Macoun Apple Tree

In my 50 plus apple reviews on this blog, I have spend alot of time looking through different apple databases, orchard listings, other people’s reviews and I have seen certain apples pop up time and again. Varieties that I never had before, but was highly encouraged to seek out. It’s always a great sense of personal success when I discover one of those apples. You can add to my apple that I have tasted list – the Macoun apple.

Macoun Apple Tree

On appearance the Macoun looks a lot like a McIntosh and with good reason – it’s a cross between a McIntosh and a Jersey Black. It is a development of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station – the same group responsible for the Empire apple. The apple is named after a Canadian fruit grower.

Macoun Apple Tree

From what I read online Macouns can be a tricky apple. The flavor is at it’s peak in October, but the apple has a tendency to fall off the tree, so it’s often picked early. The tree also produce good one year and not as good the next. This is why these apples don’t have much of a commercial presences – more of just a cult following.

My Experience with this Apple on September 8, 2014 (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 8
Tartness 6
Apple Flavor 4
Sweetness 6
Juiciness 8
Where I Bought Them Tree-Mendus (Eau Claire MI)

Overall Feeling: Like I mentioned above the Macoun is a tricky apple. Picked too early and the flavor is not there. Picked too late and it’s too soft. It’s need to be like Goldilocks would want it – just right. I picked Macoun straight from the tree at Tree-Mendus Orchards in Eau Claire, Michigan. It was the second Monday of the month. The flavor wasn’t anything to write home about then, a sweeter McIntosh. Here I am eating one that has been in my fridge for 3 weeks and now the flavor has really come out. It has lost a little bit of crispiness but not enough to turn me off to it. It has a sweet, McIntosh-like flavor and is really juicy. I didn’t understand 3 weeks ago what the fuss was, but now I do. That’s the thing with apples that people don’t understand – their flavor and texture changes over time, some times for the better. A lot of later season apples are put into cold storage and then released in the winter months. Sometimes apple need a little age, like wine, cheese, or vinegar. It’s all about knowing the apple and tasting it at different times to know when it’s at it’s peak.

Macoun Apple Tree

My daughter holding a Macoun she just picked!

Below you will find my ratings for the Macoun I ate today as I was writing this post.

My Experience with this Apple on September 30, 2014 (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 7
Tartness 5
Apple Flavor 8
Sweetness 7
Juiciness 10
Where I Bought Them Tree-Mendus (Eau Claire MI)

Overall Feeling:
As you can, the apple seems juicy now and the flavor is much improved. As I said before it did loss some crispiness and a bit of tartness. I enjoy these 3 week aged Macoun a lot more than the ones I picked off the first in early September.

Where to Find Macoun Apples
The Macoun has a strong following, so I thought I would list some orchards that grow this apple. This is by no means a complete list, just a few places I was able to find online. If there no one listed in your area, let me know I will try to help you find a source.

Belltown Hill Orchards (South Glastonbury, CT)

Tree-Mendus (Eau Claire, MI)

New York
Fishkill Farms (Hopewell JCT, NY)

Does Purple Cauliflower Taste Different?

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Does Purple Cauliflower Taste Different

I have no problem admitting my basis for odd colored foods, particular purple ones – purple carrots, purple Brussels sprouts, purple snow peas, purple potatoes and of course purple cauliflower. Out of all of those I think purple cauliflower may be the prettiest (the potatoes come in a close second). I was specially inspired when I spotted a huge head of bright, vivid purple cauliflower at my local farmer’s market going for just 3 dollars. Jackpot! It was enough to serve my wife and I as a side dish for 2 nights and that was just using half of it.

“Grape Cauliflower?
It’s purple, does it taste like purple? Many of us grew up on purple iced treats on a stick that tasted well purple (some kind of fake grape flavor). Rest assured purple cauliflower does not taste like grape. It’s breathtaking purple color is all natural too unlike that other purple stuff. No GMO either.

Does Purple Cauliflower Taste Different

Does Purple Cauliflower Really Taste Different?
To answer the question that brought you here – my eyes may say that purple cauliflower should taste different but my tongue has never agreed. I have never dedicated a significant different in purple cauliflower. The purple cauliflower I have bought at the farmer’s market has been surprior in quality to the store bought I have purchased in the past.

Tahini Roast Cauliflower

How to Cook Purple Cauliflower
By far I believe the only way to cook cauliflower is to roast it. Cauliflower needs a longer cooking time than it’s cousin broccoli to really reach it’s full potential. I like to use a lot of strong spices – roasted cumin seeds, smoked paprika, ground mustard, and freshly cracked black pepper. The cauliflower really absorbs the flavor of the spice as it cooks. A couple other options are cheesy roasted cauliflower, like Alton Brown’s Cauliflower Say Cheese or my Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini (as seen in photo above).

The texture is so much better roasted than boiled. I would only boil cauliflower now if I was going to puree it for a mash or sauce. Boiled cauliflower tends to water log and taste bland.

Can I Serve Purple Cauliflower Raw?
Absolutely. What a way to liven up a veg tray. Try a combination of purple, white, orange if you really want to knock your next guest’s socks off.

Hidden Rose Apples

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Hidden Rose Apple

If you are someone that only buys their apples in a supermarket, there is an apple secret out there that you may have missed out on. Apples can be red or pink on the inside. I love surprising people with these kinds of apples. People don’t expect to see the bright color on the inside. My 3 year old daughter was especially surprised, she loves pink! I have talked about a couple other red/pink flesh apples () before. Today I am going to talk about the Hidden Rose apple.

