Foraged Apple Sampler Party

Foraged apples! I know, it's late in the year, and I live in a place that has real winters. But last week, I was riding my bike down a trail along an irrigation ditch which is somewhat protected from the elements. The leaves had all fallen, and it was a cloudy day (no low-angle sun in the eyes) so I could clearly see all of the plants along the ditch. Being so late in the year, I was shocked to see apples (Malus spp.) everywhere, apple trees that I hadn't previously known about (and I ride that trail several times a week!). The majority of their fruit had fallen, but the trees each still had quite a few apples clinging to their branches.

Seeing so many apples inspired the forager in me. So, I tore back to the house and retrieved my fruit picking basket, which I have attached to a light bulb changing handle that telescopes out to 12', sa-weet! I rode back down the trail, and plucked a few apples from every tree that I could find. In all, I collected ten distinctly different varieties. There were a few true green apples, some that were mostly red, one variegated, and several crab apple varieties, too.

The next day, I invited everyone over, and we had a local foraged apple sampling party. We enjoyed some nice wine, a few local cheeses, and a bounty of apples. It was astonishing to taste all of the different apple varieties side by side and compare notes. Since these were fully tree-ripened apples, each was bursting with flavor and completely unique. There was one apple variety that tasted a bit like pears, one that tasted of honey, and one that had very little flavor compared to the others.

There was a unanimous hands-down winner of the foraged apple tasting. I don't know what the variety is, but if you recognize the solo apple in the picture, let me know (isn't it beautiful?!). I live in an area known for apple orchards 100-150 years ago, but I've never seen this variety here before. The apple is nearly twice as large as the other apples, the size of a softball or small grapefruit. It has translucent whitish-yellow skin with a pale pink blush, and crisp white flesh. The mystery apple has a strong and very floral apple flavor, with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.

I think that having an apple sampling party is really great idea for people who are new to foraging. Everyone knows what apples look like, so there needn't be any fear of misidentification, or poisoning, or any of the other things that scare people away from foraging. And it's really fun to sample the flavor and textural differences of fruit ripened on the tree. The experience has left me completely disinterested in store-bought apples. So you can add apples to the growing list of foods that I will only eat in season and harvested with my own hands.

I'm sharing this party with the Hearth and Soul hop, Real Food Wednesday, and Real Food Deals at Premeditated Leftovers.

Comments

  1. I wish I lived close by so I could sample your apples - I really feel like there is very little to forage in IN - in farm country. But apple trees are everywhere - heck, I have one in my yard - you are right, apples are a gateway foraging food!

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  2. What a nice gathering, and I love the photo of your apples.

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  3. This is wonderful! I would have loved to attended your apple sampler party!

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  4. What a fantastic idea! Your apple sampler party sounds wonderful. I'm constantly amazed by how many different varieties of apples there are and how unique they all taste.

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  5. What a wonderful idea!! I just love apples ~ and there are so many varieties and flavors. Love your photos, too.

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  6. Butter, what a great post - an apple sampling party was a great idea and a good introduction to foraging - I can well imagine a store bought apple holding no interest for you any longer :-)
    Sue

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  7. What a fun idea! What a great way to introduce friends to foraging.

    You found a real treasure. Do you keep a map of your discoveries?

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  8. Oh yeah TRULY ripe apples are out of this world yummmy! A tree ripened golden delicious is CRISP and sweeter than honey...nothing compared to the mealy, tasteless blah sold in stores. Make sure to replant the seeds from the most spectacular apples. :) The next few generations will be blessed by it.

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  9. I love your party, wish I could have been there. Thank you for sharing and you have a great week.

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  10. I am so jealous. Around here we depend on apples brought in from the Mainland to Hawaii, and they are often blah tasting. I like what you did with your foraged harvest.

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  11. i love that you did this---what a great way to introduce your friends to your passion...did you keep the seeds--i am sure it is a long forgotten heirloom variety...but now you know where to find it :)

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  12. Christy my friend, you are too funny... apples are the gateway forage!

    Jenny and Christy - I haven't planted any apple seeds, but I am seriously considering grafting a branch onto the tree in my backyard :)

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  13. Oh, I LOOOOVE it! Kickin' back with apples, cheese, and wine...totally my kinda party! Can you eat crab apples raw? My grandparents have a tree in their backyard that I grew up playing under, but for some reason I thought they weren't edible raw?? I don't know!? I'm not sure what type of apple that is by looking, but I sure want to try it. Thanks for being a hostess with the mostess for the hearth and soul hop :D

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  14. How much fun is this! What lovely surprises your land is producing for you simply because you have your eyes open and your heart set on discovery! That apple looks like a pink lady to me or a gala, but gala is a relatively new breed. Enjoy!!!! I am sharing this article on my thoughts on friday link love because I think EVERYONE needs to accept the bounty of the earth, even if they have to cut out the bad bits! :) Hugs! Alex

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  15. Heather - It depends on the crab apples. None of them are harmful, but some are darned un-tasty. But those are usually the ones that make the best jelly, too.

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  16. You should read The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan- wild apple trees can't be orchard variety trees. They can be wonderful in their own right, but trees sprouted from seeds don't reproduce the same types of fruits that they were originally from. They just don't work that way. Unless you were riding through an area that used to be an orchard and those trees are all true old orchard trees.

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  17. Mari - Thanks, I'm well aware of how apples reproduce. In fact, I'm considering grafting that particular tree onto one in my yard.

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