Duration: 21st September – 20th December
Number of books: 25
Hosted by: Crazy Challenge Connection
Although they’re available year-round in most places, apples are one of the signs of fall to many of us, and there seem to be more and more varieties available every month. My father loved Macintosh apples, Mom likes Golden Delicious, Daughter likes Pink Lady and my favorite is the Granny Smith apple. This fall, we decided to explore some of the differences between these varieties, and some of the other most popular apples as well. Thanks to Prevention magazine for the information here and this look into the future:
Mother Nature has created her share of fantastic apples, from Golden Delicious to Granny Smith. But many new varieties are the products of human ingenuity. Today’s breeders use both traditional grafting and cutting-edge genomics to develop fruit that meets Americans’ demands for apples that are sweet, tart, crunchy, and juicy all at once. Among the most storied breeding programs is the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY. Every year, horticulturists harvest at least 10,000 seeds and manage 33 acres of seedlings. The careful work pays off: Over the past 100 years, the program has introduced 65 varieties, including Empire, Macoun, Jonagold, Cortland, and, in 2013, SnapDragon, which is squaring up to be the next must-eat apple.
1. BALDWIN, est. 1750s | One bite yields sweetness with a hint of spice.
The Baldwin was among the most popular American apples until 1934, when a freeze wiped out most of its trees. Growers reported actually hearing the tree bark snap in the cold. Thanks to a smattering of farmers who kept cultivating this variety for themselves, it’s still found in northeastern farmers’ markets.
➦ Read a book set in a location that is cold more often than not; tell us where
OR a book set in the 1700s – The Fish Ladder by Katharine Norbury (UK)
2. CORTLAND, est. 1915 | Often described as “sprightly” because of its balance of sweetness and acidity, Cortland browns more slowly after cutting than most other apples, which makes it great for fruit salads.
One of the first man-made hybrids in the US, this much-adored cross between a McIntosh and an apple called the Ben Davis, is about to celebrate its 100th birthday.
➦ Read a book by an author who was born at least 100 years ago (before September 1918); tell us when OR a book by an author or with a character named Ben/Benny/Benjamin (reasonable spelling variations accepted)
3. COX’S ORANGE PIPPIN, est. 1825 | Aficionados are fanatical about this heirloom’s nutty, almost pear-like flavor.
Discovered by Richard Cox, a London brewer, it was England’s favorite apple for more than a century, but it has recently lost ground to more modern varieties like Gala.
➦ Read a book set in London
OR a book with an X in the author’s first or last name; post a link to the author’s GR page – Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
4. EMPIRE, est. 1966 | Tart + sweet = hard not to love.
This cross between a McIntosh and a Red Delicious is named for New York (the Empire State), where it was first bred. Star qualities: Medium-sized, it is not easily bruised.
a book set in an empire of some sort; tell us where OR a book whose page total includes consecutive double numbers (224 and 188 work, 353 does not) – P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (337 pages)
5. ESOPUS SPITZENBURG, est. early 1800s | It’s trickier to grow than modern hybrids – the trees don’t grow well if planted too close together – but fans still bend over backward for its floral scent, buttery flesh, and trademark blue-tinged skin.
Said to be a favorite apple of Thomas Jefferson, this heirloom was discovered in Esopus, NY, and is still grown at Monticello today.
➦ Read a book whose cover is predominantly blue; post the cover
OR a book set in New York (state) – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
6. FUJI, est. 1962 | Great for eating fresh, Fujis are too juicy for baking. Use them to add a touch of sweetness in salads and slaws.
Its parents, Ralls Janet and Delicious, are American, but the Fuji was bred in Japan. With between 15 and 18% Brix, or sugar levels, it is one of the sweetest apples around. No wonder it was an instant global hit.
a book set in Japan OR a book by an author whose FIRST name begins with J (or first initial for authors who use initials instead) – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
7. GINGER GOLD, est. 1960s | It wows with its succulent texture and spice. Choose fruits with yellow skin over ones that are green.
Found as a chance seedling growing near a Golden Delicious orchard in Virginia, Ginger Gold is considered one of the best early-season apples.
