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Apples of Uncommon Character: Heirlooms, Modern Classics, and Little-Known Wonders

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  200 ratings  ·  54 reviews
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 charact ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Bloomsbury USA
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Pamela Conley I too found this book from NPR. As the owner of an almost centennial family farm with several ancient apple trees I found it interesting. I am about 2…moreI too found this book from NPR. As the owner of an almost centennial family farm with several ancient apple trees I found it interesting. I am about 2/3rds of the way through it. The language is lovely and the pictures are beautiful. (less)

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Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am utterly obsessed and fascinated with apples. You will find me in orchards apple-picking, buying pounds and pounds of the fruit to single-handedly consume, and a smile will be fixed on my face by the various varieties available in stores during the four seasons. This isn’t just for the flavor but also for the genetic wonder (they aren’t as simple as you think!) and artistic beauty they encompass. James Beard Award-Winning author Rowan Jacobsen shares my passion beyond the standard Red Delici ...more
Pamela Conley
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I horded it like a box of expensive chocolates reading it a few pages at a time. The pictures are beautiful and the descriptions of each apple read like poetry. This is a must read if you are an apple geek and if you aren't an apple geek read this book and you will become one. You will never look at an apple the same way again. ...more
Mark Schultz
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature, 5-star, favorites
Apples of Uncommon Character: 123 Heirlooms, Modern Classics, and Little-Known Wonders, by Rowan Jacobsen, 2014. This was a fun book to read! It tells some of the history of the apple, and of specific apple varieties, combined with gorgeous photographs of apples and orchards, and descriptions of varieties of this wonderful fruit. I mean, did you know, all you McIntosh apple-eaters, that every Mac you’ve eaten comes from a seedling that Canadian farmer John McIntosh decided to save rather that ro ...more
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pomology
If you, like myself, have an interest in Pomology, then this is the book for you. A complete book on Apples in America and how they should be used in cooking. I would recommend this equally to a would-be orchard owner like myself as well as a cook who has an interest in using apples to their utmost in the kitchen. (Also me)
At the core of this book is some solid history of this, but what I found a-peeling was the narrative where something that could be boring to most is instead engaging. The rati
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
100 Stars is Not Enough, Wonderful

I'm overwhelmed at how much I loved this book. It contains fun readable history, science that's not too technical, hilarious opinions. I loved the facts about seeds, grafting, even Flower of Kent (the Isaac Newton apple). Understanding commercialization. I used to work in a Flavor Development Lab; the taste and texture descriptions are outstanding. Finally, it was so uplifting to read about treasures lost making a comeback due to artisan growers and other 'apple
Helen Dunn
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-stars
Most people who know me know that I LOVE apples. If you are like me, you should run to your nearest bookseller and pick up this book.

I can't say that I have read every page yet but I've read a large chunk and I use it continually as a reference. I plan to seek out the many, many apples I have never heard of or tried that are listed here.

The included photos are lovely, the descriptions vivid and completely on the nose as far as taste and character.
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Loved this book. Must get more apples! Must grow more apples someday. Learn to make cider? Yes! Let's add that to the list of things I could try when retired someday. Don't miss this book which was so funny in places, I laughed out loud. ...more
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In Rowan Jacobsen’s book, the reader is informed of each apple’s Origin, Appearance, Flavor, Texture, Season, Use, and Regions grown. As you turn page after page of gorgeous photos (styled by Clare Barboza) and rapturous prose, you start selecting favorites and wondering which orchards might offer these gems.

Here’s a sampling from just a few of his apples. The descriptions are from his book:

Pitmaston Pineapple - Appearance: "A smoothly conical, little golf ball of an apple. Its russet skin makes
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Like a bowl of fruit, this is a nice book to have flopped open on the kitchen table. You can absentmindedly flip through the gorgeous pictures, with each apple variety described with an encyclopedic entry near the photo, with headings describing the origin, appearance, flavor, texture, season, use, and region. Arranged so consistently, and with the apples grouped according to use ("Bakers and Saucers", "Keepers", etc), it's natural to want to compare them, flipping back and forth. They are all a ...more
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a good book to read if you are interested in heirloom apples. The introduction provides a brief history of apple culture and how it spread in the U.S. The book itself is broken into six separate sections: summer apples (ones that ripen early), dessert apples (good to eat out of hand), bakers and saucers, keepers, cider fruit, and oddballs (don't fit in the other categories). It ends with a diverse collection of recipes.

Each of the 142 entries provides the common name of the apple, any al
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A truly delightful look at 123 varieties of apples, their strengths, their weaknesses, and their uses.

This is a not boring recitation of information about apples. The author injects some humor and interest into all the descriptions. He also includes history and fun facts. For example, did you know that the character of Rambo by David Morrell was named after the Summer Rambo apple? That the apple that led Isaac Newton to ponder gravity was a Flower of Kent?

