Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Strange New World Of Apples

"Can you stop by the farmers' market and pick up some apples, please?" my wife asked me this morning.

"Of course. Not a problem," I replied. Not a problem at all. I've bought hundreds and hundreds of apples over the years. I know how to pick a good apple. This was a very simple request.

Or so I thought. Turns out, it was not simple. It was quite challenging, in fact.

The problem: I typically don't buy my apples at the farmers' market. I buy them at the supermarket. And I never select loose apples from a bin. Rather, I select pre-packaged apples. I still inspect them for brown spots and whatnot, but otherwise I feel comfortable with bagged fruit. It's more convenient, and I trust that what the supermarket is selling me is fresh.

The supermarkets I frequent only carry a small variety of apples: Gala, Honeycrisp, McIntosh...the kinds of apples we're all familiar with and consume regularly.

Well, a whole other world of apples exists at the farmers' market. A world I didn't know existed. This was a personal discovery akin to astronomers recently uncovering seven planets orbiting the TRAPPIST-1 star. For me, it was the same stunned reaction: Wait, more apples are out there?

Much like the planets, little is known about these new apples. Or, to be more accurate, I knew little about these new apples. Yes, there were signs explaining each variety, but I couldn't get past the names.

Jonagold? Idared? Idaknow what those are.


I see there's a Winesap apple...AND a Stayman's Winesap apple?

More confused.

Newtown Pippin? Really? Is it an apple or a Broadway musical?

Officially confused.

(Apologies for the off-center photos. As I've written before, photographing food sold by local vendors makes me nervous.)

Having never heard of, let alone sampled, most of these apples before, I had two options: 1) Frantically Google each variety of apple and see what others had to say about it, or 2) stick with the varieties I know, which is what I ended up doing.

Even that was a struggle. There were no pre-packaged apples at this farmers' market. It was a brave new world, indeed. Life is different over there. I inspected some Galas and bagged them myself, then forked over the cash and left without learning the difference between a Winesap and a Stayman's Winesap.

I took the experience as a strong signal that I should continue to buy pre-packaged apples — less-mysterious apples — at the supermarket. There's no chance of finding a bag of Newtown Pippins at the supermarket. That's the kind of world I want to live in.

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