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.

Connecticut
Belltown Hill Orchards (South Glastonbury, CT)

Michigan
Tree-Mendus (Eau Claire, MI)

New York
Fishkill Farms (Hopewell JCT, NY)

Share

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

Share

Where to Find Northern Spy Apples Michigan

“Spies for Pies” is the cry every fall for pie lovers searching for their favorite pie apple. Around these parts the Northern Spy is seen as the quintessential pie apple. Who needs a Granny Smith, when you have an apple that embodies both the tartness and a great flavor when cooked. I will take a Northern Spy any day.

Northern Spy was believed to have been discovered sometime between 1800-1849 in Rochester, New York. It is popular in my home state of Michigan as well as New York and Ontario, most of the country might not know of it’s existence. The apple has issues that many commercial orchards don’t want to deal with – odd shapes, not bright colors, suspectiable to disease like bitter pit. People’s passion for this apple has keep it alive and well in certain regions of the country.

Where to Find Northern Spy Apples in Michigan
Below you will find a list of orchards and farms that grow Northern Spy apples in Michigan. I will add other areas if there is an interest (leave a comment below if you are interested). Check with each individual farm about availability. Many you will be able to pick your own Northern Spy. Begin looking for Northern Spy in October, usually around the middle of the month. It is one of the later apples to ripen. Be wary of Northern Spy picked in September, they may not have developed their full flavor.

Detroit/Ann Arbor Metro Area
Kapnick Orchards (Britton, MI)
Wasem Fruit Farm (Milan, MI)
Blake Orchards (Armada, MI)
Erwin Orchards (South Lyon, MI)
Plymouth Orchards (Plymouth, MI)
Miller’s Big Red Apple Orchard (Romeo, MI)
Long Family Orchard & Cider Mill (Commerce Township, MI)
Brookwood Fruit Farm (Almont, MI) – besides Northern Spy, this orchard grows Novaspy, this is a Northern Spy cross with hints of vanilla flavor! They also grow the Spigold which is a Northern Spy – Golden Delicious cross that is just as good for pies and very flavorful.

Traverse City Area
King Orchards (Central Lake, MI)
Farmer White’s (Williamsburg, MI)
Altonen Orchards (Williamsburg, MI)

Southwest Michigan
Corey Lake Orchards (Three Rivers, MI)
Schultz Fruitridge Farms (Mattawan, MI)

For peeling Northern Spies for pies, I recommend this peeler from Zyliss

Share

Chestnut Crab Apples

What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say “crap apple”? Do you think of some tree growing in our yard, your neighbor’s yard, or your favorite park? Do you have childhood memories of deciding that throwing a crab apple at someone was much more fun than actually eating one?

As we grow older our palates become more sophisticated – hopefully, at least mine did. Maybe you have grown to show some appreciate for crap apples. Apple jelly anyone? Just grabbing one and eating then out of hand? Probably not. Are crab apples just not worthy of eating out of hand? Or have you just not found the right crab apple. Let me introduce to you the Chestnut Crab – the apples I am munching on as I write this post.

I have more surprises up my sleeve – the Chestnut Crab was developed by the same people that brought the world the Honeycrisp – the University of Minnesota. It was developed back in 1946. You can buy your very own tree from the famous Stark Bros Nursery.

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

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

Overall Feeling:
Wow, wow, wow, and wow so more. I love this apple. In my opinion – Best Crab apple EVER. Snack size mall, yet so flavorful. It packs the right amount of sweetness in perfect melody with it’s tart side. The flavor is rich and slightly nutty. My wife’s favorite part is the skin. We both think apples that have brown or russetting on them make for the best skin. If I wasn’t having so much fun eating them, I know they would make an excellent apple jelly or butter.

I made the mistake in 2013, of only tasting the Chestnut Crab at Whole Foods and not buying a bag. The moment they were available this year, I made sure to get myself a full bag of them. If you find them as your produce worker for a sample, do not just pass them by. They are a hard to find variety so your best bet is stores that carry more unique and heirloom apples as well as visiting a farmer’s market.

Share

Strawberry Applesauce

Have you ever purchased applesauce in the store? Did you read the ingredient list? If you did you may have seen sugar or high fructose corn syrup as added ingredients. Have you ever made your own applesauce? Does the recipe call for a 1/4 cup of sugar? Is adding sugar to applesauce really necessary? Can you have sauce that satisfies the sweet tooth without having to dump in additional ingredients? Yes you can! It all comes down to the apples you select. If you pick the right apples or right combinations of apples, the natural sugars in the apple will be enough so that no additional sugar is required.

Below you will find a list of apples that are options for no sugar added applesauce. I have three lists, one of commonly found varieties, one of less commonly found varieties, and the last one is hard to find varieties but if you can find them they are worth the effort. For the sake of this post I am assuming that you are making a smooth, not chunky applesauce. I will save any talk about chunky applesauce for another post.

Honeycrisp Apples on Tree

Common Varieties
The most popular varieties in stores today don’t necesarrily lead to the best applesauce making. Nowadays everyone wants a sweet, juicy, and crisp apple. The trouble with a crisp apple is that they take longer to break down into sauce and if they really juicy the process takes longer as well. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

Gala
This is the easiest way to add sweetness to your applesauce. Mix a few Galas in and your good to go.

Fuji
Fuji will add sweetness as well but I think Galas do have a bit more flavor so if both options are available I would stick with Galas.

Honeycrisp
Honeycrisp bring enough sweetness to the party, but their crisp texture isn’t doing you any favors. The more expensive price would also leave me to just enjoy these out of hand.

Red & Golden Delicious
America’s once delicious apples have fallen on hard times in the eyes of apple fans. Toss either Red or Golden Delicious into your sauce is a cheap way to save you on the sugar.

McIntosh
When these are first available they will be more on the tart side, but if you end up with some older Macs that have gone mushy they can be used in applesauce. They do get sweeter with age but I still don’t think they become sweet enough for no sugar added sauce.

Cameo
A later season apple that definitely packs the punch in the sweetness category.

Jazz
An apple gaining popularity depsite it’s inconsistency in flavor. Is on the sweeter side, but if Galas are available they still would be a better option.

Paula Red Apples

Less Common Varieties
These are varieties that either may be common in certain area of the country, available in some stores but not all, or ones that are reality new to the market place. With a bit of searching you should be able to find these. All of these apples are not available year round.

Ginger Gold
An early season apple that is very popular here in Michigan. A bit more tart than a Golden Delicious. Use for sauce when they are a nice yellow color, with no green.

Paula Red
Like the McIntosh, Paulas start out on the tart side. But wait a couple weeks and they will soften and get signficantly sweeter. I made an entire batch of applesauce from just Paula Reds and I didn’t feel the need to add any sugar.

Sweetie (super sweet, no flavor)
This is a new apple that is start to pop up at more and more stores. It is super sweet and lacks any acid whatsoever. I also think it lacks flavor. I can see adding them to a more tart, flavorful apple in a batch of sauce.

Kiku
A Kiku is a sport variety of a Fuji. It’s a natural mutation of a Fuji tree, that I find to taste better than Fujis in most cases.

Pinata
This apple is available around New Year’s Day and into the winter months. It has a tropical like taste and it sweet enough – more on the crisp side.

Opal
Another winter variety gaining in popularity. It’s a yellow apple that is more sweet than tart.

Golden Supreme
A yellow fleshed apple that is available before Golden Delicious.

Zestar!
Zestar! – a University of Minnesota developed apple, like the applecrisp, is available early in the season. It has a brown sugar like flavor that would do wonders in applesauce. They tend to go soft in a couple weeks, so if you have some hanging around your fridge, they would be perfect to toss into your sauce.

Sonya
A super sweet option that I would use in addition to more flavorful apples.

Pacific Rose
Same as Sonya, although slightly better in flavor when you get a good one.

Green Dragon Apples

Hard to Find, But Good Varieties

These apples are hard to extremely hard to find. They are either heirloom varieties or new ones that have limited availability. If you are able to find any of these, they all would make for excellent applesauce with no added sugar!

Pink Sugar
Just discovered this one this month. It’s super sweet, with no acidity whatsoever. I do not enjoy it for out of hand eating. It is guaranteed to sweeten up my next batch of applesauce.

Green Dragon
For super sweet apples, these have more flavor. Would work well mixed with a more tart apple.

Blondee Apples
Had these for the first time in 2013. They are sweet with a floral like flavor that was really refreshing. Ate them up to fast to try them in sauce. Sure they would make for a good addition.

