Hunting for the Old Town Specials
As Fall is in full power, weekends can get packed in the burbs. Hillsides turn into parking lots as crowds pile in to pick your own apples and over-do it on cider doughnuts. There is pride in being from apple country, making it ok to turn one's nose up at waxy Red Delicious. It is part of living here. Apple snobbery? Nooo, not exactly. It's deeper than that. Everyone has a favorite, let's face it apple preference here is very serious.
So rather than go over the typical fan favorites, let's get down to the old, the obscure, the best kept secret ladies of the orchard.
Spencer: This crisp tart bite is the lovely outcome of a cross between a Yellow Delicious and a Mac. Apparently, the Spencer tree is hard to get a stock on, and if not graphed out, it will fade away as time goes on. Pick them up at Carver Hill Orchard in Stow.
Roxbury Russet: Recognized as one of the oldest varieties that originated in North America, these old souls mix a hint of sour under an overall sweetness. Generally, they are a yellowish-green apple with an occasional blush marking (as they can get gussied up). Bring them home from Westward Orchards, for a colonial reenactment party of your very own.
Westfield Seek No Further: These old gems have been on the scene since the 1700s. They are subtle and hearty like a wise ole folk should be. There are a few trees at Nicewicz Farm, in Bolton get there on a lucky day, and you may find them in the stand.
Blue Pearmain: One of Henry David Thoreau's must-have apples, this hearty winter apple originated in Middlesex county back in the 1700s. With its many flavor notes such as vanilla, pear, and melon, they will bring your baked apple game to new levels this Fall. Stock up on them as well as many others from the incredible selection of heirloom apples at Shelburne Farm in Stow.
Northern Spy: If you are into firm and airy, this gal is for you. Hints of strawberry in its sweetness, it is a perfect crisp dessert on its own. It isn't under the radar as its name suggests, it's public, go find them at Carlson's Orchard in Harvard.
Shamrock: Move over Granny Smith, the East Coast has found their green apple! Found at Bolton Orchards, this considerably newer apple is tart and crisp with a nice light green inside.
This is just a small slice of the heirloom apples that can be found at farms around us. As the weeks carry on, more varieties will be ready to pick. There is still plenty of time to get into the history that grows in these surrounding orchards. Be sure to check websites and even call ahead of time to see what they are picking as apples are ready at all different times.