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Arkansas Black Applemania!

Every year, beginning around October, I start whining and pestering the produce folks at Berkeley Bowl and Monterey Market about these apples. I become a 5 year old sitting in the back seat of the family car as we start out on vacation: "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" Finally, yesterday, at Monterey Market, they WERE there! I grabbed a bunch and could hardly wait until we got home to devour one.

What a treat! The crispest, tartest, darkest apple around. I hesitated to write about them due to fear that others would buy them all up, but then I decided that it could make the BB and the MM purchase more and more to fill the demand.

So now I have to get back to Berkeley immediately so I can stock up.

Has anybody cooked with them? I never have any left over after gobbling them all up immediately upon arriving home.

!Que viven los Negros de Arkansas!

JoanMo

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  1. Have you called Walker's Apple Farm in Graton. Arkansas Black were one of their varieties. It's a great road trip with stops at Matos Cheese , Hole in the Wall and you get to see what's up.
    Walker's Apples
    10955 Upp Rd
    Graton, CA 95444

    1. The Arkansas Black apples from Devoto have been at the Tuesday (and Sat.) Ferry Bldg. lately. All of the heirloom apples they grow are delicious. http://www.devotogardens.com/arkansas...

      1. Went to Walker's Apples two weekends ago, they had Arkansas Blacks, Pink Ladies, Granny Smith, Winesap (getting soft), Baldwin, Rome Beauties, Jonathans, Golden Delicious. Still only $25 for about a 40 lb box. I got a mixed box of Arkansas Blacks, Pink Ladies, Rome Beauties, and Baldwins. The Arkansas Blacks are among my favorites. Best get there real soon before the close for the year.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Ericruo

          Walkers is still open! I called them today to confirm. Going up there this weekend and likely get my last box of apples for the season.

          1. re: Ericruo

            Thank you, I might have to stop in tomorrow. Here's an older thread with more info about Walker's.
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/567663

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Went to Walker's on Sunday, still open and will be open for a while but would close earlier than normal. I bought Arkansas Black, Rome Beauties (really interesting finish to that flavor!), Sierra Beauties, (never had that before) Pink Ladies, Granny Smith. They had other sweet apples such as Golden Delicious, Fujis but I'm not a fan of apples that are only sweet. Giving away apples like a mad person now...

              1. re: Ericruo

                Since I didn't get over there on Sunday, I'm happy to know I have another chance. Had to pick up my turkey before 4pm, then decided not to drive up Walker's slope in the rain after dark.

                Yeah, I overbuy as well when I go there, one reason I've avoided. But it's fun to give them away!

                1. re: Ericruo

                  Sierra Beauty apples are widely regarded among pastry chefs as the best baking apples in the area.

                  When fully ripe, Golden Delicious apples are not merely sweet, they have a complex flavor, great for eating out of hand but also one of the best for making tarte tatin. They should be solid yellow, without a hint of green, sometimes with a pink blush (good luck finding those around here).

          2. imho, they make a fantastic apple pie. I forget if I mixed them with Granny Smith or not, but what's awesome is that they turn the pie pink and they have a really delicious sweet flavor. I'm a fan too, in case you haven't noticed. I got mine at Berkeley Bowl. Lucky for you, I moved to SoCal.

            1. The ones I got from Hillview Farm at the JLS farmers' market look beautiful, but they're as hard as baseballs!

              10 Replies
              1. re: Pius Avocado III

                Fresh off the tree they are hard. They need to age.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Ruth, a question about aging Arkansas Black Apples ..... what time period are we talking about?

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    I love them because they are hard. I thought that was one of the selling points. Different strokes, huh?

                    1. re: srr

                      I also like them because they are crisp but I got the iimpression that ripening them would result in a juicier experience not a mushier one.

                      1. re: gordon wing

                        Right. Juicier. Otherwise, they're kind of dry and woody.

                        I've never counted the days, Gordon. A week at cool room temp, minimum, I'd think. This thread recommends a month: http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/l...

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Thanks! Ruth. i'll try to resist eating a few for a spell. Will buy some more and stick them down in the basement for a month.

                          1. re: gordon wing

                            I just cut into one of the Arkansas Black apples that I put away in the basement 3 weeks ago ....... definitely different: not as crisp and tart ...... touch of mealyness and somewhat more moist but not juicy per se. Not sure I like this any better than when I tried some 3 weeks ago. Of course, I don't know how long these apples were off the tree - got them at Monterey Mkt.

                            1. re: gordon wing

                              Commercial apple storage is around 32 degrees at 95% humidity. Your basement's probably considerably warmer and dryer.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                you're right, Robert ...... my basement isn't 32 degrees and 95% humidity. but the point of the excercise was to see if waiting to eat them made a difference for consumers at home. at least that's what what my exchange with Ruth was about.

                                1. re: gordon wing

                                  Some people think they improve in storage (I like them hard), but at room temperature they'll just get mealy and dry.

                2. I saw two stands with Arkansas Blacks at Ferry Plaza on Saturday: (Philo) Apple Farm in back and one in front near the central doors. The Apple Farm was also carrying my favorite (and Thomas Jefferson's favorite) apple, the Spitzenburg, so I bought a mess of those and didn't pick up any Arkansas Blacks, but I should while they're still available!

                  1. Just ate my first -- from the BB -- organic Arkansas Black and it was a perfect launch of the season.

                    1. I had some good ones from Berkeley Bowl last week. The ones at Jack London yesterday were weirdly pale.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Monterey Market had them for 1.89 pound .... organic ......tasty.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Odd, the ones I got at JLS the week prior were dark plum-colored; indeed, nearly black.

                          Assuming they're not pale next week I'll buy some and put them aside for awhile.

                        2. Some of the orchards in Watsonville have the Arkansas Black. I am a great fan of the Black Twig, which I believe is similar. Try Gizdich:

                          http://www.gizdich-ranch.com/index.php

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: SunsetKid

                            Star grocery on claremont in berkeley has some beautiful,fresh dark and crisp Arkansas Black apples.

                          2. Yet another reason to move to the Bay area. It is my favorite apple and have never seen them on the east coast. Thus forced to buy mail order, you guys are very lucky

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                              do you visit the farmers markets in autumn in your former home state, PA ? when we were in DC we saw some interesting apple varieties from PA apple farms.

                              for folks in these parts who can't get up to the apple farms or to the Ferry building, Rainbow grocery (SF) often has the Ark blacks, and the produce shop in Rockridge 'market hall' sometimes has them.

                              1. re: moto

                                Was weaned on winesaps, easily available in PA, but l am never in Pa in the fall, always Paris. Winesaps are a good substitute for Ark Black, but they are not Ark Black.

                              2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                Arkansas Blacks are grown on the East Coast, though they might be even harder to find there than here.

                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8698...

                                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                  Just curious, but aren't Arkansas Black Apples easiest to get in Arkansas?

                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                    Could be, l get mine from Applesource, which supposedly gets them from some place in Midwest.

                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                      Thanks for the quick reply. I am sure they are grown throughout the Midwest. Likely they are hard to grow on the West Coast.

                                  2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                    Yeah, but you have Macouns, which are very rare on the West Coast and don't grow particularly well (my favorite apple grower says the soil isn't right for top-notch Macouns).