have made the good people of Franklin shun the bloody-heart
apples, but they did just the opposite, perhaps in part because
the apples were unusually delicious. They eagerly grafted the
original tree, and soon every farmer in Franklin was growing the
curiosities — and promoting the legend. The apple itself seems to
have disappeared sometime after 1888, but now I have grafted the
tale onto the stem of the Redfield, where, with luck, it will take.
aLIas: early transparent, June transparent, white transparent
orIGIn: russia, 1800s.
appearanCe: a large, round, bright yellow beauty with pale
skin and bubbly green dots.
fLaVor: Light and lemony. Quite refreshing. never overly sweet.
texture: tender, tender, tender.
season: June to late July, depending on region.
use: eat fresh before it knows it’s been picked. superb in sauce.
auto repair shop.” The tree was in a patch of grass, possibly
saved by growing right on the property line. “It was dropping
fruit on the hoods of cars in both parking lots. I went to the
owner of the auto repair shop and said, ‘Please don’t ever cut
down this tree.’ He said, ‘I would never cut down that tree. I
love that tree.’” Bunker now has a collection of fruiting Kavanaghs on his property, and has sold hundreds of trees through
Fedco. Long live the Cathead.
orIGIn: Geneva, new york, 1938. (Cross of wolf river and
appearanCe: a hearty, vivid red, Golden delicious –sized
apple. Inside, the flesh is red beneath the skin and white in the
middle strip, with a blood-red heart.
fLaVor: Very tart and aromatic, like a sour cherry.
texture: Crisp and firm, with chewy skin.
season: Late fall.
use: makes a crazy pie. achieves greatness in hard cider.
reGIon: Grown by a handful of aficionados in the northeast.
you know sometHInG’s up with a Redfield apple tree in
spring, when it unveils startling pink petals etched with white
squiggles. That color is made by anthocyanins, the same pigments that make raspberries red. Redfield trees are veritable
fountains of anthocyanins, which turn the blossoms fuchsia, the
leaves coppery, the apple skins rich red, and the flesh vivid pink.
They also impart a cherry-berry flavor.
Although Redfield is not an old variety, it makes me think of
the legend of Micah Rood. In 1888, the New York Times published a
story about Micah Rood apples, which arrived in Connecticut markets each fall from the town of Franklin. The apples had “
cherry-red skin” and a “snowy interior,” but their defining characteristic
was “a large red globule near the heart of the fruit resembling a
drop of blood.” The orchardists of Franklin, nearly all of whom
possessed some Micah Rood trees, explained that the apple was
named for a Franklin farmer from the early 1700s. Micah Rood
was a strange old coot, described by his peers as avaricious and indolent. One day a traveling peddler who had headed toward Rood’s
farm, looking for a spot to rest his head for the night, was found
murdered beneath Rood’s apple tree the following morning, his
money gone. Although suspicion settled heavily on Rood, there
was no evidence— until the following autumn, when every apple
on the tree was found to have a “bloody heart.” This made Micah
Rood crabbier than ever, and his life went steeply downhill.
You’d think that the pall of sin hanging thick on the tree would