“An apple tree–and away back here!” exclaimed Anne delightedly.
“Yes, a veritable apple-bearing apple tree, too, here in the very midst
of pines and beeches, a mile away from any orchard. I was here one day
last spring and found it, all white with blossom. So I resolved I’d come
again in the fall and see if it had been apples. See, it’s loaded. They
look good, too–tawny as russets but with a dusky red cheek. Most wild
seedlings are green and uninviting.”
“I suppose it sprang years ago from some chance-sown seed,” said Anne
dreamily. “And how it has grown and flourished and held its own here all
alone among aliens, the brave determined thing!”
“Here’s a fallen tree with a cushion of moss. Sit down, Anne–it will
serve for a woodland throne. I’ll climb for some apples. They all grow
high–the tree had to reach up to the sunlight.”
The apples proved to be delicious. Under the tawny skin was a white,
white flesh, faintly veined with red; and, besides their own proper
apple taste, they had a certain wild, delightful tang no orchard-grown
apple ever possessed.
“The fatal apple of Eden couldn’t have had a rarer flavor,” commented
Anne. —LM Montgomery, Anne of the Island
Schatzi: I ended up going through the tasting lines at the Portland Nursery’s Fall Apple Tasting three separate times this past Friday, with three different parties. I ingested a lot of apples that day. And freshly pressed apple cider. Did I mention the pears? Yeah, a number of those, too. But don’t worry: you can still make it down there yourself, because the Apple Tasting runs this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as well, from 10am til 5pm.
As in years past, the Portland Nursery provides a list of the varieties available for tasting and purchase, and also a handy list of the qualities of certain apples: sweet, crisp, good keeper, good for baking, etc. If you can’t find the apple you’re looking for here, you can’t find it anywhere. One note: very few of the European pears they had out for tasting on Friday seemed ripe, though the Asian pears were. There were a few ripe pears, but bear that in mind when tasting them.
I decided on four apple varieties to purchase: Lady, Spitzenburg, Cox’s Orange Pippin, and Ginger Golden. The latter I bought just to eat out of hand; they were grown from a chance seedling in West Virginia, much like Anne’s apples above, though the Ginger Golden is a slightly spicy Golden Delicious, a variety of which I am not usually fond, but like hers, they have a lovely sweet tang. Cox’s Orange Pippin is a English variety dating from the 1820s, and was unavailable the last time I attended the Apple Tasting, so I was very excited to find it–and with good reason. Though smaller than many modern apples, this variety is dense and tart, perfect for cooking and baking. The Spitzenburg was initially unavailable on Friday, a grave disappointment for my friend Josh, who longed to sample Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple. I late found them in the bins, however, and a nice lady told us that they were in the tasting line, too, so we dashed back there to try it, and thus found a perfect apple. Complexly tart and sweetly flavorful, with a crisp, dense feel, Malia declared it just the apple she needed. I bought four pounds worth. The Lady is another heirloom apple, dating to seventeenth century France. They are tiny and beautifully colored, which makes them popular as decorations. Lady apples also taste fantastic; I bought three pounds of them.
Varieties I enjoyed but didn’t purchase include: Cortland, a McIntosh cross that is actually very tasty, but was sadly unavailable for purchase. King David, a late nineteenth century apple out of Arkansas, was an excellent candidate for pies and applesauce. Northern Spy and Newtown Pippin were two excellent older all-purpose varieties; the former was an American favorite during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the latter was an eighteenth century variety favored by George Washington. The Virginia Winesap was wonderfully aromatic, and I was surprised by the Original Red Delicious, which was nothing like the supermarket varieties of today.
Portland Nursery at 5050 SE Stark
Friday, Saturday, Sunday
October 17, 18, 19
10:00 am – 5:00 pm