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October 18, 2006

An Observation That Probably Doesn't Merit Its Own Entry, But Damn It, It's My Blog and I Can Do What I Want, So Stop Looking at Me Like That

You know, there are very few things in life that beat a really crisp apple.

And I'm not even that much of an apple person.

This is the type of apple I'm eating, incidentally. On another note, I think it's mildly disturbing that an apple variety has its own Web domain.

Posted by john at October 18, 2006 10:44 AM

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Chris S. | October 18, 2006 10:56 AM

Even the sound of that first sharp bite is satisfying. And that's before you get to the taste.

Chang who is theoretically at "work" | October 18, 2006 10:56 AM

Lemme tell you something, I live in Apple country and by far the best thing is a good crisp Macintosh. Got a bag of them and I shoulda had oen this AM but I was too busy shuttling a recalcitrant 7 year old to school.

A good apple can't be beat. A bad apple is just so upsetting.

Lars | October 18, 2006 10:58 AM

I don't want to offend you, but I've tried honeycrisp apples and they suck.

Hear me out: they're crisp and all, and they're sweet(like honey), but they have no depth of flavor. I'd take a macintosh windfall any day over a honeycrisp fresh off the branch.

Steve Buchheit | October 18, 2006 11:00 AM

Yep, it's fall in Ohio and the cider presses are grinding away.

I'll put in a pimp for my current favorite, Winesap. Mmm, tart and crisp.

John Scalzi | October 18, 2006 11:05 AM


"Hear me out: they're crisp and all, and they're sweet(like honey), but they have no depth of flavor."

I don't know. Mine was pretty tasty. I'd agree the flavor's not notably complex, but it wasn't insipid. I'd say this is an apple for eatin', not an apple for bakin'.

Denis Moskowitz | October 18, 2006 11:06 AM

I'm a fan of Jonagold apples, which are a Jonathan/Golden Delicious hybrid.

Q | October 18, 2006 11:07 AM

The honeycrisp, incidentally... and if I'm not mistaken, was developed at my alma mater...

It's also perhaps my favorite apple... though the Macoun is probably tied... it all depends on the mood.

Fall... apples... Maine... Sometimes, life is good.

Q | October 18, 2006 11:10 AM

Confirmed! Go U of M!

Also... it reminded me why I love them...

Honeycrisp was produced from a 1960 cross of Macoun and Honeygold, as part of the University of Minnesota apple breeding program to develop winter hardy cultivars with high fruit quality.

Its got a macoun right inside! I'd forgotten that...

Harry | October 18, 2006 11:14 AM

lots of apples on the web.

Kevin Q | October 18, 2006 11:28 AM

The best thing I ever ate was an apple:

I'd been wearing braces for two year, and fishing apple bits out of the wires was a pain in the neck, so I'd given up eating them. On Friday, I got my braces removed. On Saturday, I ran a 5k road race. At the finish line, then had an array of fruit and water. After running the race, dehydrated and worn down, I grabbed an apple wedge, and it was the single-most delicious thing I'd ever tasted.


Tom_B | October 18, 2006 11:30 AM

I dunno; maybe Ohio Honeycrisps have it all over the New England strain, but the one I picked off a tree at the orchard last weekend was unimpressive.

Oh, it was, crisp, I'll grant you that. But that was about it. Compared to the Cortlands and Macouns we picked from another part of the orchard, the Honeycrisp had almost negative taste. It's was Meister-Brau of apples in a Guinness orchard.

A good Cortland, fresh off the tree, still warm where the sun has been shining on it, but cooler on the other side; that, my friends, is an apple.

I suppose you can find a good Macintosh in an orchard--although with Cortlands, and Macouns, and Empires, and Spies available, why would you bother?--but those nasty-ass things you find in a plastic bag in the supermarket should be avoided at all costs.

Tor | October 18, 2006 11:38 AM

Personally, I am an enourmous fan of the Northern Spy apple. An awesome eating apple - crisp and a little tart and sweet, and also great in pies (although I would recommend adding some granny smith with the northern spies if you are going the pie route - it's all about the apple mix. And the crust).

