— D. Bradley
The annual Alaskan-grown apple tasting was held at Bradley’s in Peters Creek on Sept. 25, 1999. About 30 people were there, and 19 rated the apples. We tasted 31 varieties of apples, a dozen repeats of these same varieties, two varieties of pear, and one each apricot and plum. The highest-rated apples this year were Red Duchess (grown by Torn Marshall), Norland (grown by Patrick Carney), Parkland (grown by Bob Boyer), Oriole (grown by Tom Marshall), and Viking (grown by Bob Boyer). Pat Carney brought two Norlands which we tasted blind. His “Patrick #2”, grown in a pot, was the more highly rated of the two, and second overall.
Bob and Marianne Boyer tested each variety for sugar content; we were surprised as usual at some of the results. Out of curiosity, I plotted the tasting score (horizontal axis) versus sugar content. In the graph below, there is at best a weak correlation between sugar content and score. Eight out of 9 apples with sugar as low as 10.5 or 11 scored among the lowest for taste. However, the two ringers with sugar content of 17%—Dolgo and Centennial— don’t fit the pattern too well.
The next table ranks the Alaskan-grown varieties that have been tasted over the past six years, since I’ve been keeping track. The order is highly subjective, based on years in the top ten, and number of years ranked in the top three. Ginger Gold, Oriole, Parkland, and Norland are the clear front-runners. Mantet, Viking, and Red Duchess have each placed first, but other years they have barely been edible — they don’t ripen every year and when they don’t they are worthless.
A caveat on Norland and Parkland. These apples have, indeed, finished in the top 10 most years and #2 or #3 fairly regularly. However, we usually sample three or four Norlands and Parklands, and it is only the highest scoring ones that finish in the top 10. Although the highest-rated Norland ranked second, the average score of four Norlands would have ranked eighth. Likewise for the three Parklands: one was rated highly, the rest back in the pack.
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