reGIon: Very popular in europe, the rural south, and in
nursery catalogues across the united states. many a southerner
grew up sneaking transparents from the tree in the front yard,
and many a tree stands there still.
It’s sHoCkInG to BIte Into a ripe Yellow Transparent and
watch it turn brown before your eyes. This thing was not built
to last. If you pick it a little green, it will keep in the fridge for a
week or so, but then it will indeed be tart. Its sugar comes only
right at the end, at which point you need to eat it right away,
because it will turn dry and mealy fast.
None of this sounds very appealing, but Yellow Transparent
is one of my favorite apples. I have a small tree in my back
field in Vermont, and its apples look pretty much like all the
other apples until some point in July, when all of a sudden
they take o= like they’ve been injected with growth hormones.
In just a couple of weeks, they balloon into big, gorgeous, delicate yellow apples, and apples have been so far o= your radar
here in berry season that it takes a day or two to realize that,
by golly, those things are ripe. And you know they don’t last,
so there is always a little orgy of Yellow Transparent picking
and eating, and when you get them just right, they have a Jolly
Rancher scent and just enough sweetness and snik in them to
be truly delightful. If you don’t get them just right, do not despair; they melt down into some of the smoothest sauce you’ll
ever see. Transparents bear early and often, which adds to their
aLIas: spitz, spitzenberg, spitzenburgh
orIGIn: esopus, new york (ulster County), 1700s.
appearanCe: the red coat, spotted with fat yellow lenticels
like bubbles in hot oil, makes me think of the hide of some
reptilian beast. the greenish-yellow background often shows
through. modestly sized and modestly ribbed. when it ripens
fully, the flesh turns yolk-yellow.
fLaVor: extraordinary brandied, burnt-sugar notes, as if it
were already halfway to becoming a tarte tatin. one thinks of
burnt orange, or Cointreau, and (after some mellowing) lychee
texture: excellent breaking crispness. Quite juicy. the skin is
on the chewy side.
season: pick in october. Give it a month to mellow unless
you are a sour fanatic. the flavor takes off around the winter
solstice, and will hold in cold storage through spring.
use: this apple can do anything. eat it fresh, make it into a pie,
ferment it into an unforgettable cider.
reGIon: the new darling of home orchardists and cider makers
throughout the northeast and upper midwest.
“spItz” Is tHe one amerICan appLe that can go up against
the best of the old-world varieties. Once Thomas Je=erson tasted
it, he determined to make it a big part of his orchard at Monticello. (The Virginia climate had other ideas.) Word on the street
is that it’s President Obama’s fave, too. This apple has the haze
of greatness hanging around it.
And yet, if you taste it too early, just o= the tree, you wouldn’t
know it. Spitz pushes both the sour and sweet about as far as you
can push it. It’s aggressive. So acidic, in fact, that when Steve
Wood of Farnum Hill Cider began working with it, he thought
his hygrometer was broken. It told him that the Spitz juice was
sky-high in sugar, but he couldn’t taste it through the acidity. But
Spitz can shine in a single-variety hard cider — wildly tart, with
aromas of Juicy Fruit gum, anise, and roses — and is even better
when teamed with less acidic apples.