What I know (or knew) about apples: There a many different kinds. Some I like and some I do not.
In this book, author Tom Burford has opened my eyes somewhat to a veritable cornucopia of apple varieties. So many, in fact, that this was almost overwhelming. Almost.
Burford gives a great deal of information on nearly 200 varieties of apples (this is not a complete list … these are the ‘exceptional varieties’ according to the book’s subtitle). This information generally includes a brief history of the variety, other names it might be known as, a description of the exterior of the apple (ie: shape, size, color), a description of the interior of the fruit (such as crispness, sweetness, etc), the productivity of the tree, the fruit’s disease resistance, the ripening season, storage quality, and uses for the variety (desert, baking, cider-making, vinegar making, etc). I thought it was interesting that only five of the 200 listed mentioned that they were good for ‘eating-out-of-hand.’
After the brief look at the different apple varieties, Burford also presents the reader with ‘Recommended Uses of Apple Varieties,’ a look at planning and planting a home orchard and tree care, and some apple products.
Burford clearly has a great deal of knowledge about and a love affair with the apple. He comes from a family that has grown apples in the United States since the early 1700’s and there’s probably no one better suited to give us the 411 on apples. And in many ways I feel quite prepared for a trivia night or a series of apple questions on Jeopardy after reading this book.
The bulk of the book is the look at the different varieties, most of which I’ve never heard of or seen in any of my local stores or markets (I live in the upper Midwest). If I wanted an Early Joe or Westfield Seek-No-Further apple, where would I find one? What does it mean when one of the best apples I’ve eaten in a long time (an Envy) isn’t even listed? This is a wonderful list with some great insight, but it is not very practical from my standpoint.
I have thought it might be nice to have an apple tree in my yard (until I have to mow the yard, of course) and to that end, the information about planting and tree care is quite helpful even though I’m unlikely to take any action in this regard.
Something I didn’t see here, but rather expected, was a growing zone. For the 200 varieties listed, am I likely to find them in Minnesota? In Colorado? Virginia? Florida?
There are a number of apple varieties listed here that I’d like to check out, but I’m not sure I’ll ever find them.
Looking for a good book? Tom Burford’s Apples of North America provides a great deal of information about nearly 200 apple varieties, as well as expert advice on planting, growing, and maintaining apple trees.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Apples of North America: A Celebration of Exceptional Varieties
author: Tom Burford
publisher: Timber Press
paperback, 312 pages