I can't say enough good things about Northern Spy apples.

Joel Finkle | October 18, 2006 11:38 AM

I miss my fave apple: a gold/green variety with a bit of blush and some russetting. We just called it "Golden Delicious" but it has nothing in common with the Granny Smith and similar one-note-flavor apples you see in supermarkets. It was the most popular apple at a local orchard that sadly, is a condo development now.

I was able to pick up a few of these at the local farmer's market, but I don't remember the variety name.

Synedrian | October 18, 2006 11:41 AM

Go ahead and gloat, apple eater. Some of us wear braces, and haven't had the pleasure of a satisfying crunch of a crisp apple for over a year.


Jeff Hentosz | October 18, 2006 11:41 AM

Red Delicious, the tried-and-true. But it has the most razor-thin margin between great and gross. Fresh and crispy, it can't be beat. Two seconds past its prime — yuck. When I was little there were a bunch of pick-your-own orchards south of Akron. The absolute best for this city boy was to park myself up in the crook of a branch and eat myself sick. Oh, and throw the cores at my brother and sisters down below. Can't forget the sweet apple sniping.

PeterP | October 18, 2006 12:01 PM

I actually picked up a couple of these at the store the other day. It may replace the Braeburn as my favorite...

nep | October 18, 2006 12:22 PM

Just you wait until everything has its own TLD, then you can post about eating a http://honey.crisp.apple/

andrew | October 18, 2006 12:37 PM

Golden Russett's. They don't look very good; the Russet gives them a perpetually unripe look.

Tastewise however, they can't be beat. They have a complex honey-sweet flavour and they are also very juicy.

I like Granny Smiths as well. I remember in my teens, the only Granny Smith's came from South Africa and as I became more politically aware, I stopped eating Granny Smiths. It took about 10 or so years for the Washington and B.C. Orchards to start bringing North American granny smiths to market. A few years ago, I saw South African Granny Smiths on sale and I bought some and I realized that this was first South African Granny smith that I had had for over 20 years; it was good.


Q | October 18, 2006 12:46 PM

I'm stunned to see someone advocate for the Red Delicious... I've never met anyone who truly enjoyed them. I've always felt the only thing they were good for was displaying in a fruit bowl arrangement...

Steve Buchheit | October 18, 2006 12:46 PM

Wait a second, evil fruit over in the "open thread" and then a thred about apples. I'm smelling a trend. :)

Amanda | October 18, 2006 12:52 PM

I'm a fan of the Royal Gala apples. They're super sweet and cruncy.

Though for pies? I try to go something not quite as sweet. Spartan's work well, a Granny Smith is yummy too.

Mmm. What I wouldn't do right now for a nicely chilled apple and chunk of aged cheddar. Mmm.... damnit.

Armchair Anarchist | October 18, 2006 01:01 PM

I'm a fan of the Royal Gala apples.

Hell, you beat me to it. Royal Gala 4m t3h r0Xx0R.

Mris | October 18, 2006 01:02 PM

I just bought three Honeycrisps. My mom baked some on Sunday, and they were exquisite that way.

Penny Hill | October 18, 2006 01:08 PM

John, I'm really disappointed with this post. More accurately, with that link. I had expected a photo of your apple with a bite taken out--the evidence, as it were. Or a self-portrait of you eating an apple. Or perhaps of your dog looking at the apple in that confused canine way when it tries to ascertain if something is a toy or food.

I am not so disappointed that I will discontinue reading The Whatever, but I feel as though someone kicked the fun out from under me. (sniff)

Cassie | October 18, 2006 01:08 PM

Good thing no one mentioned Melrose, so I don't have to share them.

John H | October 18, 2006 01:10 PM

I'm not a big fan of raw apples - and to add to my contrariness, the sound of someone biting into an apple (or any other crisp fruit or veggie) makes me cringe, not unlike fingernails on a chalkboard.

