Farmer's market taste-test features several apple varieties

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 16, 2011

By Sherry Walker
Master Gardener Volunteer
The crunch filled the ears and juice squirted forth, landing on the shirt and trickling down the chin.
“Mmmmmm, sweet yet a little tart,” said the taste buds.
“Should have bought more” said the inner voice.
This could have been your inner voice after purchasing apples at the farmers market. The Rowan County Master Gardeners held an apple tasting on Saturday at the farmer’s market, and a few varieties sold out. Five varieties were taste tested by anyone who wanted to participate or was just hungry.
All varieties tested were eating apples rather than specific to cooking. There was a tie among the gala and the honeycrisp varieties for overall preference. For those checking for their taste preference, the gala was B in the test and the honeycrisp was labeled C. The Fuji apple, labeled D, was the third preference, followed by Mutsu, which was variety A. The least preferred variety was E, the red delicious. It is clear the preference was for the sweeter gala and honeycrisp, but just as is the case with wine, everyone tastes things differently, and preference is an individual choice.
About the apples: Gala is a very sweet apple with a rosy dappled skin, whereas the honeycrisp is sweet balanced with a hint of tartness. The honeycrisp has a nice crunch and is very juicy. Mutsu is suitable for eating fresh or baking. Its flavor is tangy with a little sweetness, and its skin is light greenish yellow when ripe. Fuji is another sweet apple good for snacking or used fresh in salads. It is low in acidity and similar to the gala in color. Conversely, the red delicious is deep red in color and sweet, but less so than gala, honeycrisp and Fuji varieties.
All apples in the taste test were available at the market from the vendors, and all were North Carolina grown. If you missed the apple tasting, you can go to the market Saturday and buy apples to do your own tasting at home. Better yet, invite some friends over for an informal tasting at home, knowing you are supporting local vendors and apple growers in North Carolina.
Sherry Walker is an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in Rowan County.