October 21st, 2016

All Hail the Golden Russet

My latest apple discovery is something called the Golden Russet (“Harmony” type). I got a couple of them on a lark at a Whole Foods Market for about $2.50 or thereabouts a pound.

Truly truly great, this is the only apple I’ve found so far that rivals the Jazz. Not quite as supercrisp but plenty crisp enough, with another delicate yet strong, fragrant and complex flavor. It’s supposed to be an heirloom type of apple, according to Whole Foods.

It looks a bit—well, rusty. Or perhaps russetty. Absolutely (applelutely?) delish.

Here’s one of the two I bought. It’s not going to win any apple beauty prizes, although to me it has a special autumnal loveliness:

fall-2016-022

Here’s a review I found online. There’s not a lot of information out there about this apple, and I can’t recall ever seeing one in a store before:

THE apple for me. I’ve said it many times to growers and potential pickers, Golden Russet is the best kept secret in apple cultivation. The general population does not gravitate to it due to its non-red/green appearance, but from a beauty perspective, it certainly ranks up there. Very dense apple, weighty, similar in weight to a baseball. Soluble sugar contents rank as one of the highest at 21%. Can make a 10% ABV cider that borders on wine. Try mixing the juice of a few of these into an ordinary container of 1/2 gallon cider and be prepared to experience some of the richest cider you’ve ever tasted…

Fresh eating rating: 10/10 – King of Kings. I have yet to find an apple to meet or surpass this one. This includes the perennial Monticello winner, Ashmead’s Kernel. Its richness is merely a compliment to its perfect combination of flavors and texture. Best.

Culinary rating: 8/10 – Cooks very well, holds its shape, stays crunchy to add texture to pie filling. Will add natural sugar in place of processed sugars. Rich.

And from an apple aficionado in the comments there:

A lot of apples have initial flavor that drops off pretty fast. Golden seems to bloom in your mouth as you chew. The flavors are complex, but they seem to harmonize very well, like a symphony of flavor. After having several that drew all my attention while eating, found me chewing the pulp thoroughly to get every drop of flavor out but still wanting to finish one bite just so I could get to the next one, I realized that Golden Russet is no ordinary apple. I have two trees. One was attacked by wood rats and was set back (apparently the wood tastes good too!) and the other, though growing nicely and 10 feet tall, hasn’t produced more than 10 or so apples in the last couple years, which the birds have eaten all of. I’ve eat one half of an apple off my two trees, but it was really good! The trees are rangy, straggly, unproductive things that no one seems to know how to prune. Clearly the only reason it survived this far is the outstanding fruit quality. My main criteria for quality is apples now is how compelling they are. Golden Russet is extremely compelling and was really important in inspiring me to pursue the “apple trail” as Albert Etter put it. Sometimes I want an apple that I can just eat while paying attention to something else. A little sugar, some nice flavor, but I could forget I’m eating it and keep typing or talking or whatever. Golden Russet is not that apple. It demands attention. Very rich indeed.

It certainly got my attention.

[NOTE: At Wiki.]

32 Responses to “All Hail the Golden Russet”

  1. sdferr Says:

    R. Thompson: God’s Bottles

  2. geokstr Says:

    So does Greenie get his walking papers now, thrown over after all these years for a tastier, freckled newcomer?

  3. Vanderleun Says:

    Based on this glowing recommendation, and the fact that my California town, Paradise, has a thriving organic heirloom Apple orchard (Vincent Nobel Orchard), I sought out a russet of a variety they actually had. It turns out I arrived just in time to by the last six pounds they had. “We only have three trees,” Mrs. Nobel told me. “They’re our secret favorite but most stores and people don’t want them because of the look.”

    I tasted them. OutSTANDING! Next stop more apples and I also bout some refrigerator case pie crusts so Apple galettes and tarts are also on the horizon.

    Good tip.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    geokstr:

    Greenie was only chosen for his looks and the Magritte reference.

    I wouldn’t eat good old Greenie. It’s the Jazz that has most to fear from the Russet competition.

    Actually, it’s so hard to find Russets that I don’t think either Greenie or Jazz has much to fear. But if readers on this blog will start a movement “Bring Back the Russet!” there may be some hope.

    How’s that for activism, Eric? 🙂

  5. Esther Says:

    Now, that’s news I can use! Will be on the lookout for them. Why an apple a day works, I dunno, but it works for me:-D

  6. snopercod Says:

    Nine years ago when apples hit $1 per pound in the supermarket (remember those days?), something snapped. I spent about $4,000 having 1/10 acre of woods removed and I planted a mostly-apple orchard. I figured I could sell the apples and turn a profit in a few years, but I made a little error there. In the first place, the apple trees didn’t produce anything for at least three years and I’m just now getting full crops – well, I would have if the squirrels hadn’t eat them all. This year they completely stripped every single tree except the Arkansas Black, which is just now ready to pick. They ate all the peaches, pears, and apricots, as well. Secondly, nobody wants to buy apples that aren’t “perfect”; If there is the smallest blemish on the skin, spoiled consumers don’t want them. So I have a whole freezer full of frozen pie apples and a pantry full of apple sauce. How many apple pies can one eat? Two years ago I solved the excess apple problem by making wine out of them. Now *that* was good!
    I don’t have any Harmony Golden Russets, but I have Ginger Gold, Red Fuji, Gala, Cinnamon Spice, Red Gravenstein, Gold Rush, Golden Delicious, Pippin, Baldwin, and Freedom.

