We took a family tour of the orchard today to do some early taste testing and were pleasantly surprised at how many varieties are ripening already. Sure, it’s only about 1% of the apples on selected trees but still, eating your first apple of the season on August 14 is a real treat!
The first apple up was the Dolgo crab, since Lisa had asked about them on Facebook (where we publish apple photos and orchard happenings relatively frequently, if you’re not on there already). The Dolgos are far from ripe, but they’re a lovely cherry red at the moment. When the Dolgos are ripe, they’ll be deep red, almost purple.
In the purple apple category, the Vikings are deepening in color beautifully. Viking apples are some of our most difficult to pick because they’re not by-the-book ripe until the seeds turn black but by then, their texture is already suffering a bit. We try to get the sweet spot of the most aroma with a firm texture, which makes for some slow and selective apple picking.
Next to the Viking are the Duchess, a stellar pie apple. I love the Duchess for its stripes and squat shape. It’s a pretty tart apple and so doesn’t have many takers for fresh eating, but it’s one that you should try at least once. Plus, its full name is “Duchess of Oldenburg,” so you just feel classy telling your friends what you’re eating.
Finally, we tried the Pristine. They’re not quite ripe yet either, but so close! Once their background turns from green to yellow, it’s time to eat them. We probably won’t make it to market with any of these since our first market day is September 7 and we’ll need to pick all of the Pristine by then. But if you’re in the area and you want a stellar summer apple, get in touch and make plans to stop by.
Almost forgot — on the way back, we stopped by the State Fair apples. They always look, to me, like the epitome of what an apple should look like: perfect shape and a perfect shade of red. I haven’t tried the one I picked yet, but only because I was full of the rest of what I sampled!
That’s it for the early apple round-up. Centennial crabapples were also ripening and delicious, but the photo didn’t turn out. And I can’t retake it because we ate all of the apples that were in the picture. I’m sure I’ll get another shot soon.
Hope the photos hold you over until apple season!