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Editor's Choice 1999
Home Kitchen Archives Growers Orchard Trail Apple Kids
 Honeycrisp Apples
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Every year the editors of the Apple Journal run an informal, un-scientific taste test of as many apple varieties as possible. At the end of the year we go through our notes and rank our favorites. The rankings shouldn't be taken too seriously, as there are so many variables such as personal preferences, year-to-year variations, and ripeness of the apples when they are tested. This year 300 different varieties were tested. We found 70 to be truly exceptional.

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 Golden Apple

grown by Glen Brown
1998, Omena, Michigan
photo-Mike Berst
  1. Honeycrisp -Glenn and Sue Brown; Omena, Michigan
  2. Ashmead Kernel-John and Phylis Kilcherman; Northport, Michigan
  3. Mutsu -John and Betsy King; Central Lake, Michigan
  4. Ross Non-Pareil -John and Phylis Kilcherman; Northport, Michigan
  5. Swiss Gourmet -John and Phylis Kilcherman; Eau Claire, Michigan
  6. Belle de Boskoop -Herb and Liz Teichman; Eau Claire, Michigan
  7. Cox Orange Pippin -Herb and Liz Teichman; Eau Claire, Michigan
  8. Cornish Gilliflower -Herb and Liz Teichman; Eau Claire, Michigan
  9. Adams Pearmain -Herb and Liz Teichman; Eau Claire, Michigan
  10. Braeburn -Richard and Wendy Friske; Charlevoix, Michigan
  1. Winesap -John and Phylis Kilcherman; Northport, Michigan
  2. Smokehouse -John and Phylis Kilcherman; Charlevoix, Michigan
  3. McIntosh -John and Betsy King; Central Lake, Michigan
  4. Macoun -John and Phylis Kilcherman, Michigan
  5. Spitzenburg -John and Phylis Kilcherman, Michigan
  6. Golden Russet -Versil White; Northport, Michigan
  7. Russet King -Herb and Liz Teichman; Eau Claire, Michigan
  8. Jonagold -John and Betsy King; Central Lake, Michigan
  9. Westfield Seek-No-Further -John and Phylis Kilcherman, Michigan
  10. Golden Supreme -Glen and Sue Brown; Omena, Michigan

Ashmead Kernel
grown by John Kilcherman
1999, Northport, Michigan
photo-Mike Berst
  1. Knobbed Russet
  2. Williams Pride
  3. Hudson Golden Gem
  4. Pitsmaston Pineapple
  5. Hunt Russet
  6. Carpentin
  7. Old Non-Pareil
  8. Gala
  9. Newtown Pippin
  10. Golden Delicious
  1. Coe's Golden Drops
  2. Fameuse
  3. Honey Gold
  4. Ginger Gold
  5. Peewaukee
  6. Golden Pippin
  7. Surprise
  8. Granny Smith
  9. Pink Pearl
  10. Gravenstein
  1. Tolman Sweet;
  2. Fuji;
  3. Grimes Golden
  4. Empire
  5. Spartan
  6. Cortland
  7. Sops-o-Wine
  8. Blue Pearmain
  9. Kerry Pippin
  10. Lady
51-70: King David; Redfree; Mollie Delicious; Summer Treat; Akane; Winter Banana; Dayton; Strawberry Chenango; Maiden Blush; White Winter Pearmain; Criterion; Jersey Mac; Franklin; Viking; Calville Blanc; Melrose; Hubbardston; Tompkin King; Fireside; Benoni

Notes on this year's test

We tasted quite a few new (to us) varieties this year, and the results were surprising. Our tasters lean toward the tarter and more distinctive varieties, so the older ones usually fair the best. This year, however, some of the newer varieties did extremely well.

Honeycrisp was the big surprise, scoring at or near the top of everyone's list. Other new varieties, Mutsu, Swiss Gourmet, and Braeburn also did well. Of these, Braeburn seems to keep the best (they are still excellent as of this writing, 2-22-00), and Swiss Gourmet seemed to be the most perishable.
Of the older varieties, Calville Blanc was the biggest disappointment, but we may not have gotten to them while they were at their best. The source for one of our favorites, Golden Russet, is a lone tree belonging to Versil White. He did some long overdue pruning last year, and the crop was smaller. The extended warm weather in October seemed to diminish the flavor of this and other older varieties. Spitzenburg wasn't quite what it was last year, but still was excellent. Ashmead Kernel, Ross Non-Pareil, Boskoop, and Cox Orange Pippin were all simply spectacular and it was a toss-up to pick one over the other.
We tested about three times as many apples this year compared to last year thanks in part to two new contributors, Glenn Brown and John Eastman. Unfortunately, we didn't get to Eastman Orchards soon enough in the season, and had to settle for scavenging through the "drops". Eastman's apples will score much higher next year. Glen Brown of Omena introduced us to Honeycrisp, Dayton and Williams Pride. Friske Orchards and King Orchards were accommodating, as always. John Kilcherman and Herb Teichman were generous and helpful. The problem is becoming one of "two many apples, too little time". It is difficult to get each variety tested while it is in its prime, especially in the middle of the season. Some varieties get overlooked or are not given a fair trial. Next year we will recruit more tasters for our panel.

All of the varieties listed were excellent, and to a large extent the rankings are dependent upon personal taste. The chart below shows the results from three of our tasters with widely differing preferences.

First person
prefers a tart apple
  1. Ashmead Kernel
  2. Ross Non-Pareil
  3. Belle de Boskoop
  4. Cox Orange Pippin
  5. Honeycrisp
  6. Adams Pearmain
  7. Smokehouse
  8. Cornish Gilliflower
  9. Russet King
  10. Mutsu
  11. Winesap
  12. Swiss Gourmet
  13. Golden Russet
  14. Spitzenburg
  15. Braeburn
  16. Hudson Golden Gem
  17. Westfield Seek-No-Further
  18. Newtown Pippin
  19. Knobbed Russet
  20. Pitsmaston Pineapple
This taste-tester
is a "Mac" lover
  1. McIntosh
  2. Macoun
  3. Honeycrisp
  4. Swiss Gourmet
  5. Williams Pride
  6. Golden Supreme
  7. Jonamac
  8. Fameuse
  9. Redfree
  10. Gala
  11. Empire
  12. Ashmead Kernel
  13. Spartan
  14. Ginger Gold
  15. Fuji
  16. Cox Orange Pippin
  17. Belle de Boskoop
  18. Spitzenburg
  19. Summer Treat
  20. Westfield Seek-No-Further
Third taster
has eclectic taste
  1. Honeycrisp
  2. Swiss Gourmet
  3. Belle de Boskoop
  4. Mutsu
  5. Golden Supreme
  6. Smokehouse
  7. McIntosh
  8. Ginger Gold
  9. Macoun
  10. Russet King
  11. Cornish Gilliflower
  12. Winesap
  13. Adams Pearmain
  14. Spitzenburg
  15. Braeburn
  16. Cox Orange Pippin
  17. Lady
  18. Golden Delicious
  19. Westfield Seek-No-Further
  20. Pink Lady
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