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Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007 07:15 pm

Crunch bunch

One Red Delicious can spoil the barrel for apple lovers

Fuji (left) and Gala apples are crisp, juicy, and aromatic varieties.
Untitled Document Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t like apples? They’re hard to come by, these genetic anomalies. When I found out that my boss was one of those people, I was rattled. How could he turn his nose up at one of nature’s simplest treats? Seriously, what else is a combination portable snack, nutritional powerhouse, gesture of goodwill (think of your first-grade teacher), and ubiquitous counter item, from airports to mini-marts? Even the universal bag of chips, with all of its virtues, doesn’t come close. Maybe these apple haters have only the Red (un)Delicious to blame. With its mealy flesh, soggy bite, and waxy, chemical-flavored skin, the lamest excuse for an apple could be wreaking more havoc than we imagine. The good news is that orchards are full of apples that blow the Red Delicious away. Here is a subjective guide to apples likely to show up at a market near you. With any luck, your own notes will soon replace mine. Chomp, chomp. · Empire — A cross between the Macintosh and the Red Delicious. She’s sweet-tart, this one. Her white flesh, set against a thin green-scarlet skin, is not too soft, not too hard on the tooth. The Empire is a great candidate for applesauce or pie, but with that plump flying-saucer shape, I’m thinking how fab she’d be dipped in caramel. · Fuji — A perfectly nice apple with a pretty pinkish blush, a medium crunch and a delicate sweetness — not boring but not the most exciting variety, either. I’ve heard it called “less assertive” and “laid-back.” The Fuji is a favorite among kids and less adventurous eaters. · Gala —Another winner for the kids; in fact, it’s so sweet, I’d liken it to pink bubble gum. Fruit forward, soft/medium bite and lunch-bag-friendly size. Would I cook with her? Maybe in apple pancakes for Saturday-morning cartoons.
· Jonagold — A cross between the Golden Delicious and the Jonathan. She’s a modern girl who doesn’t want to be characterized. She offers a crisp bite but not too hard. Her perfume is a bit like honey, and in the mouth she feels like a pear. Her skin, aglow with red and golden yellow, evokes a special, complicated experience.
· Jonathan — A tomboy apple. On the outside she’s a beautiful scarlet red, and her skin is delicate and easily bruised. On the inside, her flesh is firm and strong. Take a bite, and you’ll get citrus at the tip of your tongue. Pick her as a palate cleanser. Apple sorbet, perhaps? · Mutsu (a.k.a. Crispin) — A cross between the Golden Delicious and the Indo. The most distinctive characteristic is its size; the Mutsu can be large enough for a meal — for a family of four. Light green in color, with yellow to off-white flesh, it’ll make you think you’re on your way to eating a Granny Smith, but one bite will bring you back to reality. It’s far from tart, but it’s not really sweet, either. With my eyes closed, the watery, savory, meaty chunks remind me of jicama, a vegetable popular in Central America. Although the Mutsu could hold up well in pies, it needs to be mixed with a more assertively flavored apple for balance. · Winesap — She’s the mean girl at school who also happens to be the cheerleading captain. You love to look at her beautiful mahogany skin, complemented by her almost snow-white flesh. You take a bite, and you can’t believe you’ve bitten into a lemon. Her flesh is so tart, it almost makes you want to pucker. Her firm bite and acidic nature could make her a feisty date for fatty fondue.
Culinary questions? Contact Kim O’Donnel at
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