Hawkeye, and wasn't a deep red color at all. The name was changed to Stark Delicious, and finally Red Delicious (to pair with Golden Delicious) in 1914.

- it only became that crimson red color when a mutated branch of apples appeared in 1923.

- a wide variety of apples such as Fuji and Gala were not readily available to American consumers until the 1990s. All this time, I thought it was my growing awareness as I grew up that explained why I only started eating those superior kinds of apples more recently. But they just weren't available.

- there was an apple industry bailout (in the 1990s, under President Clinton). An apple. industry. bailout.

- since the 1990s, the Red Delicious harvest has decreased 40 percent. Furthermore, 60 to 65 percent of that reduced number will be shipped overseas for consumption, instead of bothering you guys in the US.

Read the article. Isn't this the truest/most beautiful thing you've ever read about Red Delicious apples?

[This is] the paradox of the Red Delicious: alluring yet undesirable, the most produced and arguably the least popular apple in the United States. It lurks in desolation. Bumped around the bottom of lunch bags as schoolchildren rummage for chips or shrink-wrapped Rice Krispies treats. Waiting by the last bruised banana in a roadside gas station, the only produce for miles. Left untouched on hospital trays, forlorn in the fruit bowl at hotel breakfast buffets, bereft in nests of gift-basket raffia.


As genes for beauty were favored over those for taste, the skins grew tough and bitter around mushy, sugar-soaked flesh.
In conclusion, here are my favorite apples, in order of preference, based on what is available to me here (we had lots more varieties in Ithaca that I've not seen elsewhere, since).

Jazz. Do you have these in the US?
Ambrosia. Same question as above.
Fuji. This used to be my very favorite, but sometimes they're overlarge and watery.
Pink Lady.
Braeburn. These are hit-and-miss, here, though.
Honeycrisp. But they're overpriced and sometimes not good all the way through.
Gala. But only if they're crisp, and they often are a little mealy for my taste. It's too bad because these are cheap and easily available here.
Granny Smith. Good for cooking or making apple salsa.

What are your favorite apples?


Amira said...

I like fresh-off-the-tree Red Delicious apples. I will never understand why they became THE apple in the US when they're awful storage apples and everyone knows it. Even though they're nasty, their history is fascinating.

I grew up next to an apple orchard and we'd get fresh apple cider from them every fall. I want to visit my parents in the fall just to drink that juice.

That orchard had Jonathan apples and I will always love those best. But they're hard to find. I loved the fall we spent in Charlottesville, Virginia, because they had so many good apples and we tried lots of new kinds. Even the grocery stores had decent apples. I went to one orchard with heirloom apples. They were amazing, but pricey.

I bought an unknown kind of apple this weekend. 40 kilos of them. Because I need applesauce and there isn't much applesauce in Mexico. The apples I bought were from Chihuahua which is cool all by itself, and they were only 18 cents a pound. Most of the apples sold in Mexico are imported from Washington and are pretty expensive. But we get a few different types. Usually I buy local fruit.

Apples in Central Asia were delicious because, at least according to people there, that's where they originated. Almaty (Alma-Ata) is supposed to mean Father of Apples. I'd pay about 50 cents a pound for them and I never knew what type they were, except yummy.

I have lots to say about apples. :)

Bridget said...

I've never had a fresh Red Delicious. I believe you that they are good.

You've reminded me that in Syria, we just had "apples." No sticker or variety. They were always from the Golan and they were pretty tasty - kind of like Gala, but more golden.

I think I've had Jonathan apples before - if my mom or dad sees this, they can confirm that we get those in Oregon, somewhere.

amber said...

I love talking about apples! We have Jazz and Ambrosia here in the US, I love those and also Sonya and Kiku. It seems like there's another one I love too, pacific rose? Maybe? I also thought it was just me growing up and buying my own groceries that made me aware of other apple varieties, but I guess not!

Señora H-B said...

I go through apple-loving phases, though Red Delicious isn't usually in there. Like Amira said above, a fresh-off-the-tree Red Delicious is a revelation. But kill me before I have to eat one that's been in cold storage for 18 months. Sometimes I love Granny Smith, sometimes Golden Delicious, sometimes Gala, sometimes pretty much everything, actually. Still, I'd rather die than eat a mealy apple. *shudder*

Ariana said...

I love jazz apples. Red delicious are foul. The best apples ever (I think) come from Minnesota and just are not available anywhere else. Varieties you'll never hear of unless you visit there. Haralson, haralred, etc. Many of the newer varieties that are delicious came from research done at the U of Minn.

Jen said...


I forget that apples are limited in some where I do, we have access to a minimum of 10 varieties of apples at any time of the year. More in the fall.

I have a friend who grew up on an apple farm in Washington state. She said there is nothing more delicious than a Golden Delicious right off the tree...and when she tells people this, it's to a skeptical audience.

Ariana said...

Honeygold is another fabulous variety, but they are hard to find. I think my granddad used to grow some. They are like Golden delicious, but way more interesting.

Myrna said...

McIntosh. We ate them in Canada all the time--which makes sense, since they are a native Canadian apple. All this talk of apples reminds me of a story that was in an anthology that my parents had--I googled it and learned that the story actually came from a book called Mr. Apple's Family by Jean McDevitt. Mr. and Mrs. Apple had a son named Mac, a son name Jonathan, a daughter named Delia (short for Delicious), a daughter named Snow. When the new baby comes, Mr. Apple is considering all sorts of suitable Apple names, but Mrs. Apple says, "We will call her Ann. Ann Apple." Such a fun story, full of apple varieties!

Hannah said...

That was a fascinating article. I've never liked Red Delicious apples, either. It's somewhat comforting to know that it's not just me. I particularly like McIntosh, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, and Pink Lady.

Crys said...

I'm a gala girl myself. We want and picked apples last week. I headed for the gala trees. I agree with you on hating mealy apples. I actually risk the chance of bruising to give each of my apples a light squeeze before I put them in the bag. If they give at all under my fingertips I don't buy them! As a kid I hated apples. My mom always bought red and delicious or red an disgusting as I liked to call them. I remember my first golden delicious. Please only ever buy these I aske my mom. Is read a book about golden delicious once. I want to say they also came from a single tree mutation and that every golden delicious eaten actually comes from clippings from that tree but it has been years since I read anything on apple genetics so maybe my mind just made that up ;)

Susanne said...

Fun post! I don't like red delicious either. I will try about any of them, but prefer them firm which red delicious never seem to be. Their skin is a pretty color...

Liz Johnson said...

I bought Jazz Apples on your recommendation this week, and you're right - they're delicious! Thank you!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

The disappointing red delicious was the available apple my entire growing up years. In the 80s we lived close enough to orchards to try other varieties and wow, discovered some tasty apples not carried in the stores.

Wish you could be here in October when Portland Nursery for 2 weekends runs an apple fest. About 40 varieties are brought in--even some heirlooms and rarities. Pick up a sheet describing each variety and move through a line to taste a thin slice of each one. You can note which you would like to buy; most varieties are available for sale, so we always bring home a few new to us.


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