Yesterday I went with two friends to Harvest Festival at the local state park. As far as I was concerned, the main attraction was the apple tasting, sponsored by the California Rare Fruit Growers. They had 65 varieties, only a few of which we recognized. There were 4 long tables, and the apples were arranged roughly from acidic (more tart) to sweet.
As you can see in this picture, everyone got a clipboard, with all the varieties named, and room for you to take notes. At the end, there was a big board where you could vote for your 3 favorites. I had a hard time choosing, but some of my favorites were: Blacktwig, King David, Brushy Mountain Limbertwig, Rubinette, My Jewel and Sunny Russet. My friend Laura tasted with me and she was really good at it. She had a great palette, and was very skilled at discussing the flavor nuances. I was impressed!
Another reason I wanted to go, was to see if someone would help identify what kind of apple tree I have. Someone planted the tree before we bought the house, so I don't know what kind they are. They are delicious fresh (crispy, juicy, a good sweet-tart balance), great in pies, and great in applesauce. So, I'm just thrilled. But I'd love to know what kind they are. The fellow they referred me to took a few bites, inspected them and said that his best guess was York Imperial, which he said is generally more of an East Coast variety. I will do some more research and see if that fits the bill. As for identifying, he said the main 3 things to look for are appearance, taste, and season (when they ripen in the apple season). Most of all, I was filled with pride and joy when he enthusiastically said "Wow! This is a really great apple!"
Whatever they are, at least I know that the man who grows 65 varieties agrees that our mystery apples are really great!