Other fun comments about various varieti
Mark Buchignani
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food
Rowan Jacobsen, author of numerous food volumes and self-described apple stalker, wonderfully describes a swath of varieties that have achieved notoriety in the last three hundred years, focusing on origins, offering first-tree vignettes when possible, and discussing trends in buying and breeding. Red! No, more red! No, deeper red! His entertaining, energetic prose is as sweet and tart as the Northern Spy and will serve to awaken the apple lover in anyone who reads the book, whether from cover t ...more
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm what I believe the author referred to as an "apple geek." Growing up, I didn't like apples...well, I didn't like GROCERY STORE apples. I liked the ones from the old tree at my grandparents' just fine. Then, as an adult, I discovered the wonderful world of heirloom apples and the new and exciting apples coming from the breeding programs at the universities. I love russet apples in particular, but also the great variety of colors, textures, and flavors of apples from the dedicated small orchar ...more
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
A gorgeous book with wonderful photographs of "uncommon" apple varieties which is more of a book for apple addicted people then serious cooks or gardeners. Each apple featured has a write up on its history, flavor, and best applications for eating. The end of the book includes just a few recipes. What the book doesn't have for cooks is the common varieties found at the grocery and many farm stands, as a result it can't be considered a comprehensive guide to cooking with apples. Information for g ...more
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book has very good photographs and descriptions of many apple cultivars. About the only thing I didn't care for was the author's attitude about the Granny Smith apple, which happens to be a favorite. Other than that, this is an excellent book for apple enthusiasts. It includes apples you find in the grocery store (Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, etc.), as well as a great number of apples you would find in orchards across the country. It has a great description of Black Twig, a ...more
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author knows so much about apples that it amazed me. He got me wanting to track down some of these uncommon varieties so I can taste them for myself. There are 123 apple described and he used some creative wording to describe them such as "a bizzare fiddlehead finish."
Hats off to the great photographs supplied by Clare Barboza who incorporated some interesting antiques and unlike almost all other photographers did not avoid shooting blemished fruit. That was a sort of warts and all approach.
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book. I love apples and always lament that there are so few varieties available in the grocery store. This book covers the history of the apple, which I'd never known before! It has beautiful portraits of the 123 featured apples, their history and even recipes. The descriptions of each apple are sometimes over the top, but if I had to uniquely describe 123 apples, I'd probably go for over the top as well. ...more
Monica Fastenau
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Read the full review here:

If you’ve ever refused to eat an apple because you thought it might be bland, one-note, or overly sweet, you need to explore the world of apples Jacobsen presents in Apples of Uncommon Character. This book features a collection of uncommon, often antique apples that I now want to eat immediately.
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, gifts-to-give
Filled will beautiful pictures of so many varieties of apples. The end of the book has 20 recipes, some I plan to try. Living in Wenatchee WA, the apple capital of the world, it was fun to learn where some of the many apples we grow here where they originated from. I loved this book and would definitely give it as a gift and/or I may ask for it for Christmas!
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A modern-day reference for heirloom apple varieties with gorgeous pictures and great write-ups. The book is well-researched and written, but also funny and fascinating. This will have you on the hunt for lesser known apple varieties and feasting on them. I have loads of apple books, but this one is one of my favourites.
Dec 31, 2016 rated it liked it
If you've ever wanted to learn more about apple varieties, but were worried a book about apples might be boring - look no further! This book is delightful. The author's passionate love (and passionate hatred) for different varieties is very amusing. I'd have to disagree with his disdain for the Honey Crisp, but what do I know. I don't know much about apples, I just know what I like. ...more
John Brian Anderson
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cooking, how-to, gardening
Who knew? Learned so much about apples... history, cooking, eating, geography... The Hard Cider reemergence! Have about half a dozen prospects to add to the 4 apple varieties I have now, Northern Spy, Coxes Pippin, golden russet, Harrison... Wish I had more land. Got wind of this book from the Harvard Museum of Natural History's Glass Flower exhibit. ...more
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food, nonfiction
this was lovely. More of a reference compilation, makes me want to hunt these bizarre apples down! The recipes at the back sound really good. Will be copying those down before returning it to the library.
Oct 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fun reading about apples. Includes a historical introduction about apples in North America (U.S.) and describes in detail (flavor, parentage, visual characteristics, history, etc.) many different apple varieties.
Dec 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, misc
FANTASTIC. Beautiful book, with reviews of apples that read like record reviews (my wife's brilliant comment, there). Totally worth looking at if you like apples at all. REALLY cool book. Really into this. ...more
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
This is a delight. Delicious (and hilarious) descriptions of both uncommon and common varieties of apples. