To celebrate the season, invite some friends over to enjoy sampling varieties of apples from yesteryear. I invited 5 friends over for a casual sit-down party to sample twelve different varieties. Each apple was sliced and passed around while I shared some of the history about the fruit. Guests had score cards to judge which apple was their favorite. To cleanse the palette between samples, we also nibbled on fresh baked French bread and butter, cheese, and walnuts.
Gather the Apples
To being planning your tasting party, find out if there are local growers in your area. Your county extension service might be able to help you with that information, or visit your local farmers’ market. If a local source isn’t available, order a sampler box of apples from a mail order company. For a group of six people, plan to sample around twelve varieties of apples at the party.
Before Guests Arrive
- Make a place card label for each apple variety.
- Prepare a short description of each apple. Stories about its history and use are always of interest.
- Provide a 4 x 6 index card for each guest to use as a scorecard with columns for variety name, score and comments.
- Set the table with a dinner plate, a sharp fruit knife or paring knife, a pencil, and a scorecard for each guest.
- Set out several wooden bowls for collecting the cores and peeling and cutting boards of cheese, baskets of bread and butter and bowls of walnuts.
Once Guests are Seated
- Take the first apple and divide it in six slices, one for each guest.
- Leave the slices intact with core and peel and pass them on a plate.
- As the apple is passed around, read the description.
- Give everyone a chance to sample and discuss the flavor.
- Repeat until all the apples have been sampled.
- You can either gather the cards and compile the scores or tally the score as a group once the sampling is complete.
You may also want to ask your guests to bring copies of their favorite apple recipe. At the end of the party guests can take the recipes home as a keepsake.
Great Baking Apples
Arkansas Black – sharp flavor and aromatic.
Baldwin – a nice blend of sweet and tart.
Empire – slightly tart, all-purpose apple.
Golden Delicious – mellow and sweet.
Ida Red – tangy and tart, keeps its shape in baking.
Jonathan – moderately tart, and a bit spicy.
Rome Beauty – richly flavored, holds its shape well.
York – Firm, crisp and winy flavor.