Apples are among the highest glories of human culture. That’s why it’s exciting when B.C. Tree Fruits, the corporation that markets Okanagan apples (and Okanogan apples, too), to the supermarket industry, releases a new one. Their latest is half-released as you read this. For a limited time you can pick one up in 12 Safeway stores in British Columbia, for the inviting price of 99 cents a pound. What they’re looking for is feedback, and a name, if you have one. Right now, they call it “Red Apple”. Here’s the way they market it on FaceBook:
An Un-named Stranger Rides Into Town Source
And here’s what one looks like after it sat in Safeway for a week, wrapped up in straw, just inside the door, and I saved it and brought it home in honour:
Blushing Yellow Apple
Waxy, too. Reminds me of a Winter Banana or a Newtown Pippin with a tan.
Here it is doing a somersault.
Orange Apple Standing on Its Head
It looks like a late ripening variety: note the cut stem, like a Northern Spy. Some of those things, that’s the only way to get them off the tree. They do so hang on. That mildew from water collecting in the deep stem bowl isn’t so pretty, mind you. It really shows up on the shelf. Perhaps they’re planning on marketing it as an organic variety, where such niceties don’t matter. Let’s hope so.
And here it is, the moment we’ve been waiting for, the unveiling:
Nice Looking Apple from this View, eh!
Big flat seeds. Yellow flesh. Pale aroma.
Ah, but what does it taste like? It all comes down to that, doesn’t it. Well, after a week in Safeway, and who knows how long in the packing house before that, it still had a nice solid (but not snappy) crunch, tasted most excellently of cold storage, with lingering sweetness that hadn’t yet evaporated, very low acidity, and, all in all, god I hate to say this, dull.
Compare that to that evening in 1991 when we tasted the first Ambrosia in Cawston (OK, I’d tasted one on the way, while gathering apples for the evening, and no doubt a few other orchard wanderers had chanced upon the tree), set up against such wonderful apples as a Kandil Sinap, a Maigold, a Spigold, a Jonagold, a Ribston Pippin, and even a Fuji, if I remember right. Among three experienced farmers, it was the favourite (not mine, mine was the Ribston Pippin), and it was named right there and then. (Stupidly, I chose a different name. Luckily, it didn’t stick.) It has gone on to great success.
Compared to it, this one seems more destined to go the way of the Sunrise or the Sumac or the Shamrock, all from Summerland in the 1980s, all pretty, all rather great off the tree, all rather bland once they’re picked (usually immature), stored, commercially packed, and offered for sale — all virtually forgotten.
3 likes on FaceBook. Maybe that says it all. But red? Even in the store it doesn’t look red.