Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Apple Taste Test 2014

The results are in! We put eight apples head to head to see which ones excel in both taste and texture.

Eight Apples Head to Head
There is one discrepancy though, the apples used in the study were purchased from the local supermarket, so their degree of freshness varied. I love the mild flavor, thin skin, and crisp, juicy flesh of a gala apple, but the ones used in this taste test were a bit on the mushy side. The following is an introduction and brief description of the apples used in the taste test.

Whole Apples Before the Taste
  • McIntosh- Glossy red skin flushed with small patches of green and yellow. Snow white, soft flesh with a tangy, full apple flavor.
  • Jonagold- Modeled red and yellow skin with distinct freckles. Crisp flesh with mild flavor that is balanced sweet and sour.
  • Red Delicious- Tough, dark red skin with cream colored flesh. Bland, sweet and starchy flavor.
  • Sweetie- Yellow-orange skin flushed with small patches of red. Very sweet, crisp, juicy flesh with little flavor other than sweet.
  • Gala- Equal red and yellow striations, so skin appears orange. Mild flavor with crisp, juicy flesh.
  • Sweet Tango - Green and red skin. Mildly sweet taste with a nutty flavor.
  • Golden Delicious- Bright yellow skin with an occasional flush of red. Well balanced, mild sweet and sour flesh.
  • Braeburn- Red-orange skin. Crisp, juicy, tart flesh bursting with flavor. Excellent balance between sweet and tart.

Before the Apple Taste Test
And the winning apple is, [Drum roll please] Braeburn! Second place goes to Jonagold. Third is a tie between Sweetie and McIntosh, but that is like comparing apples and oranges, even though we really are comparing apples to apples. These two apples were opposite. Where one excelled the other faltered. The Sweetie had a great texture and a sweet flavor that gave its name justice. The McIntosh apple out did the Sweetie in flavor, but flavor can be personal and preferences differ from one person to another. When it comes to apples, I like mine on the tart side, but I want the sweetness to balance and compliment the tart. So the McIntosh apple wins over the Sweetie in flavor, but lacked in texture, so I give them a tie for third place.

The clear looser of the apples tasted in the test was the Red Delicious, but who is surprised by that? Poor texture bland flavor and thick bitter skin, the red delicious is...red, I'll give it that.

The next apple on the lower end of the scale was the Sweet Tango Apple. Plain and mild, moderately sweet with nothing tart to offset the sweet. It did have an unusual nutty flavor, unique but not excellent.

The apples that neither failed or excelled were the Golden Delicious and the Gala, both good apples, they just play it safe. Not pushing the envelope in any direction.

Like I mentioned earlier, flavor and texture can be personal. Tastes can trigger memories of places and loved ones, so it's hard to say that any apple is not worth eating. When I was in school I would often take a short cut through the apple orchards on campus, (actually they were on the far end of campus so there was nothing short about my way through the orchard) I would pull an apple from one tree in one hand and another in the other hand, take a bite of each and toss the one that lost. I would continue this process until I reached the end if the row. Nearly every time I would finish the winning McIntosh on my way to class. Every time I eat a McIntosh it takes me back to my walks in the orchard. When I did last week's tasting I tried to keep it professional and made my choices based  on flavor and texture alone.

The other factor mentioned earlier is that apples straight from the tree at their peak of ripeness are always amazing. Store bought apples just can't compare. The apples I purchased from the store all had a long journey, some longer than others. Taste and texture are all influenced by freshness. Some apples purchased in the store were harvested in 2013. They could be a year old! So it's not fair to compare a year old apple with one that was harvested just a month or two prior to being displayed in the supermarket.

I don't want to discount store bought. Not everyone can grow their own apples and supply and demand varies during the year. It's amazing to think that we can enjoy several apple varieties 365 days a year thanks to modern agriculture and distribution practices that just continue getting better each and every year.

I do encourage growing your own fruit whenever possible. Not only do you get fresher, tastier fruit; you get the pride and satisfaction of producing it on your own in your very own back yard, which in my opinion contributes to the taste.

I hope that you enjoyed this post and I encourage you to stage your very own apple taste test. Maybe I insulted your favorite apple and you would like a retest or you feel like the Fuji and Granny Smith should have been included? Let me know your thoughts and the results of your test. I look forward to connecting with you and I hope that you will eat more fruit and grow more of your own food. I can be reached via email at russ@simplytreesut.com or comment below.