Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

This weekend my family and I had a great time with friends conducting an apple taste taste. Kids and grownups sampled about 10 different apples and were surprised to learn just how different the textures and flavors of each can be. Despite the fact that the two youngest participants rated every apple a "5" (the highest rating available-they really like apples), the rest of us had very clear preferences. Crisp "meat" was good, thick skin was bad, dry aftertaste was bad, sweet was good, tart was only popular with a few. The most interesting discovery was that no one cared how the apple looked on the outside. The color or irregularities of the skin didn't effect us one way or another.

When I was a kid, I only remember ever eating one kind of apple, the Red Delicious (I think grocery stores also regularly carried Granny Smith as a cooking apple, and a few may have carried Golden Delicious just for pizazz). Ironically, in our taste test, Red Delicious didn't rank too high. Tough skin, flavorless, medium crisp--nothing about it was thrilling. But commercial growers and grocers love them! Why? The thick skin ships well over long distances, the shiny red exterior is attractive, and, well, it's not like you're going to taste test it in the store...so flavor is irrelevant, especially if you don't even carry an eating apple alternative.

At least, until the stores starting carrying a wider variety of apples. Ever notice how during Honeycrisp season, people are willing to pay 3 or 4x as much for an apple that actually has flavor. Go figure!

If you want a real treat, expand your horizons and go apple picking in a local orchard. Not only will you have a fresher product, but the variety is wonderful. Even better is if you can get your hands on an heirloom variety.

Below is a list of a few local picking farms that you and your family might enjoy, although I've heard that crops are down this year, so make sure to check what is available before you pack up the family van:

All Seasons Orchard

Homestead Orchard

Lang's Orchard

More Than Delicious Orchard

Prairie Sky Orchard

Royal Oak Farm Orchard

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