Hudson’s Golden Gem
This is a Russett variety that has a brown skin with a golden color underlying. Sweet and flavorful.

Candy Crisp Apples
A more recent developed variety that is just like it’s name says, sweet as candy, more flavorful than the Sweetie or Pink Sugar I mentioned earlier.

Aurora (Golden Gala) Apples
An offspring of the ever popular Gala, the Aurora has the sweetness you need with middle of the road flavor.

Westfield’s Seek-No-Further Apples
I have only had one bite of this variety, but it was memorable enough to still make the blog. Great sweet flavor.

Pristine Apples
One of the earliest sweet apples around – Pristine is the perfect companion for all the tart apples found at the start of apple season.

Sweet Orin
Sweet with a very mild pear like flavor.

Share

Diva Apples

This is my third installment in a series of reviews of New Zealand grown apples that I found at Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati, Ohio. The first two were the Breeze and Royal Joburn varieties. The final one of the series is the Diva apple. I have enjoyed getting to try new apples when we are far removed from apple season here.

The Diva apple was developed in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, which is located on the east coast of the North Island. The climate there is dry and temperate. This area is renowned for it’s vineyards and orchards. The Diva apple is grown there by both conventional and organic means. The sample I purchased was organic. The other apples I mentioned with both conventional. It is available during late spring in the United States.

Diva Apples

The apple is a beautiful red color with light streaks of color and a round shape. The name “DIVA” goes along with the trend of giving apples short, 4 letter names – Jazz, Envy, Kiku, so and so. It’s easier to get the name boldly on the sticker of the fruit if you have a short name. From a marketing perspective it makes sense, although I don’t really love the name Diva.

Diva Apples

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

Aspect Score
Crispiness 8
Tartness 4
Apple Flavor 7
Sweetness 8
Juiciness 10
Where I Bought Them Jungle Jim's (Cincinnati OH)

Overall Feeling:
Every new apple that comes out seems to always be about two things – sweet and crisp with flavor being a distant third. I was thinking oh no not another sweet, crunchy, yet flavorless apple. This has some flavor along with a bit of acidity, so it’s more than drinking sugar water – try a Sonya apple if you want that experience. It’s super juicy. One of the juiciest apples I have ever had! Plenty of juice for juicing making.

I only purchased one of these apples to try as they were organic and imported so the price was high ($3.49 per pound).

Share

Joburn Apples

I am reviewing New Zealand apple varieties this week. First up was the Breeze apple, today I am talking about the (Royal) Joburn apple. It is another apple that is an exclusive variety of Freshco. By the name you might be thinking that this is a combination of a Braburn and a Jonathan apple like how a Jonagold is a mix of Jonathan and Golden Delicious. That sound promising. As I Googled the apple I was met with disappointment that Joburn is actually more like a Kiku apple in that is it a sport variety of another apple. Kiku apple come from a Fuji mutation and the Jobburn apple is a genetic mutation of a Braeburn apple. As you see by the appearance the Joburn has quite a bit more red than a Braeburn, in fact the entire apple was full red. Red colored apples appeal to the eye of the customer. It is why the Red Delicious become so popular and so red – yet at the expense of flavor.

Joburn Apples

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

Aspect Score
Crispiness 8
Tartness 5
Apple Flavor 6
Sweetness 6
Juiciness 8
Where I Bought Them Jungle Jim's (Cincinnati OH)

Overall Feeling: Braeburn apples you get from New Zealand I find to better than the U.S. grown ones. Domestic Braeburn are very inconsistent in quality. The Joburn is an improved Braeburn. While not my favorite apple these weren’t bad at all. Nothing I would actively seek out but if choosing amongst other apples it would have a chance. As it is a type of Braeburn you can use it the same way you would use any other Braeburn. So you can cook with it and it will hold it’s shape. Joburn is a bit sweeter than I would like for a cooking/baking apple – however it can work in the absence of better options.

Share

Breeze Apples

I recently took a trip with the family to Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina. We had an awesome time of camping, hiking, and sightseeing. On the way back from our trip I stopped at Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is a monstrous grocery store, always with something new for me to check out for the blog. They have two locations and this time I was visiting the newest one. As I hit up the vast produce department I came across a few new varieties of apples that I have not tried before. Boy was I excited! It’s rare for me to find that many varieties that I haven’t tried in one place. They are all from New Zealand. The fall season just finished in New Zealand, and they ship plenty of apples to the states (I have seen 4 new varieties total just this season). Out of all exported apples, I see more from New Zealand than any other country. The first up for review is the Breeze apple.

