Friday, January 15, 2016

An apple a day for a snob.



I am an apple snob and it is not entirely my fault.  It is because I spent my early pre-teen and a few later years living in Ohio and Michigan. Up in that part of the USA, apples grow everywhere and some trees have so many large apples on them, they break the limbs due to the extra weight.

Apples are like people in that there are many varieties and some are sweeter, larger, crisper, sourer, disgusting… etcetera. Recently an ex-councilman decided because he knows me that I would be a prime target to buy apples from him and a whole case at that. I think it is noble that one of the many clubs he belongs to sells apples to raise money for whatever they raise money for, but like I told him, “I don’t like the apples they sell because I am an apple snob.”

I know this was a direct, honest, and possibly unwanted answer, but what in the world am I going to do with all those apples I don’t like… give them away? I reckon that would have been a kinder gesture than my straight forward answer. Let me explain about why I am an apple snob. In the Buckeye State when I was a child, kids carried salt shakers in their pockets and after about 3 baseball games, we would ride our bikes to the orchards, climb up in the trees and eat green apples.

If you’ve seen the movie “Sandlot”, this was my childhood. Now, if you think we were putting a dent in the number of apples on these trees, you’ve never seen apple trees loaded with fruit. It’s practically impossible to exaggerate their numbers. Imagine a Granny Smith apple (not one that was picked two weeks before it was ready to be picked so it could be shipped to a grocery store) that is a just about ready to begin sweetening, but still sour and sprinkle salt on it until it has just the right amount.

The salt makes it bearable to eat without your jaws contracting (you know what I mean) and is so delicious that you eat the entire apple, core, *seeds, and all tossing the stem to the ground. It is so juicy and delicious; it’s like eating meat, sweets, and juice in each bite. After about 6 or 7 big fat juicy apples, you lick your fingers and carefully place the small patch of wax paper over the top of the shaker, and screw the lid back on it. Now you have had lunch and can resume the game.

Fuji Apples
I can’t remember ever going home for lunch when playing baseball in Ohio. We always ate apples. I loved to eat pears and cherries too, but let me tell you something about wild cherry trees you may not know. Most non-nursery trees are large and dangerous to climb and each cherry you can reach, you do so at risk of breaking your arms, legs, and maybe your neck, as gravity is not your friend.

Pear trees are finicky and the same tree, depending on the rain it gets and when it gets it, can bear a wide variation in the quality of the fruit. Just when you think you have found the perfect tree, the next year it is tasteless, too hard, or yucky. In Hillsdale, Michigan, we had (if I remember right) 12 apple trees and a cloned apple/pear tree. This particular tree would grow one fruit one ear and the next, the other, but it always had some of both.

These days I don’t eat many apples and it’s mainly because I don’t have enough teeth left to chew them up completely, but if I did, I would buy the Fuji and the Honey crisp varieties because they taste real good and are crisp.  Because I know the difference, I would be willing to bet they would be many times better if I could get them off the tree. When I lived in Southeast Asia, I would eat the pineapple right after it ripened on the bush and it was like eating candy. It was non-acidic and totally pleasing. The same went for the watermelon and the indigenous fruit.

Honey Crisp
Our measly selection of bananas is due to what holds up the best when shipped. I remember finger bananas right off the tree that although they were white-meated, they were buttery and sweet like sugar. We get about 3 of the over 1000 varieties of bananas in our stores. Can you imagine trying even 100 different bananas to see which ones you liked the most?

In my high school years in Georgia we would wade in the creeks and pick black berries which were larger than a big man’s thumb. That red clay soil and the water made them so big that a couple dozen was all you needed to make a small pie. Of course each berry was picked knowing the plentiful snakes also eat berries.

When I lived in Utah, we ate enough wild plumbs to feed a small army of chiren. In California, we again ate bananas and tangerines off the many trees and occasionally lemons. Now days, we eat what the grocery stores sell and that is one poor substitute for tree-ripened fruit.

I don’t know what got me on this subject today, but I do miss those Ohio apple orchards.

Note: Yes, we ate the seeds and lots of them.
*

6 comments:

Patrick Newman said...

Excellent post! I consider myself a "beer snob," and refuse to drink that cheap, mass produced swill. I'd rather drink water or tea than settle for a cheap beer.

Your comment about picking apples directly off the tree and not making an appreciable difference reminded me of dong the same thing with corn. Growing up in Odem, TX we had a field directly across the street from us. The farmer who owned the field told us to pick all the corn we wanted, as it wouldn't make a difference to him. I really looked forward to picking and eating that sweet corn in late summer.

Anonymous said...

Loved reading this Bert. Last summer I spent the night in an old farmhouse in OH and when we were about to leave the lady of the house practically begged us to take apples. The orchard was absolutely packed and they were the best apples I think I ever had. Kathy & Debbie Killian also had some great apples down by the chicken houses. Green and so good! ..Debi

Anonymous said...

Melvin Roark:
I liked your article today, amazing how we take things for granted. Would be nice to walk out and pick an apple from the tree, but the weather is too cold where they grow for me in the winter...lol

Anonymous said...

Tracey Fuqua: Bert Marshall I love your article today. Kids today will never understand. Where were you from? My dad was from Ohio. We spent two weeks there every other summer and always made trips to an orchard for apples. My grandmother always made apple dumplings (like cinnamon rolls but with apples added) for dinner on a Sunday evening while we were there. We poured milk on the warm dumplings. I just made some this weekend in fact. The smell of them baking and that first bite always take me back to my childhood! My grandfather also had an apple press and made cider while we were there sometimes. My dad's Aunt Bernice was the party chef for Dan Galbreath and lived in a house at Darby Dan Farm. His cousin Donna worked there too, and she lived in a house surrounded by his cherry orchard. We would pick a couple flats of cherries before we left, and I would eat cherries all the way back to Texas! Oh the good old days.

Anonymous said...

KC: Look like you had a pretty good childhood. I know I really enjoyed mine.

Anonymous said...

CK: The pear was actually king of the fruit before apples and as usual the industry for apples grew and the breeds were reduced to a few to sell to us. This goes for everything we do with beef, pork, corn and etc.

Variety is the spice of life and maybe a defense for disease.

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