  7. parker Says:

    Proving serendipity is real, I canned 10 pints of mango, honey crisp, craisin, ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne chutney today; and all but 2 pints will be xmas presents.

  8. parker Says:

    shopercod,

    You need a 22 cal pellet gun, squirrel is good eating. After you dress them, put them in boiling water for 10 minutes, remove and cool, then strip off the flesh and in another pot add the meat to any veg or meat broth available with root vegs of your choice, simmer on low heat for 2 hrs and serve with cornbread. Yummy.

  9. Cornhead Says:

    Snopercod

    Make cider!

  10. OM Says:

    Parker:

    Our klein poodles (small standards) kill them (squirrels) and eat them whole. Which we don’t appreciate since the rodents can have quite a diverse load of fellow travelers. Dosing the dog (one is a better hunter) with dilute H2O2 isn’t fun for either party. Squirrel’s revenge. TMI

  11. AesopFan Says:

    Haven’t seen any of these Russets (even though the trendy stores like “heirloom” varieties) but I love the Honeycrisp as a change from Jazz and Pink Lady.

  12. parker Says:

    TMI Oldflyer,

    Do you need baby steps to cook squirrel stew? 😉

  13. snopercod Says:

    parker: My wife used to thin out the squirrels with her .22, but she’s pretty much lost interest. Next year my plan is to nuke them with bait. Sadly, the U.S. Government has somehow banned the time-tested Warfarin bait so I’ll have to find something else (if that exists). Thanks for the squirrel recipe. In the past, we found that they were really tough unless we aged them for a few days in the fridge. We’ll have to try the boiling water method. I didn’t think of chutney. That’s an idea.

    Cornhead: I definitely would be making cider were it not for the outrageous prices of cider presses and grinders. I haven’t figured out a way around that yet.

    Neo: I apologize for turning your apple thread into “how to kill squirrels”.

  14. Philip Says:

    So apples join the list of vegetable-type things that have a significant level of refinement and detail, with wine, beer and coffee. Oh, dates, too.

    I didn’t know squirrels were so voracious as to attack apples! Crazy critters. Can you spray the apples with something bad-tasting for them that would at the same time wash off easily once picked? Obviously there are issues there, but I wonder if they’re worth trying to solve chemically. This is different from the biocide realm, you understand.

  15. snopercod Says:

    Pepper spray might work, but who wants Habanero flavored apples? The squirrels run along the top of the fence to get into my orchard so I’m also thinking of using sticky pads up there. I’d have to cover them somehow to keep birds from getting stuck. This is WAR!

  16. geokstr Says:

    Snopercod:
    “I apologize for turning your apple thread into “how to kill squirrels”.

    It’s actually quite useful this election year.

    They keep popping up all over the place from out of nowhere, usually whenever anything negative is leaked, discovered or uncovered about the Marxist Party or its candidate. Too bad our guy can’t shoot straight.

  17. OM Says:

    Is “our” guy a big lovable squirrel?

  18. geokstr Says:

    Philip Says:
    “So apples join the list of vegetable-type things that have a significant level of refinement and detail, with wine, beer and coffee. Oh, dates, too.”

    In fact, with regard to beverages, the most renowned philosopher king of the last half century, and former presidential candidate, would agree:

    “Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.”
    – Dave Barry

  19. J.J. Says:

    Will be on the lookout for this apple. I’m an apple a day guy, so am always on the lookout for different apples. My two faves as of now are the Envy and Jazz.

  20. lynndh Says:

    You can also fry up the squirrels. Better without shotgun pellets.

    $2.50 a lb. Nice to be rich.

  21. expat Says:

    This post must have stuck in my mind last night because I woke up thinking of my childhood. One aunt (with 9 kids) had a small orchard with lots of apple trees. The Transparents were used for applesauce, and once a year there was an apple butter day at her place. A huge copper pot of appples was cooked over an open fire outdoors, seasoned, and put in jars for the winter. My grandfather had a huge pear tree or two, and a neighbor had a grape arbor where her granddaughter and I used to sit for hours talking on hot summer days.
    It is really sad to see all the McMansions today with an acre or so of grass and not one fruit or vegie that there kids can snack on and learn to preserve for the winter. Michelle was onto something about teacing kids were their food comes from, but few inner city kids have room for a real garden. She probably could have done some more effective things in this area. And she could have come up with better foods for the schools.
    t

  22. brdavis9 Says:

    Honey crisp. Malus domestica. Especially with the Organic label.

    …good luck finding them.

    Worth looking for.

    I know there’s a couple of other WA state peeps who frequent the comments: Albertson’s and Roseauer’s carry them some years, around now, for a couple of weeks or so.

  23. brdavis9 Says:

    Ha! Online!

  24. snopercod Says:

    Trees of Antiquity sells the Golden Russet tree.

