Book Review: The New Book of Apples
May 7, 2010
The New Book of Apples: The Definitive Guide to Apples, Including Over 2,000 Varieties by Joan Morgan and Alison Richards was first published in 1993 and revised in 2002.
It starts off with a long history of the apple which is several chapters long with historical drawings of apples in culture.
Skipping to the Directory of Apple Varieties, it starts out talking about different flavor descriptors, culinary apples, and then tree habits like flowering, bud types, tree vigor, time to pick, and apple shapes to give you guides to help identify apple breeds. When it gets to the actual breeds, it looks very much like a dictionary with its short descriptions and column like format. It splits the apples into two sections. The first is for “dessert, fresh eating”, “culinary”, or both, and the second smaller section is for cider only apples. My Ashmead’s Kernel is in the book and has a slightly bigger than average entry, but there is a lot of short hand and other things that cause me to keep referencing what it means. My Dabinett, on the other hand, is a small entry. They read:
ASHEMEAD’S KERNEL 8 L D [8 = russeted, usually sweet, dessert varieties, L = late use, D = dessert, fresh eating]
UK; according to Hogg raise in C 18th by physician Dr Ashmead but local historians now believe this to be an error. It is more likely that William Ashmead (d 1782), Clerk of Gloucester City, raised this variety in garden of house, which became Ashmead House, Gloucester. Ronalds records in 1831 that tree was then 100 years’ old. RHS FCC 1981; AGM 1993
Strong, sweet-sharp intense flavor reminiscent of fruit or acid drops and of Nonpareil, but sweeter than its probable parent; firm, white flesh. Long esteemed by connoisseurs; widely planted from mid-C19th and recently regain popularity in England and North America.
Grown commercially on small scale in England, but dull colour, poor crops weight against it.
Frt Col grnish yell/yell, some frt flushed in diffuse brownish rd/orng rd; many russet patches, netting, dots. Size med. Shape fltrnd [flat-round]; sltly flt sides; sltly ribbed. Basin [opposite of the stem] brd, shal [broad shallow]; sltly ribbed; russet lined. Eye [in the basin where the flower petals would have been] hlf open; sepals med to lng, v downy. Cavity [where the stem attaches] med dpth, wdth; russet lined. Stalk shrt, qte thck. Flesh wht.
F* [attractive blossom] 14 [optimum pollination time]. T2 . C [crop] gd but erratic poss due to cold springs; prn bitter pit. P [pick] e/m-Oct. S [storage] Dec-Feb.
DABINETT full bittersweet, vintage [referring to the acid and tannin classification, age]
Found prob early 1900s, in a hedge in Middle Lambrook, Somerset, by Mr William Dabinett. Believed Chisel Jersey seedling.
Small, greenish yellow, flushed and striped in red; strong aroma when ripe. Produces sweet, astringent juice and bittersweet cider with ‘soft, full bodied, astringency’. Grown all cider countrids and widely planted intensive orchards.
F m [mid season flowering]; slf fertile. T1 [weak vigior]; prec, gd crops. H [harvest] Nov.
This book has beautiful paintings of apples by Elisabeth Dowle, but there are only 32 paintings in a book that boasts talking about 2,000 apples.
This book contains three major appendices – cooking with apples (5 pages long), growing apples (8 pages long), and further information. I find it a pity that growing apples, which includes soil, climate, rootstock, pruning, grafting, training, diseases, and pests are given so little thought after so much is given to the history in 164 pages and cataloging 2,000 varieties of apples in 103 pages. This kind of shows me that this is not an apple orchardist book, and would even be difficult to use to identify apples with so few pictures. This is a book for historians. At £35.00 (approximately $50), I will not be buying this book and instead check it out from the library should I want it.
Speaking of apple history books, The Story of the Apple by Barrie B Juniper and David J Mabberley published in 2006 is exclusively one, and has an impressive reference section. It does have a section on cyder, but I’m currently too busy to read a history book.