Apple cider, apple juice, applesauce, baked apples - no problem. Raw apples - no thanks...

Anna | October 18, 2006 01:26 PM

I prefer the Gala and Fuji apples, personally, but I get Honeycrisps because they're locally grown and I try (when I think about it, and when it's possible) to get local produce over long-stored and imported-over-many-miles produce. If I ever remembered the farmer's market that happens on Saturdays not too far from where I live (you can't get more local than down the street!), I'd get them there, but somehow I never manage think of it until it's too late.

Audrey | October 18, 2006 01:30 PM

Honeycrisp was the one apple I liked but couldn't find to buy at the apple tasting I went to last weekend. But I have a big bag at home with Northern Spy, Fuji, and all sorts of other yummy apples to dig into. Mmm.

Lars | October 18, 2006 01:47 PM


"I'd agree the flavor's not notably complex, but it wasn't insipid. I'd say this is an apple for eatin', not an apple for bakin'. "

I'd say that's wise. Some apples pack a lot of water, which makes for soggy pies.

All I'm saying is, why settle for less? Why go for the apple that is predominately sweet or sour -- either extreme will cloy your pallete after just a few bites -- when you can gorge yourself on the balenced, reasoned tartness of a Macintosh? You can't go through a bag of Honeycrisps or Granny Smiths the way you can a bag of Macs.

Mary | October 18, 2006 01:49 PM

My usual go-to apple is a Macintosh, as I like my apples crisp, not mealy (Red "Delicious"? Ha!!), with a nice balance of tart and sweet. So what eating apples out-Mac the Mac, in your opinion?

(The Honeycrisp probably doesn't, it seems.)

Katie | October 18, 2006 01:55 PM

I live in the middle of NC apple country (there's an orchard within sight of our house, in fact) and I have not gone apple picking yet because my favorite variety hasn't started ripening yet. This weekend, though, the Pink Lady apple will be mine!

Anonymous | October 18, 2006 02:01 PM

Speaking of Evil fruit, I found this quote from the Web site somewhat disturbing,

"It appears to be well suited to a central leader training system..."

Sounds like some kind of Facist Apple. I wonder what the central leader's orders are and if you can trust these apples in your home while you're sleeping.

Nick | October 18, 2006 02:24 PM

Definitely like the "kick-you-in-the-face" tartness of a Granny Smith as well.


Very true though John, life and it's simple pleasures.

Naomi Kritzer | October 18, 2006 02:41 PM

I love honeycrisp, honeygold, and russets. Eaten really fresh, the honeycrisp are excellent, but they really shine in comparison to other apples when you keep them around for a week or two. Since I don't get to go to the apple orchard on a daily basis for my fresh apple fix, I like apples that still taste good a week or two later. A lot of apples get mealy really fast; the honeycrisp doesn't. (It does, however, bruise if you look at it cross-eyed.)

There was a newspaper article this year about the Zestar (the newest variety from the people who brought you the honeycrisp) but all the other people who read the article and said "ooooh, I wanna try one!" beat me to the store. Maybe I'll get to try one next year.

Scorpio | October 18, 2006 02:52 PM

*The* best apple is the Fuji. Super crisp, a light sweetness, wonderful flesh, thin skin. Ahhhhh!

James | October 18, 2006 03:03 PM

For my money nothing beats a good Fuji.

Nathan | October 18, 2006 03:14 PM

Empire, Bloods, Winesaps Navels, Fujis, Valencias.

Oops, talking apples and oranges, here.

BTW, if Tripp stops by, I'm now completely stuck hearing the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald as the soundtrack to EVERYTHING!

You'll pay.

a.a.johnston | October 18, 2006 03:25 PM

Odd choice for a first time post but I happen to be eating a honeycrisp right this very moment and very happily. I'm also fond of Fujis and Granny Smiths but these showed up at the new Whole Foods Market in the Atlanta area about a month ago and my household is going through a bag of a dozen a week easily. They are absolutely wonderful raw but they also make a great cooking apple whereas Fuji's sometimes get mealy.

