AK Pioneer Fruit Growers Association

Apple tasting 1988
March 9, 1988

The Alaska chapter held its fourth annual apple tasting party at the October meeting. 32-35 people attended, including photographers from the two Anchorage newspapers.

Lawrence Clark opened the meeting by passing around an unknown apple, but no one correctly guessed its identity to win $5. The apple was “Kerrybrook”, a Canadian cultivar.

A total of 39 varieties of Alaska grown apples were available to look at, although time and appetite did not allow tasting every one. Rich Raynor and Erik Simpson cut up the apples while Bob Purvis describe each one and Bob Boyer and Patrick Wright served them to the other members.

The “Chinese Golden Early” apples were in remarkably good condition and tasted good also. Much larger and slightly more tart were the “Vista Bella” and “Geneva Early” apples donated by Jay and Doris Dearborn. Rich Raynor and Erik Simpson examined Dearborn’s unknown and “Northland” apples and concluded they were both “Norland”. Texture and flavor were very good indicating that all three of these varieties should be more widely planted.

The Dearborn “D” seedling rated very good on flavor and crispness and the “C” seedling was not sampled since it is a cooking apple. As of October 15th, however, the “C” seedling was good eating. The “J” seedling was 2 and a quarter inches across, yellow green, and mild flavored.

The “Norhey” apples from Fairbanks courtesy of the Agricultural Experiment Station had a somewhat inferior flavor to last year’s crop. The “Norcue”, as of October 17th, was crisp and somewhat like eating a good Bartlett pear. “Norcue” is the earliest ripening, hardiest and smallest of the 6 Beaverlodge “Nor-” series.

Two “Parkland” apples, picked September 5th and 17th in Gene Dinkel’s Wasilla orchard, were rated outstanding on flavor, color (deep pink to red) and texture. They were fully ripe. Elmer Jesky’s “Hazen” apples were barrel-shaped, a very dark red colored, and a very distinctive flavor. His 8 year old tree yielded 79 apples this past month. The “Royal Gala” apples borne by another tree of his were, by contrast, overripe and of mealy texture. The “Parkland“ and “Hazen” and the “Oriole” apples donated by Tom Marshall and Ron Glaser, were possibly the best we sampled that evening.

The “Mantet” scion which Bob Purvis grafted to a “Beautiful Arcade” rootstock in March of 1986 produced one Apple in 1988, 2 and a half inches across and yellowish green. Picked September 13th, it was ripe for the party, juicy and highly flavored — a real encouragement to others with juvenile “Mantet” at trees.

The 1988 harvest yielded some real surprises. The “rescue” applecrabs donated by Sandy Pernham were sweeter and less spicy than in past years, but the real surprise was the “Heyer #12” Applecrabs. Straw yellow in color, they were crisp and very juicy, with a brisk, moderately acid flavor. There was enough sugar present that most who tried them liked them

Another pleasant surprise was the “Carroll” apples from Herb James’ tree and from Eckert orchard. They were very close to ripe; flavor and texture were outstanding. The “Viking” apple Tom Moore donated from his 4 year old tree was extremely hard, but it too had a pretty good flavor.

A 5 year old branch of “Red June” on a “Dolgo” crab rootstock yielded dozens of apples for John Loomis this year. They were fully right, moderately firm, and drew many favorable comments. They were sweeter than some sent from Washington State in 1986. His “Hoopes” crabapple were among the tastierr crabs we sampled, and they are terrific when baked.

Spending two and a half weeks in a plastic bag with a ripe banana did wonders for the “Summerred” apples from Paul Robinson and Jay Dearborn’s trees. They were like “Summerreds” normally taste in January — sweet, not tart

Dale Hall’s orchard provided some brightly colored “State Fair” and “Sweet 16” apples which rated very good on both flavor and texture. Both were two and a half inches in diameter. The “Haralred” apple is ripe enough to be fairly pleasant eating in spite of being a late ripener for Anchorage.

The “Collet” we sampled was definitely underripe, and likewise the “McLain”. The “Summer Treat” apples from Elmer Jeske’s tree were much better. Rated as good were the “Whitney” crabs and “Gravensteins” from the tree at 2101 Stanford in College Village. The only apple rated truly sour by everyone was the “Edith” (or “Ellen”?) Smith apples from Alberta Rigsbee’s trees on Borealis.

At the close of the meeting we sampled 5 pies: one each of “Wealthy” and “Red Duchess” baked by Eva Stevens, two of “Hyer #12” baked by Mary Karle, and one of “Westland” baked by Dorothy Emmons. The “Westland” was especially outstanding, but they were all tasty.

In addition to all the apples we had samples of “Meteor” and “Northstar” tart cherries and Nanking bush cherries, plus Manchurian plums and apricots.

Many thanks to all who donated apples baking skills and time to make this meeting a success.

-R Purvis

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