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An apple is an apple is an apple? No.

November 05, 2008|By CHRIS COPLEY

I grew up in big cities in Ohio, and when I was young, I thought apples were pretty much all the same. Red, yellow, it didn't matter to me. They all tasted like apples.

Then I became a journalist, and I researched a story on a 1908 Northern Michigan farm family preparing for winter. Part of the research included finding out what apples the family grew on their farm. To my surprise, I learned that the "subtle" differences I had noted in texture and sweetness among apples made a big difference in how an apple could be used in the kitchen.

To better understand that, I went to an orchard in Northern Michigan and tasted a dozen apples of various colors and sizes. I was bowled over: There really were differences!

"You think an apple is an apple," said Beverly Bingaman, sells apples at the Hagerstown Farmers Market. "But if you bake a pie and don't use an apple that holds its shape, you have an applesauce pie."

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Bingaman will give visitors a chance to taste for themselves the difference between varieties of apples. Visitors to Bingaman's Market Stand at the farmers market this Saturday, Nov. 8, can compare texture and flavor of about five apple varieties. She expects to have Fuji, Ida red, Rome, golden delicious, and Crispin apples.

Bingaman's daughter, Betty, and Herald-Mail opinion-page editor Bob Maginnis, a Washington County master gardener, will be on hand to offer free samples and answer questions.

Beverly Bingaman said she doesn't grow the apples she sells. She buys fresh, seasonal apples and other fruit from area orchards.

"We purchase them from Mountain Valley Orchard in Smithsburg, Tracy's Orchards in Greencastle(, Pa.), and Shatzer Fruit Market in Chambersburg(, Pa.)," she said.

The apple season stretches from mid-July through October. Early varieties differ from later varieties, Bingaman said.

"Early apples good for eating and apple sauce. They tend to be softer and have a shorter shelf life," she said. "Later apples are better for baking and keeping."

Bingaman said the best apples for baking are Stayman, Granny Smith, Rome and York apples. Jonagold, red delicious and golden delicious apples are good for eating. Golden delicious apples are good for sugar-free baking, because they have a high sugar content.

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