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Sweet Bough: The Apple Chronicles

As I think I mentioned, I planted an embarrassment of fruit trees this spring.  Eight apple trees (in little clumps of 2-4 each), two cherries, two peaches, and a fig. 

Today, I harvested the first fruit of my labor.  Now, I bought small whip yearlings of semi-dwarf stock, so there was no reason to believe I'd have any fruit whatsoever for at least three or four years.  Even worse, I put the trees in a bit late because we had such strange weather (snow for a good six weeks past usual frost) and even more worse, the trees came from a completely different (and much milder) zone in northern Cali. 

But despite it all, my young trees took off, and a couple of them bloomed.

I was delighted to discover, late in the spring, two young apples.  One was reabsorbed or eaten by the squirrel mafia, but one small apple remained.  The summer trundled on, wet and lovely and beautifully mild for us, and the apple grew and grew.  Finally, it appeared fully apple-sized.  The fruit I bought from our local farmers market was smaller than the fruit I had on my tall leafy twig.  Weird.  I let it be, and let it be, and then today I discovered it had blushed as rosy as Nanny Ogg's cheeks. 

Very carefully, I held the apple, weighing it, thanking the tree, smiling with the glow of a summer-warm girl in the comfort of her own owned land, and I twisted up and off she came.  My own very first apple.  Sweet Bough.

Early apples are notoriously untasty, but I am a canny researcher.  I had purchased a wide variety of heirloom apples famed for their flavor, including a couple early apples.  My baby orchard boasts both Red Gravenstein (a sport of regular Gravenstein that supposedly enjoys the heat more) and Sweet Bough, widely considered by Coxe and other early-American growers (including in the South) to be one of the few early apples worth growing for flavor. 

I am startled to report that.....I agree.

We placed our Sweet Bough upon the cutting board, sliced her up, and tasted her.  Within about twenty seconds, the entire apple was gone.  My taste report is as follows:
Surprisingly crisp.  Not cool-weather Honeycrisp crisp (what is?), but a good deal crisper than the current crop of Galas available locally.  It was juicy without being wet--that is, nicely wet when bitten, but it did not pour juice down its side. The flesh was not at all mealy (awesome!) but instead nicely firm.  The taste was what really set it apart--sprightly.  Bright flavors, sweet, tangy, but nothing like the bitter or sharp cousins you get off many organic trees (where you wonder if things just went oddly awry). 

It wasn't a dark round flavor, like the Arkansas Black, but instead very light, pale summery honey gold.  Absolutely delightful. 

My mom is quite picky about her apples, and she said, surprised, 'It doesn't need hummous or anything!'  We both agreed that it was a very surprising apple to eat in August of all times, when normally you just would not get good fruit anywhere.  (It is basically the tail end of the storage apples so they're mealy or the too-early underripe types from far-away). 

Two thumbs up: Would nom again!

sweet bough apple on cutting board


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 18th, 2013 01:18 am (UTC)

It sounds lovely! Congratulations!

Aug. 18th, 2013 01:43 am (UTC)
I am so excited about these trees! By the way, I got the Grimes Golden you mentioned, and it's done super well. It's also supposed to be a good pollinator.

Someday, I'm hoping I'll have enough exciting apples to send to friends!
Aug. 18th, 2013 01:07 pm (UTC)
Ohhh, how lovely. Congratulations.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )