I am absolutely crazy for apples. I adore them. I cannot get through a day without at least one apple, honestly. My apple obsession began years ago – and I’m not entirely sure as to the reason. In fact, I actually prefer the taste of seasonal fruit to apples in summer. There is nothing more amazing in the midst of summer than biting into the juicy flesh of a perfectly ripe peach, the sweetness ever so sublime. Then fresh picked berries, tart yet sweet, and absolutely superb. Even a winter pear can prove itself to be an immaculate experience at just the right time. Yet, I constantly go back to my beloved apples. A friend once told me that she believed the reason for my magnetic pull to the forbidden fruit….hmmm….is the crunch. Very true. I do LOVE the crisp bite of the perfect apple. “Ashley, it’s a metaphor for life. You like to take a bite out of life!”
I like all sorts of apples. Over 6,000 different types of apples exist. I’ve tried close to 50, I believe. I have a long way to go.
My tendency is toward the tart end of the spectrum – there is actually an apple spectrum. Pink Ladies are by far my favorite of the commonly available apples. As the Pink Lady season comes to an end each year, I do shed a few tears. My good friend John is constantly trying to pull me in the direction of the oh so popular Honeycrisp. They are not bad, but they just don’t do it for me. I love a good Granny Smith at the height of the season, when the fruits display just a hint of sweet delight. Ambrosia, Jazz, even Rome (when they are not too mealy) will assist in my fix. Amateurs don’t realize how luscious and complex a fruit the apple can be.
At the beginning of November, one of the local food coops hosted a heirloom apple tasting. Heirloom apples are entirely new to me, since having moved to the Pacific Northwest. This is my first apple season here – oh my gosh. Heaven on earth! I cannot even attempt to convey my excitement about the event and the season. Crazy for Apples.
Unfortunately, I missed the tasting, but showed up for PLENTY of new varieties. I bought 10 different flavors in just one day!! Melrose, Cortland (LOVE it), Empire, Grimes Golden,…the list goes on….these were all exceptionally fine apples.
My absolute favorite of the day, though….
The thin skin is a greenish brown color – and the flesh inside is a vibrant scarlet!! UNBELIEVABLE!!! The taste is amazingly delicious.
It’s not the fruit’s solid, sweet-tart flavor or crisp, juicy texture that has us banking on sugary victory this year, though those attributes are certainly ideal. Rather, it’s the namesake flesh, which is rose-colored to the core. This reddish stain, which persists even when cooked, demands the central position on your table. The apples are the project of a small family farm in Oregon called Hood River Organics. The farm has cultivated the rare strain despite its lengthy and difficult growing process, once-a-year harvest and delicate skin (many of the apples become blemished easily). But the farm’s efforts are our rewards. The apple is bracingly acidic with the warm sweetness of strawberries. And the fruit’s beauty tops even its flavor. Hood River Organics is the sole farm producing the Mountain Rose domestically.
My delightful dear husband made a trip to the coop one afternoon without me. He arrived home with a bag filled to the brim with another dozen heirloom varieties, including the Mountain Rose. He said, “I’m sorry I bought you so many apples, I know the fridge is already full.” I laughed almost hysterically. “You can never buy me too many apples. Thank you, honey.”
I am Crazy for Mountain Rose.