After I arrived home from San Francisco, I listened to a phone message from my friend Bill Davis, "The apples are in, call me if you want some." I smiled wondering what varieties he had this year.
Bill is retired and he volunteers once a week for WSU Ag Research Center in Mount Vernon. Every week he does a lot of work with tree fruit there and rarely asks for any reimbursements. At home, Bill raises mason bees and is an expert with raspberries and tree fruit, especially apples. He also volunteers for the Seattle Tree Fruit Society, a group that works with expert and amatuer tree fruit growers and shares information on growing, grafting, and growing techniques.
"I'll take 10 pounds of Jonagolds," I blurted without hesitation. My apples were gone, and these apples are a cross between two of my favorites--Golden Delicious and Jonathon. Also, I wasn't sure what Grouse Mountain Farm was bringing to the U-District market this week or if Cliffside Orchards would be there, two of my favorite apple-growing farms. This season I'm devouring about 4 apples a day, and my Cooking Assistant loves apples so much he devours cores which I've nicknamed "apple bones." On Finn's wish list is a plate of apple slices with Massa Organics almond butter. Dream on Cooking Assistant.
Bill told me the Tree Fruit Society's annual apple sale is this Sunday, October 31st, at the Center for Urban Horticulture. I went to this apple sale a few years ago and the number of varieties they sell is almost intimidating. And how can you possibly remember them all? It's worth going to this sale to support these growers and to see the abundance these dedicated growers produce. You can also find out how the apple farmers deal with coddling moth and apple maggot--two persistent apple pests.
Before I left, Bill asked if I wanted to try a few different varieties, which of course I did. The last one he handed me had "White Winter Pearmain," written in tiny letters on the bottom. This apple variety was first recorded in 1849 and is believed to have originated in the eastern part of the United States.
My Assistant found it right away. The flavor is mild-sweet-tart, but the crunch is perfect and it has plenty of juice with each bite. I imagine it as a great variety for caramel apples.
In addition to the Tree Fruit Society apple sale on Halloween, the University District Farmers' Market is hosting an Applepoloza with apple tastings this Saturday at 10am. Be sure to vote for your favorites. And check out the apple pie making demonstration from master pie maker Kate McDermott. Pies are so popular now and who doesn't want to know the secrets of which apples to use or how to make a flaky crust? This event will no doubt draw more people and make the market a very busy place on Saturday so since parking is limited, walk, take a bus, ride a bike, carpool or just get there really early. I'm getting there early to meet some friends. Hope to see you there.