    Recently home gardens and small orchards have renewed interest in the Golden Russet for its distinctive appearance and intense flavor. The “champagne” of old-time cider apples, also delicious for eating and drying. Grey-green to golden bronze with a coppery orange cheek; heavily splotched with light brown russet. Crisp, highly flavored, fine-textured, yellow flesh makes very sugary juice. They are high in both sugar,acid and tannins, which make them a good pair with almost any apple for eating, cooking or cider. Golden Russet shows some resistance to scab and cedar apple rust.

    I may be dead before it produces anything, but I think I’ll plant one of those in my orchard. Thanks for the tip, Neo.

  25. snopercod Says:

    Update: I just ordered the tree. $38 plus $35 shipping from Paso Robles, CA. I think they will ship in January. I guess I need to get out there and dig a hole…

  26. Jd Says:

    Would love to try one to see how it compares to my favorite eating apple: the Macintosh. I live in Michigan, one of the largest Apple/fruit growing states in the nation. We know our apples. Also, for apple pies or for applesauce try the Northern Spy. Can’t be beat. Asi said, haven’t tried the Russet yet.

  27. brdavis9 Says:

    @snopercod at 7:23 am
    Trees of Antiquity sells the Golden Russet tree.

    Thank you so much for the link, snopercod. It had never even occurred to me to look for a tree nursery online. Doh!

    They have Honey Crisp too! I can grow my own!

    ….now I just have to figure out the best complementary pollinator.

    More reading.

  28. Ymarsakar Says:

    As I wrote to Parker and on my blog, a person has now found a way to create a forest garden that requires no fertilizer, no row of planted apple trees, and no weeding or pesticide.

    They call it the Secret Survival Garden on Amazon books, by Rick Austin.

  29. snopercod Says:

    Ymarsakr: I see a lot of problems with the concept of growing food in the woods. First of all, the native soil in the woods is absolutely terrible; It won’t grow much of anything . Building it up with compost and fertilizer takes years and years (ask me how I know). The surrounding tree roots will suck the life out of anything you might try to plant there. Then there’s no light – an essential ingredient for plant growth…and, in the face of all that, if you do manage to grow anything, what’s to keep your neighbors from just taking it? There’s a reason that the American pioneers removed the trees and built fences in order to plant crops. I used heavy equipment to remove the pine trees and stumps where my orchard and garden now live, and I’m in awe of settlers who did that chore with axes and shovels.

  30. OM Says:

    SnooperCod:

    Reality rears it’s head. But there is a new book that “solves” all of those old problems (and sells some new book). Practical on the ground wisdom from experience is more reliable when things really count.

  31. Ymarsakar Says:

    First of all, the native soil in the woods is absolutely terrible; It won’t grow much of anything .

    The method they used was pretty ingenious. It was basically Georgia/Appalachian red mountain clay at first.

    I don’t think it even had grass or weeds on it when they started, given the pictures.

    There’s no magic to fertilize the soil or prepare it of course, so they were using ecological cycles to do that, modified by human arts. It involved a combination of crops, which revitalize the soil. Ever hear of crops which pull nitrogen and nutrients to the roots and then spread it back over the soil? I believe that’s the original basis of rotation crop farming. Mono crops strip the soil of X, and it’s not easy to get X back without human/animal fertilizer.

    Of course they are also running duck farms and livestock farms, so fertilizer isn’t exactly non existent for them over the years. But it is used more to boost production rather than to make the soil grow anything.

    The surrounding tree roots will suck the life out of anything you might try to plant there. Then there’s no light – an essential ingredient for plant growth

    The forest is what happens after 3 years of planting. The canopy is open to the sun for the most part, in the first year, as there is no overhead cover. Whatever trees there are, are removed or allowed to remain if they are like distant enough.

    if you do manage to grow anything, what’s to keep your neighbors from just taking it?

    Fences weren’t going to stop that, you know. Otherwise you could put fences up and horse stealing/cattle stealing, raiding, would never happen.

    It’s very difficult to see that anything is growing once the garden becomes a forest. It literally looks like a forest with undergrowth that is just a bunch of weeds. Compared to easier targets like grain silos or more obvious farms and apple orchards, it’s not perfect but humans are rather predictable. They go for the low hanging fruit, they don’t do the work of climbing to the top of every tree to see what’s up there.

    I used heavy equipment to remove the pine trees and stumps where my orchard and garden now live

    I think Austin said he paid some guy 30 dollars an hour or was it 100 dollars an hour…, but after less than a day they were able to dig up the land to start an initial plot. They left behind some of the stones, since they were going to use it as a thermal source to help frost bitten plants grow better.

    I See OM is doing his dog barking and chasing after car trick again. Does he do anything productive here other than expose his own petulance, bitterness, and emotional vice?

    For a self proclaimed Christian, I got to say, a lot of Muslims have better behavioral virtues than OM. Same goes for Mexicans or Europeans. It’s pretty funny.

  32. snopercod Says:

    Another thing I learned is that nothing will grow where a White Oak tree has lived. Somehow it poisons the soil with some kind of fungus and all the trees that I planted in that area died of crown rot.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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