THIS WEEKEND many orchards will begin harvesting Macoun, one of the most highly anticipated apples of the New England harvest.
Macoun is easily identified by its boxy shape and wine-red color, both characteristics of its Jersey Black parent. But what makes it such a coveted apple is its rich, spicy flavor, much of which it owes to its other parent, McIntosh.
Jersey Black (or Black Jersey) is long gone from America’s orchards; in 1905, S. A. Beach in his classic two-volume work, The Apples of New York wrote, “It is an old variety now practically obsolete.”
But Jersey Black’s influence lives on in Macoun. Its lenticels, or pores, were “conspicuous, numerous, and raised,” writes Beach, who notes Jersey Black’s color as “dark red, almost black, shading to a wine red” and its shape “somewhat irregular; the sides somewhat unequal.”
Beach is not impressed by Jersey’s Black’s flavor, however, calling it “agreeable, but not high in quality.” The 1909 cross with McIntosh resulting in Macoun changed all that, and Macoun has become a favorite eating apple of generations ever since.
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THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER APPLES available now in the orchard, farm stands, and grocery stores, including Gala, Honeycrisp, and McIntosh.
Activity at pick-your-owns and farm stands has been brisk so far this fall, as orchards are a relatively safe place to enjoy the outdoors during the pandemic. If you have been putting off that visit, now is the time!
Many orchards require masks, have washing stations, or other healthful practices to ensure their customers’ comfort and safety.
As always, consult our Orchard Finder to learn what is currently available at your favorite orchard or farm stand.
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OUR TOUR of New England apples and orchards continues this week with some of the sweetest places in New Hampshire and Maine.
Yes truly enjoyed your presentation learning about apples and tasting. I was just wondering where can you find Empire apples? They’re great for making apple pies. I like to use them but haven’t been able to find them this year. Any reason why? Do you know of any orchards that you carry them in Mass. or New York? Thank you.
Thank you, Cindy! I agree, Empire is a wonderful apple. They are just ripening in New England orchards, and they should begin appearing in the next week or so. If you go to the Apple Finder on our home page and type Empire in, it will show you orchards that grow them. I will be writing about Empires this coming week! Glad you enjoyed my talk.