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Beyond Delicious

At the height of apple season, bust out of your pomological comfort zone to try some of the more obscure, juice-drippingly tasty varieties grown by local farmers (only Washington beats New York in apple production). Here, our 28 favorite apples of the five dozen culled from Greenmarket stands one recent weekend.

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Akane
Pronounced ah-kahn-ay, this variety originated in Japan. More tart and spicy than sweet, with firm flesh. Applesauce aficionados swear by it. At Samascott.   

Arkansas Black As distinctively tart and astringent as a Jolly Rancher, with firm, fine-grained flesh. This tiny apple turns a very dark red, if not quite black as advertised, in storage. At Cheerful Cherry. Arlet One bite into the mild-mannered, waxy-skinned, soft-fleshed Arlet (a.k.a. Swiss Gourmet) and you sense its Golden Delicious genes: Bland at first, its subtly sweet flavor gains in complexity as you chomp along. At Samascott. Ashmead’s Kernel What it lacks in looks, this old, leathery English apple makes up for in flavor—super-tart, spicy, complex, and intense. Improves in storage; good for DIY cider-makers. At Samascott.
Braeburn If you like supermarket Braeburns from New Zealand, you’ll like the locally grown variety even better. Surprisingly rich flavor, nicely balanced between sweet and tart. At Terhune. Calville Blanc d’hiver This sharp and snappy, distinctively ribbed apple dates from the 1500s. Thomas Jefferson grew them, Monet painted them, and Greenmarket foragers gobble them out of hand and bake them in pies. At Samascott. Elstar This juicy, marble-skinned apple also has some Golden Delicious in its DNA, but you might not guess it from its comparatively sprightly flavor. At Samascott.
Eve’s Delight The conventional wisdom among apple connoisseurs is that in apples, as in so much of life, bigger isn’t necessarily better. This titanic specimen must be the exception. At Locust Grove. Fortune One of many Cornell ag-department experiments gone right. Fortune (or the apple formerly known as NY 429) has good genes (Empire and Schoharie Spy), a hearty snap, and well-balanced, sweet-tart flavor. At Tree-Licious. Golden Russet Beneath the rough, potatolike skin of this New York State native lies firm, fine-grained flesh that’s crisp and moderately juicy, with a lively flavor. At Locust Grove.
Golden Supreme Aside from its rosy blush, it looks like a run-of-the-mill Golden D. But further investigation reveals a nice round flavor—sweet and honeyed, with a hint of pear. At Stannard. Hidden Rose With shocking pink flesh visible through its thin green-gold skin, this racquetball-size apple seems to be blushing. But with a top-notch sweet-tart flavor, it’s got nothing to be embarrassed about. At Samascott. Honeycrisp A Greenmarket sensation, this relatively new Macoun-Honeygold hybrid is perfectly sweet, fairly bursting with juice, and unrivaled for crispness. At Migliorelli.
Jonagold Classic good looks with a good sweet-tart flavor, crisp bite, and plenty of juice. Oddly, this homegrown variety is more popular abroad than on native soil. At Terhune. Macoun This 1923 offspring of the McIntosh and the Jersey Black boasts a rich, full flavor and a snappy bite. It’s ma-koon, by the way, and named for a Canadian. At Caradonna.. Newton Pippin Our hometown apple, native to Elmhurst and revered by everyone from George Washington to Dave Matthews. It’s rich and distinctive, with a lingering piney tartness, and only gets better in storage. At Locust Grove.
Northern Spy An old favorite among pie bakers and out-of-hand chompers alike, it’s resoundingly crisp and juicy, with a robust, sweet-tart flavor. At Cheerful Cherry. NY 428 Disregard the bureaucratic name of this Empire–Northern Spy cross, and relish its tangy, vinous, sweet-sour flavor and abundantly juicy flesh. It’s a local, after all, born in Cornell’s ag department. At Samascott. Rhode Island Greening Granny Smith fans will find much to love in this puckery apple. The backstory: It was bred in the 1600s by Mr. Green, a tavern owner in Green’s End, Rhode Island. At Locust Grove.
Rubinette The best apple we tasted, with lovely red-and-gold-streaked skin and intense, tangy, winey, musky, aromatic flavor, well balanced between sweet and sharp. At Tree-Licious. Senshu A member of the Fuji family in good standing, this fine-flavored apple is predominantly sweet, with a crisp bite. At Tree-Licious. Smokehouse An old, squat, all-purpose apple that has creamy-white flesh full of rich, invigorating flavor. At Tree-Licious.
Spartan Takes after its McIntosh parent, with bright-crimson skin, snow-white flesh, and sweet, winey flavor. At Stannard. Spigold As big in size as it is in complex sweet-tart flavor, this Northern Spy–Golden Delicious hybrid has a fervent following among apple scholars. At Tree-Licious. Stayman Juicy and aromatic, with a toothsome, vinous flavor characteristic of its Winesap cousin. Thank Dr. J. Stayman of Leavenworth, Kansas, for stumbling upon it back in 1866. At Stannard.
Suncrisp Crisp, cream-colored flesh and an excellent, complex, pearlike flavor that fairly cries out for a nice stinky cheese to go along with it. At Tree-Licious. Winesap A native New Jerseyan, smallish, round, with red-and-yellow-striped skin and a boisterous personality that won’t quit—the Snooki of apples. At Terhune. Winter Banana It gets its name from its alleged bananalike fragrance, but the real draw here, besides non-bananalike good looks, is a subtle sweetness and crisp, juicy flesh. At Locust Grove.

Apples collected from Caradonna Farms, Cheerful Cherry Farm, Locust Grove Farms, Migliorelli Farm, Samascott Orchards, Stannard Farms, Terhune Orchards, and Tree-Licious Orchards; for market locations and schedules, see grownyc.org/ourmarkets.

Photographs by Danny Kim


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