Elisabeth C. Miller Library

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Knowledgebase record #276

Apples of Uncommon Character by Rowan Jacobsen, 2014

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson
Review date: 2016-10-01

Apples of Uncommon Character cover

Rowan Jacobsen, the author of "Apples of Uncommon Character," lives in Vermont and is fascinated by apples, but instead of a grower he is primarily an “apple stalker” to use his own term. He credits many professionals for his knowledge, including Tom Burford, author of "Apples of North America," who “helped me see the eternal in the apple tree.”

The author’s list of favorite varieties, including some that originated outside North America, is the principal part of this book. These include 'Spokane Beauty': "This Brobdingnagian apple is probably the best to hail from Washington State….yet its fame has not spread beyond the Northwest.” He notes it may be the largest apple known, but retains its crispness and “…makes wonderfully zippy sweet cider."

Another favorite is 'Hudson's Golden Gem' from Tangent, Oregon (east of Corvallis). He describes this apple as thinking it’s a pear in shape, coloring, russeting (freckles on the skin) and “…the intense aromatics. Even the granular texture is pearlike.”

Jacobsen is a well-known food author and he particularly enjoys sharing his favorite recipes for apples, and making recommendations on which varieties to use for each (although he also urges the reader to experiment). While I expected a number of desserts, I was surprised to learn that apples can be used in everything from appetizers to salsa to pot pies.

The photographs of each dish will have you drooling, and throughout the photographs of the apple varieties are engaging and distinctive, with some taken at Harmony Orchards in Tieton, Washington.

Excerpted from the Fall 2016 Arboretum Bulletin.

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