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Apple Taste Test – Part 2

 After my apple dessert loving husband recently taste tested six common apple varieties found in Australian fruit shops and supermarkets, we decided to subject apples purchased from the Melbourne Slow Food Farmers Market to the same rigorous workout in an effort to identify the variety he likes best for apple pie.

The Farmers Market apples, bought from three different growers were all $6 per kilo, quite a bit more than the $3 and $4 per kilo price I had paid at my local fruiterer. We bought nine different varieties. All were certified that they were grown organically and three had been grown in a permaculture enviroment.

As with the first test, I peeled and cored each apple and cut it into eighths. Each was cooked with 2 tablespoons of water for a maximum of 10 minutes. No sugar or spice was added to the samples.

Mal tasted the raw apple as I prepared them, curious to see if their flavour characteristics would be altered by cooking.


His favourite, both fresh and cooked was the Andre Sauvage, a small unassuming russet coloured apple with a roughly textured skin. The apple softened quickly during cooking but did not become puree like most of the others. I was put off by it’s grainy texture, but the robust sweet fruit flavour made it a winner. Like the other russet coloured apples Andre Sauvage had a beautiful golden colour when cooked.

The juicy fleshed Mackintosh came a very close second. The flavour delivered a hint of butterscotch an interesting consistency because I’d noted as I’d cut them that the texture of the raw apple was buttery. The cooked apple reduced to puree and looked dry but it was juicy on the palate with fresh citrus notes.

Blenheim, another russet skinned variety had a delicious sherbet zing on the aftertaste which I found very appealing, but it lacked the sweetness that Mal likes in an apple, so it’s a candidate that needs sugar  added.

Royal Gala was the only apple I cooked in this round which held it’s structure, and while it was sweet and juicy with a creamy texture, it lacked acidic tang and robust flavour.

Splendour was an interesting apple. The skin was rough and blemished, but the flesh was flawless, a lively creamy green colour with smooth buttery texture. We concluded that Splendour along with Royal Gala was best eaten fresh.

I had high hopes for both the Stewart’s Seedling and Bramley apples. Along with Gravenstein, they are heritage varieties I remember my Mum choosing to cook. The Bramley was enjoyable fresh but was disappointing cooked. It oxidised rapidly after being cut then lost all it’s structure in the saucepan. The wet puree had an off-putting musty flavour. The grower had cautioned us that the Stewart’s Seedling was just for cooking. It disintegrated in the pan to a dry puree with no distinctive characteristics .

The two remaining varieties Muisu and Russett were mild flavoured and generally lacking in fruity apple freshness. Mal noted that the flavour was flat.

After the taste tests were complete, I combined the Muisu, Russett, Bramley, Splendour and Stewart Seedling samples, added a little sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice, some cinnamon and a handful of sultanas. I topped it with a generic crumble and served it to Mal for dessert. After all the apple tasting that day I thought his response would be lacklustre, but in fact, he said the taste was exactly what he had been looking for all along!

I think, in the end that all I can conclude is that THE best apple pie is made with more than one variety of apple.

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

18 comments on “Apple Taste Test – Part 2

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  3. Francesca
    May 5, 2015

    Next season, I’m sending my weirdo ancient apples to you for further testing.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Fae's Twist & Tango
    April 30, 2015

    Most of these apple varieties cannot be found in our supermarkets or farmer’s markets. I wonder why? But when I find them, I will use these 2 posts of yours as my guidelines. Thanks for the experiment. 🙂

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      April 30, 2015

      Old varieties are making a big comeback amongst the smaller growers here. I was amazed at the range of flavours an apple can have.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Gather and Graze
    April 30, 2015

    Such an interesting end to this experiment Sandra! Rather exciting to know that the mixture of apples created the best flavour. Surprised that the Bramley wasn’t so good… I’d heard that it’s one of the preferred apples for cooking in the UK. So many different varieties that I haven’t heard of before too – great that they’re making a comeback!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      April 30, 2015

      It was a bit ironic that the mixed rejects created the best overall flavour. We also concluded that I prefer tart apples, Mal prefers sweet so we need a balance. I’ll keep trying new varieties as they appear as I learned far more than I expected.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. simplydelish
    April 29, 2015

    Fun experiment!

    Like

  8. Glenda
    April 29, 2015

    Interesting Sandra.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      April 29, 2015

      It was a very interesting exercise Glenda, I learned a lot about apples and my other half….

      Like

  9. Serena @ foodfulife
    April 28, 2015

    Beautiful post! I didn’t know many of these variety of apples, as we don’t have them in Italy… Very interesting!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      April 29, 2015

      I’m sure you have many apple varieties never seen in Australia Serena. There has been a huge resurgence in interest in old varieties here so it was with great curiosity we tasted them side by side. Each variety had its own distinct textures flavour.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. cheergerm
    April 28, 2015

    Great foodie experiment and conclusion Mrs Recipe. I have sometimes used two varieties but only because I didn’t have enough of one. Love the idea of combining a few. Super.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      April 29, 2015

      Thanks Cheery. Tasting the different apples was interesting, they were so different to one another, but what was more interesting was the flavour after the rejects were mixed and spiced! Cooking really is alchemy…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Leah
    April 28, 2015

    Love this experiment and that you might have a winner. I know we analysed that pie in Athalone a lot and one of our thoughts was that there was more than one type of apple in it to give the different textures. Can’t wait for the pie challange to begin now (and I’m sure Dad can’t either!!!)

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      April 29, 2015

      It was frustrating to cook 9 apples separately then get rave reviews when I mixed the rejects, but it was also a valuable insight! Xxx

      Like

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This entry was posted on April 28, 2015 by in Baking, Desserts, Food, Fruit Desserts, Soapbox, Warm Puddings and tagged , .
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