➦ Read a book with a predominantly yellow cover; post the cover OR a book set in the spring (March, April or May); tell us when
8. GOLDEN DELICIOUS, est. 1890s | Think Golden Delicious is bland or boring? You’ve probably been eating fruit that was picked too early and stored too long. A ripe, fresh-picked GD is exceptionally rich, even custardy.
The first seedling was discovered on the Mullins family farm in West Virginia. A family descendant insists a nursery paid just $50 for the tree and all the fruit it produced—a bargain, considering it went on to be one of the most popular apples of all time.
➦ Read a book with a color name in the title (plurals accepted, no other variations) OR a book whose main character earns his/her living as a farmer
9. GOLDRUSH, est. 1994 | Tart-apple lovers, can we hear you say hallelujah? This late-season apple (look for it at the end of October) has a complex flavor—was that a hint of anise?—that improves with age. Even better: A fresh GoldRush will keep in the refrigerator until summer.
“Gold” refers to its old man, Golden Delicious; “Rush” alludes to the burst of snappy, tangy flavor.
➦ Read a book whose title is a question OR a book originally published in 1994
10. GRANNY SMITH, est. 1860s | Picked in November, this late-season apple is a staple in supermarkets because its thick skin helps it travel.
Maria Ann Smith – or “Granny,” as she was called – discovered the seedling for this tart green apple growing in her Australian compost pile.
a book with a character who is a grandmother; tell us the character OR a book you discovered in your TBR pile that you had forgotten about – Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
11. GRAVENSTEIN, est. 1790s | You’ll get ivory flesh and intense, aromatic flavor.
This heirloom hails from Denmark, but in the United States, it’s grown almost exclusively in Sonoma County, CA, where it’s celebrated with an annual festival. Thank the nonprofit Slow Food USA for keeping the Gravenstein off the endangered species list by adding this apple to its Ark of Taste catalog.
➦ Read a book set in California
OR a book in which a character is actively involved in helping a non-profit organization; tell us the character and the organization – Bound Together by Christine Feehan
12. HONEYCRISP, est. 1960s | Expect explosive juiciness and smack-you-over-the-head sweetness.
Demand is so great—and supply still so limited—that Honeycrisps often sell out within a few weeks, even with prices at $4.50 a pound in some places. Though growers are rushing to plant more trees, Honeycrisp grows best in cold climates, so there’s worry that the new crops from warmer climates may disappoint.
➦ Read a book with a closed compound word in its title (like daydream, barefoot, etc; this list might help) OR a book that you had to pay much more for than you usually pay for a book
13. LADY, est. 1628 | Sweet and delicate, with no tartness. In other words, ladylike.
One of the oldest known varieties, this tiny apple is said to have gotten its name because women would keep them in their purses to sniff when they encountered bad odors. Today, Martha Stewart and other stylists use the blushing red fruit in holiday centerpieces.
a book with HOLIDAY on its main GR page OR a book with a titled character (Lady, Lord, Duke, Duchess); tell us the character – Princess in Training by Meg Cabot
14. LIBERTY, est. 1978 | Liberty’s bright flavor wins over lovers of tart apples, who find this variety mostly at farm stands in the Northeast.
Liberty was one of the earliest apples bred to be resistant to a pesky disease called apple scab. (The next one was called Freedom.)
➦ Read book #1 of a new-to-you series; tell us the series OR a book with a character who works in a medical field; tell us the character and the job – Judgment Road by Christine Feehan (Torpedo Ink & Steele was trained as a medic)
15. MACOUN, est. 1920s | While consumers have moved on, chefs still treasure Macouns for their intensity of flavor and a movie-sound-effect crunch.
It’s pronounced Mac-ow-n, not Ma-coon. Macouns were in the ’80s what Honeycrisps are today—the “it” apple variety.
➦ Read a book with a main character who earns his/her living as a chef (NOT a baker);
OR a book that is very popular (over 10,000 GR ratings); tell us how many ratings – Reinventing Ruby by Deborah Blake
16. McINTOSH, est. 1820s | If you had to create a classic “apple” flavor in the lab, it would be modeled on the Mac: juicy, fresh, sweet, and bright—everything an apple should be.
The Mac is the prize stallion of apples, a thing of beauty that’s a powerful breeder. McIntosh is parent to beloved varieties including Empire, Cortland, and Macoun.
