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Sunday, November 20, 2016


A bit late with this rumination, but – apples!

Stopped at Z’s Country Market today on my way back from Lebanon. It's a grocery owned by Mennonites, with bonneted girls in their homemade dresses and gym shoes working the registers. Local produce here, from local fruits and veggies to backyard honey and stone ground, non-GMO flours. 

Happiness—for me, anyhow—can be found hanging over a big wooden bin of apples. Different kinds, different bins, from the newish Crispin, Macoun  and Cameo, to the elder apple statesmen, Cortlands, Macintosh, Staymans, Ida Red, and Winesaps. (You will notice that I haven’t mentioned “Delicious.” Poor things, they’ve been bred to be perfect for shipping, which has made them bland and dry. They  have a bin, too, but I don’t bother.)

The fact that I’m leaning over the side and searching means that these apples have been off the trees for a few weeks now. Still, they are local, and haven’t traveled across the universe.  I’m trying hand to nose and gentle touch to discover how long they’ve been store-bound, and hoping I can find the tastiest ones.   

Every season I attempt to eat as many varieties of local apples as I can, hoping to refresh my personal sensory image of each kind. I’ve noticed that year to year, the taste changes a little. I’ll find some, miss others, depending on bloom time or if there was a killing late frost. This year, a freeze got the apricots and most peaches in our area, much to everyone’s sorrow.

I wish someone would plant Goldrush in this area, for this is my latest favorite. I’m told they are not new, but a recently revived heritage breed, one which doesn’t need a lot of pesticide to fight off the various plagues. I find I can keep Goldrush into March. Yes, they do wither, but they can still sock it to your taste buds and to their last moment make a spicy, tangy sauce.

~~Juliet Waldron

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