Hidden Rose Apple

According to Specialty Produce, the Hidden Rose was discovered in the early 1960s. It was marketed to the public until the 1980s. It was originally called Newell-Kimzey, but changed to the trademarked name of Hidden Rose. The trademark is held by Dragonberry Produce of Clackamas, Oregon. The Hidden Rose apples they distribute as certified organic. You may also see it going by the name of Airlie Red Flesh, name after it’s city of origin.

Hidden Rose is a perfect name for this apple. Most people would not expect to open it up and see the rose colored flesh. Although as someone who has eaten his share of apples, I can tell from the outside. The apple has a muted yellow color, it’s almost opaque.

Hidden Rose Apple

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 8
Tartness 8
Apple Flavor 7
Sweetness 5
Juiciness 6
Where I Bought Them Tree-Mendus (Eau Claire MI)

Overall Feeling:
Hidden Rose is an apple for those that like to eat a more tart apple. It has just enough sweetness, but by no means is this a sweet apple. It’s crisp and juicy but not extremely juicy. It has a good, sharp flavor. My wife thought that this would make an excellent apple for dipping into peanut butter or your favorite nut butter. Hidden Rose would make a beautiful applesauce however it would be too tart for my taste without adding some sweetness.

Where to Find Hidden Rose apples
Here is a list of a few sources you can get Hidden Rose apples from:
Dragonberry Produce (Clackamas, Oregon)
Tree-Mendus (Eau Claire, Michigan)
Scott Farm (Dummerston, Vermont)
Thomas Paine Farms (Kings Valley, Oregon)
Maple Valley Orchards (Gillet, Wisconsin)
Melissa’s Produce

Witch Fingers Grapes – The Story of an Unique Grape

in Fruit & Vegetables

Witch Finger Grapes 2014

Let me pose a question to you – what is the shape of a grape? What is the first thing that comes to mind?

I would bet that most you are thinking things like round, oval, circular, etc. Would you be surprised to hear the answer : “shaped like a finger?” If you haven’t seen what Grapery out of Bakersfield, California is up to (you may remember them from their Cotton Candy grapes) then I am here to introduce to a grape that is shaped like a finger, and not just any finger – a Witch Finger. Are you intrigued?

Witch Fingers or Chili Pepper Grapes?
The first Witch Fingers grapes were released in 2011. I first heard about them in 2012. I had to wait for my first bite until 2013. Long before that, the Grapery had been developing these strange shaped grapes. Originally they were going by the name Chili Pepper Grapes. They do resemble the shape of some chile peppers, particularly the Thai Chile. Sounds pretty reasonable to me. However, marketing Chili pepper grapes to children probably would not work so well. Plus, I can imagine customers approaching produce stockers with questions about whether the grapes were spicy or not (you may laugh but trust me, after years working in the produce business I have heard it all).
As the Grapery was sampling them, people started saying that they look like Witch Fingers and thus Witch Fingers were born!

What’s So Special Besides the Shape?
Why should I care about a funny shaped grape? There are several reasons to care. The grapes have a texture unlike any other grape you have had before. The skin to flesh ratio is different which gives them a certain snap like no other grape available. The flavor itself is outstanding. The taste is similar to what you have had before, just turned up a few notches. Put it all together and Grapery has a hit on their hands.

Growing Challenges
Let’s not take for granted the challenges that had to be overcome to get Witch Fingers into the bag and into our mouths. Jim Beagle, CEO of Grapery, said that they are his hardest varieties to grow. The biggest challenge is something called shatter. This is when the grape detaches easily from the stem. When you buy a bag of grapes you will often find loose ones in the bottom of the bag. The greater the tendency of a grape to fall off the vine, the more you will find in the bottom of the bag and those are the grapes that tend to go bad quickly. This is why remove these grapes when I buy a bag, so I don’t waste my money. Witch Fingers’ tendency to shatter reduces their shelf life. Witch Fingers are also more susceptible to heat and wind damage. Factor all these things in and it can be hard to reach levels of production that will be economical for Grapery.

Witch Finger Grapes 2nd Variety

More Varieties of Witch Fingers
At first I only knew about the one variety of Witch Finger – a small, red grape. I recently discovered that there is more than one variety out there. I picked up a bag of Witch Fingers that were much larger in size, were black in color, and had a blunt end, instead of a point. The texture on these grapes were just as amazing as the original red one but in a different delicious way. They do not look as much like a pointy witch’s finger however the feedback Grapery received from customers is that they were indeed Witch Fingers, so they rolled with it. They have other varieties in the works that are not yet available, including a green variety you can see in this video from a ABC30 news report. The green one is still a few more years away from being commercially ready.

Will Witch Finger Grapes Be Available for Halloween?
Witch Fingers grape sound like the perfect addition to your Halloween party. Who wouldn’t want to attend a party with these grapes featured on a platter? It’s marketing genius. However trouble is they aren’t available that late in the year. Grapery is developing other Witch Fingers varieties that will ripen at different times. How cool would it be to walk into your local grocery store and see a big display of Witch Fingers grapes amongst all the bags of not-so-good-for-you candy? There is hope that one variety will be available later in the year for your Halloween party or Trick or Treaters, but it’s going to take some time before than can become a reality.

When are Witch Fingers Grape Available?
The current season runs from around July 20th to September 20th. I picked up smaller red variety in late July and the larger black variety in early September. These were the only two varieties of Witch Fingers available in 2014.

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