Salutes Mr. Scalzi with fruit. Lovely rec. Lovely blog.

Adela | October 18, 2006 03:26 PM

Granny smiths for baking and cooking as they are the only apple I find that won't turn into pasty mush.
Perfect in tourtieres and curry.
My eating apple has always been Macs but they have to be the good ones tree ripe with yellow speckles and a pink blush no green. Spartans are for apple sauce with the pork and fresh coleslaw.

Liz | October 18, 2006 03:46 PM

I've recently discovered the nittany apple, and in one bite it became my favorite. Pippens are pretty fabulous, as well.

For grocery store apples, gala and fuji win. For lower quality grocery stores, gotta go with granny smith.

Mary | October 18, 2006 04:55 PM

Wait a second: Adela, you use apples in your tourtiere? We use potatoes to bind it all (plus beef, pork, onions and spices), but apples are a new ingredient to me. Do you use them for body, or does any apple flavour really come through?

Adela | October 18, 2006 05:58 PM

Well Mary, a good apple means the flavour comes through. I have so many different tourtiere recipes both old and new world. What did the French use prior to potatoes.
Pork meat and apples are such a happy couple.
Shall we talk of Acadian pork roast stuffed with apple&apricot chutney and glazed with blueberry thyme sauce?

Mary | October 18, 2006 06:05 PM

We can talk once I stop drooling over your recipe. Mmmmmmm!

My tourtiere is New World all the way, being Qu├ębecoise and all, but I've dabbled in period recipes for SCA. I'll be poking around your site for some more recipes -- thanks!

Anonymous | October 18, 2006 06:17 PM

Thanks Mary, the recipes are tagged as such.
Eating apples are too perfume for cooking. You need a more robust apple for cooking.

Michelle | October 18, 2006 06:50 PM

I am a bit of an apple snob. A mealy apple drives me to the brink of foodie insanity! Try a Pink Lady apple, they are almost always crisp and have that perfect ratio of sweet and tart.



Rebel Squirrel | October 18, 2006 07:35 PM

Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady, Honeygold, Honeycrisp... Never had a Northern Spy but I might have to look for some since they seem to appeal to the same crowd.

NOT terribly fond of Macintosh for eating, I prefer them as an electronics vendor. Last time I had them they were kind of enh and mushy.

The squirrelfriend really likes Cortlands, which I enjoy when they're fresh but after a week or so they get soft and kind of enh.

Red Delicious are for fruit baskets to be delivered to people you need to impress but don't like very much: all show, no substance.

When I lived in Oregon you could get a late-season variety called Cosmos which would appeal to someone who likes Fujis and Galas, same kind of flavor.

Best baking apple we have found so far is an odd variety we've only found at one orchard from an old guy who is inconsistent about the spelling - either Halbert or Halberd. Greenish with a blush, medium flavor (not too sweet, not too tart), and holds its texture real well in a pie. Wish I knew someone else who was growing them, our apple guy is going to retire or drop dead eventually (everyone does.)

Adela | October 18, 2006 07:56 PM

Rebel, see what a google of heritage apples gives you.

Maureen M. McCarty | October 18, 2006 09:08 PM

What? No Ida Red fans? That's my favorite. They're not in at the orchard here yet, and the squirrels got ours, so I'm making do with Gala apples. I like Fuji apples too. There are some descriptions here.

Jo | October 18, 2006 09:37 PM

New Zealand has a variety called Pacific Rose, which was developed by one of our universitys.

Crisp, sweet, tart, perfectly balanced AND it ages well, continues tasting perfect as it ripens.

If you can't get them, just think of me eating one and pitying you for missing out on the perfect apple.

[ps Not denying the goodness of a Macintosh Apple]

John Scalzi | October 18, 2006 10:28 PM

I'm inexpressibly delighted we've gotten 50 comments out of people's love for apples.

Jenny Rae Rappaport | October 19, 2006 01:35 AM

I like Gala and Red Delicious for eating best of all.

