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Apples of Uncommon Character

Apples of Uncommon Character Cover

Apples of Uncommon Character

123 Heirlooms, Modern Classics, & Little-Known Wonders

By Rowan Jacobsen

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Hardcover, 9781620402276, 311pp.

Publication Date: September 2, 2014


In his classic "A Geography of Oysters," Rowan Jacobsen forever changed the way America talks about its best bivalve. Now he does the same for our favorite fruit, showing us that there is indeed life beyond Red Delicious-and even Honeycrisp. 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.

About the Author
Rowan Jacobsen is the James Beard Award-winning author of "A Geography of Oysters," "Fruitless Fall," "The Living Shore, "and "American Terroir." He has written for the "New York Times," "Harper's," "Outside, Mother Jones, Orion, " and others, and his work has been anthologized in The "Best American Science and Nature Writing" and" Best Food Writing" collections. Whether visiting endangered oystermen in Louisiana or cacao-gathering tribes in the Bolivian Amazon, his subject is how to maintain a sense of place in a world of increasing placelessness. He lives in rural Vermont.

Praise For Apples of Uncommon Character

“Rowan Jacobsen is one of the best writers reporting on, and thinking about, food today. Period.” —Michael Ruhlman, author of The Soul of a Chef and Ratio “Jacobsen leads with his fearless palate every time—he’s a down-to-earth companion you listen to, even if you don't always agree with him.” —The Boston Globe on A Geography of Oysters

“One cannot help but get a little hungry while perusing Jacobsen’s enchanting book. Part manifesto, part travelogue, part science lesson, and part cookbook, this saliva-inducing work is . . . a sensual, titillating, sometimes lewd journey into the best foodstuffs of America.” —The New Republic on American Terroir

"Jacobsen eases readers into discussions of chemistry, history, geography, and gastronomy with cavalier charm and worldly wit... Inspirational and highly engaging." —Library Journal on American Terroir

Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Scott Farm in Vermont grows 100 apple varieties, some of them dating back to the 1700s. These apples may not look as pretty as the Red Delicious, but what they lack in looks they make up for in taste. More at

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