Guest post by Beate Schwirtlich
Hitting the road with a cup of coffee in a travel mug, my search for wild roadside apple trees begins. I find what I am looking for, a row of gnarled, unpruned wild apple trees growing side by side on a gravel road. I can see right away that some are red, others yellow, some big, some small. I pick some, open my notebook and make my predictions (or should I say guesses?). Which apple will taste best? Which will be sweetest? Which one will taste awful?
I doubt I will be able to predict which apple tastes best just by looking at them.
Smaller apples will be the most sour.
Larger, redder apples will be sweeter.
With seven apples collected, I made my on-sight predictions of how tasty I thought they would be.
1. Best tasting, crispiest. Like store bought?
2. Hard and sour, but tasty?
3. Sourest, hardest and worst tasting
4. Watery tasting, soft and mid-sweet. Pie apple?
5. Hard, tangy and flavourful. Like Granny Smith?
6. Hardest, but sweet and strong.
7. Sweet, tasty and crispy. Like Macintosh?
… drum roll …
Reordered from best to worst tasting:
6. (1) Best tasting apple. Sweet like red delicious. Not bitter.
3. (2) Very much like #2, but sweeter.
1. (3) Sour sweet taste. Slightly mealy. Is like store bought.
2. (4) Sweeter than #1 but a bitter tinge. Crispy.
7. (5) Juiciest but watery, bland and sour.
4. (6) Watery but sweet taste. Bitter aftertaste.
5. (7) Soft. Bitter smell. Bad tasting.
The apple I thought would be one of the worst tasting (it was so small) turned out to be much the best. The apple I thought would be one of the best, number 5, was awful.
Some apples were sweet, but still not that great because they were also bitter.
Usually the smaller apple of the two samples from each tree was the sweetest.
The larger apple is not the better apple. The smaller apples were as sweet or sweeter than the larger ones, and had more flavour overall.
One of the worst qualities of wild apples is a bitter tinge that otherwise sweet apples sometimes have.
All the apples were more tart and sour than many store-bought apples. However, they all generally had a stronger more intense flavour than store-bought apples ever do. Six out of seven of these apples were delicious. Next time I pick wild apples, I’m going to look for more of the hardy, small apples.
“Apples for grafting appear to have been selected commonly, not so much for their spirited flavor, as for their mildness, their size, and bearing qualities, not so much for their beauty, as for their fairness and soundness. Indeed, I have no faith in the selected lists of pomological gentlemen. Their “Favorites” and “None-suches” and “Seek-no-farthers,” when I have fruited them, commonly turn out very tame and forgetable. They are eaten with comparatively little zest, and have no real tang nor smack to them.” —from “Wild Apples” by Thoreau