When I was child growing up in Maine in the 1960s and 1970s, I was aware of only a few varieties of apples—the ubiquitous McIntosh, Cortland, golden delicious, and the beautiful but bland red delicious. But sometime between then and now there has been an explosion of varieties to dazzle the apple lover—gala, honey crisp, Paula red, pink lady, to name just few. Some of the varieties now available are in fact very old and have made a comeback. Others are newer varieties, bred to appeal to the love people have for crunchiness, juiciness, tartness, and sweetness—all in one apple. I’ve tried a variety of apples, but when it comes to Maine apples, somehow I always seem to return to Cortlands for eating and McIntoshes for cooking.
But then fate intervened. A week or so ago, Ben, a friend of Shannon and Mike’s, posted on Facebook how much he loved Macoun apples. Since they were a variety I have never tasted, I took note, but I really didn’t think too much about them. However, last Sunday, at the Peace Pole celebration for Tom Sturtevant, Theresa Kerchner and her husband, Jim Perkins, provided apples for the reception. In a big bowl, there were a couple of varieties, some of them whole while others were cut up. Along with some cheese and crackers, I grabbed a few apples slices, the skins of which were bright red.
At first bite, I was smitten. This apple was crunchy, juicy, tart, and sweet. In short, everything an apple should be. I discovered that this apple was—you guessed it—a Macoun. Better yet, I discovered it was purchased at Lakeside Orchards in Manchester, just down the road from where I live.
On Monday, while doing errands, I bought my very own bag of Macoun apples, and I have been gorging on them ever since. I figure if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then two apples a day must really keep that doctor at bay.
Macouns are not a very old variety, but neither are they brand new. Introduced in 1923, Macouns are a cross between a McIntosh and a Jersey black, and they were named after the Canadian fruit grower W.T. Macoun.
From now on, Macouns will be my apple of choice, and I’ll be buying them for as long as they are available. I am constantly amazed at how many new tricks this old dog can learn, and I thank Ben, Theresa, and Jim for introducing me to this little red beauty, my new love.