Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The apples are here!

Ginger Gold, top, PaulaRed, below.

Having a hard time coping with the summer’s extended heat wave? Want to usher in an early taste of the fall season to come? How about biting into a fresh New England apple at your favorite orchard.

The earliest varieties are now being picked. The two most popular commercial varieties in August are PaulaRed and Ginger Gold. If you would like to visit an orchard to pick your own fruit amid the fragrant rows of apple trees, be sure to contact your orchard ahead of time to make sure that the apples you seek are ready. Visit our website, New England Apples, for a listing of orchards by state.

Ginger Gold’s are sweet, tangy and juicy. They are round in shape, with a smooth green-yellow skin and a slight red blush. The Ginger Gold is an excellent multi-purpose eating, cooking, and baking apple. They excel in salads and fruit plates since their crisp, white flesh browns slowly when sliced.

Discovered in a Virginia orchard in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the late 1960s, Ginger Gold is a likely cross between Golden Delicious and Albemarle Pippin apples.

PaulaReds boast a red color with light yellow striping and have a sweet-tart flavor, with a hint of strawberry. The flesh is firm. These McIntosh-type apples are good for both cooking and fresh eating.

The PaulaRed is a relatively new variety, introduced in Michigan in 1968. It came from a chance seedling, possibly from a Cortland.

Other early varieties you might find at this time of year include Jersey Mac, Vista Belle, and Yellow Transparent. These early season apples tend not to keep as long as the later varieties, so get them now, while they are fresh.

The New England apple season is still running about seven to 10 days earlier than usual, a consequence of all this hot weather. It could change in the next few weeks if we have some cool nights and days to slow down the ripening process. But for now, you can anticipate that the McIntosh, New England’s favorite apple, may be ripe for picking at the beginning, rather than the middle, of September.

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