On the Nightstand
Apples of Uncommon Character: Heirlooms, Modern Classics, and Little-Known Wonders
While supermarkets limit their offerings to a few waxy options, apple trees with lives spanning human generations are producing characterful varieties-and now they are in the midst of a rediscovery. From heirlooms to new designer breeds, a delicious diversity of apples is out there for the eating.
Apples have strong personalities, ranging from crabby to wholesome. The Black Oxford apple is actually purple, and looks like a plum. The Knobbed Russet looks like the love child of a toad and a potato. (But don’t be fooled by its looks.) The D’Arcy Spice leaves a hint of allspice on the tongue. Cut Hidden Rose open and its inner secret is revealed.
With more than 150 art-quality color photographs, Apples of Uncommon Character shows us the fruit in all its glory. Jacobsen collected specimens both common and rare from all over North America, selecting 120 to feature, including the best varieties for eating, baking, and hard-cider making. Each is accompanied by a photograph, history, lore, and a list of characteristics. The book also includes 20 recipes, savory and sweet, resources for buying and growing, and a guide to the best apple festivals. It’s a must-have for every foodie.
For decades fruit growers have sprayed their trees with toxic chemicals in an attempt to control a range of insect and fungal pests. Yet it is possible to grow apples responsibly, by applying the intuitive knowledge of our great-grandparents with the fruits of modern scientific research and innovation.
Since The Apple Grower first appeared in 1998, orchardist Michael Phillips has continued his research with apples, which have been called “organic’s final frontier.” In this new edition of his widely acclaimed work, Phillips delves even deeper into the mysteries of growing good fruit with minimal inputs. Some of the cutting edge topics he explores include:
- The use of kaolin clay as an effective strategy against curculio and borers, as well as its limitations
- Creating a diverse, healthy orchard ecosystem through understory management of plants, nutrients, and beneficial microorganisms
- How to make a small apple business viable by focusing on heritage and regional varieties, value-added products, and the “community orchard” model
The author’s personal voice and clear-eyed advice have already made The Apple Grower a classic among small-scale growers and home orchardists. In fact, anyone serious about succeeding with apples needs to have this updated edition on their bookshelf.
To make the very best cider―whether for yourself, your family, and friends or for market―you first need a deep understanding of the processes involved, and the art and science behind them. Fortunately, The New Cider Maker’s Handbook is here to help. Author Claude Jolicoeur is an internationally known, award-winning cider maker with an inquiring, scientific mind. His book combines the best of traditional knowledge and techniques with up-to-date, scientifically based practices to provide today’s cider makers with all the tools they need to produce high-quality ciders.
The New Cider Maker’s Handbook is divided into five parts containing:
- An accessible overview of the cider making process for beginners;
- Recommendations for selecting and growing cider-appropriate apples;
- Information on juice-extraction equipment and directions on how to build your own grater mill and cider press;
- A discussion of the most important components of apple juice and how these may influence the quality of the cider;
- An examination of the fermentation process and a description of methods used to produce either dry or naturally sweet cider, still or sparkling cider, and even ice cider.
This book will appeal to both serious amateurs and professional cider makers who want to increase their knowledge, as well as to orchardists who want to grow cider apples for local or regional producers. Novices will appreciate the overview of the cider-making process, and, as they develop skills and confidence, the more in-depth technical information will serve as an invaluable reference that will be consulted again and again. This book is sure to become the definitive modern work on cider making.
A mechanical engineer by profession, Claude Jolicoeur first developed his passion for apples and cider after acquiring a piece of land on which there were four rows of old abandoned apple trees. He started making cider in 1988 using a “no-compromise” approach, stubbornly searching for the highest possible quality. Since then, his ciders have earned many awards and medals at competitions, including a Best of Show at the prestigious Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition (GLINTCAP).
Rowan Jacobsen is the author of A Geography of Oysters, Fruitless Fall, The Living Shore, American Terroir, Shadows on the Gulf, and Apples of Uncommon Character. He has written for the New York Times, Harper’s, Outside, Mother Jones, Orion, The Boston Globe, and others, and his work has been anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing and Best Food Writing collections. He has won a couple of James Beard Awards, an IACP award, and some others. His 2010 book, American Terroir, was named one of the Top Ten Books of the Year by Library Journal. His Outside Magazine piece Heart of Dark Chocolate received the Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers for best adventure story of the year, and his Harper’s piece The Homeless Herd was named best magazine piece of the year by the Overseas Press Club. He was a 2012 Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow, writing about endangered diversity on the borderlands between India, Myanmar, and China. He lives in Vermont. Learn more at http://www.rowanjacobsen.com