Right now I've got baskets and bowls full of Rome and Stayman Winesap from when I went apple picking last week... they've been making some lovely pies, apple crips, as well as kick-ass applesauce that I canned. =)

Brandon | October 19, 2006 07:22 AM

Honeycrisps are the bomb. I have been eating them obsessively since they arrived in Atlanta a few weeks ago.

Jeff Hentosz | October 19, 2006 08:46 AM


THANK YOU. Getting tired of the Red Delicious haytin' going on. Yes, they get mealy fast. Yes, the skin is sometimes thick and bitter. But when they are fresh and cruchy and sweet, THEY ROCK! [cymbals, flash pots, crowd goes wild]

Anne C. | October 19, 2006 12:21 PM

Honeycrisp must have just got a new agent. I'd never heard of them before this year and John's the third person I've heard praise them recently. They are very good, I have to admit.

I use different apples for different purposes, but Roma, Gala, and Pink Lady (and now Honeycrisp) top my list for eating apples.

Karen Miller | October 20, 2006 05:32 AM

I will never forget my first bite of a Cox's Orange Pippin. Sigh. It was in London, in 1984. They don't really do them in Oz, which is very sad.

Tripp | October 20, 2006 12:13 PM

My first Gala was in England years ago and I still remember the great taste. I think they imported them from New Zealand.

As Kevin Q says, the single-most delicious thing I'd ever tasted timing can be everything.

One of the joys of my age is the requirment to get the test that Katie Couric made famous. The easiest part of the prep was a 36 hour fast.

After everything was all over I was VERY hungry - hungry enough to eat an egg salad sandwich from a vending machine! Wow.

It was like the best sandwich I had ever tasted in my whole life. Perfect in every way.

Matt W | October 20, 2006 02:31 PM

My wife and I went to Hawaii on our honeymoon and at a little roadside fruit stand they had "Rose Apples." I was small and whitish-pink and had one big seed that rattled around in the middle. The lady who ran it said it tasted like what a rose smells like and let us try one. It was exactly that, just concentrate the scent of a rose into a solid form and there you go. It was by far the weirdest "apple," probably the weirdest fruit I ever ate.

As favorites go, though, I'd have to go with a nice deeply red Jonathan.

Craig Mitton | October 20, 2006 08:36 PM

Honeycrisp apples good! Do you have time for a little story? Anyways... my wife often complains there is no fruit around the house, so I buy the Honeycrisp apple. The name seems to be enough of a persuasion. I used to eat apples as a kid like they were twinkies, now that I have my own income I just buy the twinkies. The point is that I can't really tell the difference by merely looking that one apple is tastier than an another. Honeycrisp was a gamble that paid off. Incidentally, the best Honeycrisp apples are grown in the Annapolis Valley (Nova Scotia Canada)just two hours drive time from where I live. Has to do with the perfect combination of sunshine and rain they receive at this precise time of year -- ahem, not to brag of course.

Late to the party | October 21, 2006 12:36 AM

I've been an apple hater most of my life. A month ago, I picked up a Michigan Honeycrisp from a farmers market here in Illinois. It was the best piece of fruit I've ever tasted. The next 3 honeycrisps I got from other farmers markets, however, were almost not worth tossing in the compost. Almost put me off apples again. But that one Honeycrisp has me scouring markets for apples, any apples, like some sort of Malus junkie.

There outta be a warning label.

Colin | October 25, 2006 08:25 PM

I think it's mildly disturbing that an apple variety has its own Web domain.
I think it's more than mildly disturbing that the mere act of composting a Honeycrisp apple core may violate IP law. If any of the seeds germinate and you decide to see how the seedlings fare as fruit trees, then congratulations, you've violated Honeycrisp's patent protection.

I'm generally in favour of people being allowed to protect the results of their creativity and hard work. On the other hand, in less than a lifetime, seed propagation has gone from a universally accepted Good Thing to an activity which can be punished by a prison sentence. I must be a hunter-gatherer at heart as I find this very troubling indeed.

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