➦ Read a book by an author whose middle or last name begins with the prefix Mc or Mac OR a book with a main character who is a parent
NOTE: If you use the author name option, Mc or Mac MUST be a prefix, not simply the first few letters of the name.
17. MUTSU, est. 1930 | One of these oversize green apples can easily feed two people, though its boisterous tang may incline you to keep one all to yourself.
A cross between Golden Delicious and Indo, it’s named after the Mutsu Province of Japan, where it was first grown. Mutsu is often sold under its other (more onomatopoeic) name, Crispin.
a book whose title has changed since its original publication; tell us both titles OR a book that can be classified as more than one genre (i.e., romance and suspense or historical and mystery); tell us the genres – The Mammoth Book of Irish Romance edited by Trisha Telep (Romance, Paranormal & Short story collections)
18. NORTHERN SPY, est. 1840s | This variety is tart but honeyed; luscious yet subtle. When eaten fresh, it serves up a particularly high level of Vitamin C.
New York and Connecticut both claim this apple as their own, but no one knows where it got the name.
➦ Read a book with a directional word in its title (NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST, UP or DOWN only) OR a book with ESPIONAGE on its main GR page
19. PINATA, est. 1986 | Sweet and crisp with a hint of tropical fruit.
This German-bred variety was first called Pinova, then Corail, then Sonata. But none of them stuck. Finally, breeders settled on Piñata, a name with appeal to the growing Latino community in the United States.
Read a book with at least one Latino character; tell us the character OR a book with a one-word title (ALL words count) – Lifeblood by P.N. Elrod
20. PINK LADY, est. 1970s | The princess-pink skin draws most people to this apple. It has a mild but pleasant flavor and plenty of crunch.
Pink Lady was the first to be marketed with a brand name. The move set off a trend of trademarking apple names, which allows breeders and associations to control quality and collect fees on every apple sold.
➦ Read a book with a cover that is predominantly pink; post the cover OR a book whose title contains only words that are no more than four letters long (two-word minimum)
21. RUBYFROST, est. 2013 | It’s zippy, almost effervescent.
Developed to avoid browning and for high vitamin C, it’s the perfect apple for a brown-bag lunch. RubyFrost is found in limited quantities and only in the Northeast, but it’s gaining in popularity.
a book with a woman’s name in the title OR a book with a “zippy, effervescent” character; tell us the character and why you would describe him/her that way – Death and Relaxation by Devon Monk (Jean)
22. SNAPDRAGON, est. 2013 | Crunch! [a dribble of juice down your chin] Bam! [a burst of ambrosia]
This is Honeycrisp 2.0. SnapDragon looks and tastes like its in-demand predecessor but presents none of the production headaches that plague growers.
➦ Read a book with a flower shown prominently on the cover; post the cover OR a book originally published in 2013
23. TWENTY OUNCE, est. 1963 | Grown primarily for food manufacturers – bigger apples mean easier peeling and less waste – these giants are still available at some farm stands in the northeast. A single apple can make an entire pie.
In 1976, Kathy Wafler used this enormous apple to win the world record for the longest apple peel: 172 feet, 4 inches.
➦ Read a book with a cardinal number in its title (1, 2, 3, not first, second, third) OR a book with a pie on its cover; post the cover
24. YORK, est. 1830 | Fresh picked, York is a perfect balance of sweet and sharp. It keeps especially well, becoming sweeter and more mellow after several months.
Quaker nurseryman Jonathan Jessup championed this distinctively lopsided, red apple on his farm near York, PA. But it soon won fans in Virginia and further south, where it remains popular.
➦ Read a book whose title begins with Y (disregard A, An and The) OR a book set in Pennsylvania or Virginia; tell us where
25. THE UNNAMED APPLE OF THE FUTURE, est. 2018? | Early iterations were too sour for mainstream tastes. Through patient experiments, growers are said to have tamed the extremes and are on their way toward perfecting a classic.
Growers on five continents created the marketing consortium IFORED to develop this specialty apple, which has red flesh for maximum antioxidants. Fans-to-be: anyone obsessed with cramming more phytochemicals into their day.
➦ Read a book in which the first letter of EVERY word in the title can be found in UNNAMEDAPPLE (two-word minimum)
OR a book released no more than six months before you read it; tell us when it was released – Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert