With well over 7500 varieties of apples (Malus domestica spp.), it would be all too easy to write about a new apple variety every day for the next 20 years or so. With that being a little overwhelming, I have decided to choose my very favorite apples of the season to write about and create a Pavlovian response in each and everyone of you dear readers. Today’s apple is SunCrisp.
So, there I was waiting for a normal orchard meeting with our Orchard Manager. All of a sudden a wave of hunger came over me. I thirsted for a crisp, juicy apple. Not an entirely abnormal response given my line of work. Fortunately, right in front of me was a SunCrisp apple.
Now, SunCrisp is not your normal apple. It was “discovered” at Rutgers University and given the unceremonious name of NJ-55. (Sounds a little like a secret agent name, but, in fact, most unreleased apples are given alphanumeric names like this). It was the result of a cross between Golden Delicious and Cox Orange Pippin (another of my all-time favorites), ripens about a week after Golden Delicious, and tastes fantastic. In fact, it tastes beyond fantastic! As I grabbed that golden orb (with slight red blush–the apple, not me), I noticed the speckling on the skin and minor stem end russetting, it occurred to me, as it has over the years, that sometimes the best tasting apples are not necessarily the prettiest. And today that was certainly the truth!
The way I determine whether an apple is ready to harvest is by tasting it. Because if it don’t taste good, don’t pick it! So over the past few weeks, I have been tasting the SunCrisp wondering (mentally salivating) when they would be ready. I had several “close but no cigar” experiences, until today. Today, all the tumblers clicked and Fort Knox’s doors opened wide.
I’ll be back for more SunCrisp as they are picked over the next few days. Then I’ll just have to begin dreaming of next year’s crop. Will they be as good? Will there be as many? Will there be any? The beauty of farming is so well illustrated by the ephemeral nature of a fresh picked apple like SunCrisp, that this is why I keep doing this year after year.