Caldwell County’s favorite apple? The verdict isn't in yet

Oct. 30, 2013 @ 11:07 AM

At the Sawmills Farmers Market on Tuesday, Caldwell County extension agent Amanda Taylor shoved a corer over a ripe gala apple and handed slices to two men standing nearby.

“Hoo, that’s good,” Phillip Honeycutt said after taking a bite.

Jerry Hicks, munching into his own slice, agreed.

“That there’s delicious, that one,” he said.

The Caldwell County Extension Service hosted an apple tasting at the Sawmills Farmers Market, stacking piles of North Carolina apples and encouraging visitors to the market to taste each one — then vote on their favorite.

There were seven local varieties — pink lady, honeycrisp, Arkansas black, gala, mutsu and golden delicious — and it’s the extension’s goal to determine Caldwell County’s favorite, in honor of National Apple Month in October.

“A lot of people don’t like apples, but they’ve never really had a good one,” Taylor said. “There are so many different varieties.”

The official results won’t be in until later this week, but there were clues scattered through the tasting event on Tuesday.

The people who stopped by the tent to taste apples — the adults eyeing the stand a little cautiously, the kids diving in with no hesitation but examining each apple meticulously — were almost all fans of the honeycrisps, which generally draw high prices at the grocery store.

Some loved the mutsus, declaring them crisp and just sweet enough. Others pursed their faces after biting in.

It was the same with several other varieties, from the galas to the Arkansas blacks: The verdict was mixed. The same sound Honeycutt made echoed through the tent, and could mean the apple was delicious (Hoo, that’s good) or unbearable (Hoo, Lord, that’s tart).

“I think it depends on your idea of what an apple should taste like,” Taylor said, as a woman to her left bit into a honeycrisp and said — there it was — “Hoo!”

Each taster filled out a survey, ranking each apple on tartness, on sweetness and on appearance before choosing their favorite.

Fourth-graders at Whitnel Elementary weighed in as well, tasting each apple during a recent school activity and writing poems about the results. The honeycrisp was a runaway winner there; in their poems, students rhapsodized about its “juicy, mellow, red-yellow color” and its “gurgly crunch.”

But who knows? The pink lady or the golden delicious may pull off a come-from-behind victory.

We’ll just have to see.