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Keeping Up With Maury
Apples Are King
by Maury Feren

It's harvest time and you will never enjoy apple flavor better than this time of the year.

Its funny to see all these older popular apple varieties disappear. I can remember when Delicious apples were recognized as the real thing. Maybe it was because they could produce them in a ragging red color. Even today, you will see them now and then. They are shapely too.

Now this is what astonishes me. I would often point out to friends that local apples had the most taste than any of the shipped varieties from Washington State, Oregon and California. I couldn't use them for my baskets; they just didn't stand up to for color and shape. Most people didn't recognize what flavor and freshness they held.

I didn't know when and how this happened, but it seemed like overnight. Many years ago people awakened to the fact that there were so many wonderful tasting varieties of apples out there. So they began a search for flavor first not that bright red appearance.

You have the entrance of Fuji, Galas, Jazz, Pink Lady, and of course the newest champion, Honey Crisp. It is encouraging to know how that happened. Granny Smiths became very popular, grown locally, as well as in New Zealand. We have had some wonderful testing fruit from New Zealand. Granny Smiths have proven to be an all around variety especially in pies.

I always like to tell my story about working in an apple orchard. After I had mastered some basic requirements for knowledge in shipping, the company I worked for T.M Rini Inc. purchased a farm in Amherst, Ohio. What was so wonderful about this farm was the fact that it produced a variety of apple that was quite popular at that time. It was an early Keeper.

However, because of the area, water, sun and earth these apples could keep well under normal storage as late as April of the next year after harvest. I might note that there were few varieties that would keep that long and maintain their taste.

There are some interesting facts about apples. Nobody talks about them, because apples are just another part of our diversity in food. This will knock you out. Jonathan's are a Jewish apple. Don't ask me why. It was a variety that Jewish people turned to. It has a sweet, sour bite to it that makes you aware you are eating a good tasting apple.

Oddly enough, it was also the darling of the Italian people of that day. Delving further in ethnicity, the American apple was always considered the Delicious variety. McIntosh came in second as an All American variety. I could also talk about the old Baldwin variety which turned out to be more attractive to European people.

In any case, that made this farm so important. As it turned out this company was the only one that was able to offer Jonathan's at the most important holidays as late as Easter and Passover. It was my job to see that the apples were packed properly to avoid bruising. Again, we had much to learn.

We thought that the ring face bushel was essential to attract the buyers. This would entail packing the top of the bushel with a ring face. This was performed by lining up the best apples on a metal ring face; by placing it on the bottom of the container. Turning it over upside down so that the ring face comes out of the bushel. These apples would have been sold in a standard farm apple container. That is how they are handled today.

Take note. Each bushel would weight 40-50lbs depending on the variety. That takes strength. You should have watched those young girls turn those bushels over. I recognized how strong they were. Something that we didn't see until pre-WWII when women found their way. I was about 18-20 years old 79 years ago.

So when you see those few Jonathan apples around take a shot at them to see where you stand. It may surprise you.

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