The Breeze apple is distributed by FreshCo. The company was founded in 1989. Breeze is their exclusive variety. It is one of the earliest apples to be harvested in New Zealand. It’s vivid, pretty red apple. It has the look, now does it have the taste to back it up?

Breeze Apples

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

Aspect Score
Crispiness 8
Tartness 4
Apple Flavor 5
Sweetness 7
Juiciness 8
Where I Bought Them Jungle Jim's (Cincinnati OH)

Overall Feeling:
A decent eating apple, sweet, but not in your face sweet. I don’t like apples that are just sweet. Mild flavor. Nothing spectacular but better than the flavorless mealy apples you find in June that are grown domestically. I would buy them again if I ever come across them. I didn’t see any of them in stores where I live.

Share

Topaz Apples

How often do you associate apples with the Czech Republic? You may have thought that they only come from our country with the exception of those Fujis from the far east. I hate to burst your bubble but American as apple pie isn’t quite right. Apples are not native to North America. They originated in Central Asia and spread into Europe to countries like the Czech Republic. This is the same country that the growing in popularity Opal apple comes from. In fact the apple I am going to review today is a parent of the Opal apple. The Topaz apple originated in the Czech Republic in the 1990s. It is known for being a disease resistant apple, good news for apple growers.

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

Aspect Score
Crispiness 7
Tartness 8
Apple Flavor 8
Sweetness 3
Juiciness 8
Where I Bought Them Busch's (Saline MI)

Topaz Apples

Overall Feeling: If you are a fan of a more tart apple, then you will enjoy Topaz. It has a sharp, clean tart flavor that is juicy and enjoyable. I do not feel it’s too tart to enjoy out of a hand. A good altertnative during the winter months to the Granny Smith. This apple would make an excellent dessert apple. My wife really wants to try use them for some cinnamon fried apples. Would be a great option for pie, although I do like an apple that is a little drier for pie, Topaz I am sure would work.

Where to Find Topaz Apples?
I got mine at my neighborhood Busch’s store. This is the only place I have seen this apples. The sticker that came with the apple did not provide me with any information on who grew the apple. If anyone else has spotted this apple, please share where you got it and what you think of it.

Share

Green Dragon Apples

Anyone that know me, knows how I excited I get to try a new piece of fruit. I am searching them out all the time. Sometimes when searching for new produce to try, a name can attract my attention. When I saw the Green Dragon apple on Frieda’s Specialty Produce website, I was intrigued. At least it’s a great name. You also don’t see a ton of green apples not named Granny Smith on the market. When some arrived at my front door I couldn’t wait for that first bite.

Green Dragon originated in Japan. It’s a cross between an Orin or an Indo apple (I read both online, not sure which it is really is) and a Golden Delicious. It’s an heirloom variety that Frieda’s is trying to get the word out about. It’s green with small brown spots. To avoid people thinking these spots mean the fruit is bad, Frieda’s has started putting stickers on the apples that say “Freckled Skin”. They are a later season apple, being made available in October and November.

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

Aspect Score
Crispiness 8
Tartness 1
Apple Flavor 7
Sweetness 8
Juiciness 8

Overall Feeling: People think that green apples must be tart, like it’s some universal law. If they ever bit into a Green Dragon their story would change in a hurry. This apple is anything but tart. Hard to find any tartness in it. It’s a pure sweet as they get. If you like tartness in your apples, your not going to like this one. But if you are a sweet apple fan, fan of the modern day sweet favorites like Galas or Fujis then you are in for a treat with this apple. It has a better, more complex flavor than those popular apples. To me it has hints of tropical and pear flavors. The apple has that pear like sweetness. Juicy and refreshing. Green Dragon are best enjoyed right out of hand. Not enough tartness for me to want to cook with.

Look for Green Dragon apples wherever you find Frieda’s products. Ask your store’s produce manager about availability. The crop is said to be bigger this year but they are still in short supply, so don’t hesitate.

Share
The Pea Project - My Gardening Blog

Featured On:

my foodgawker gallery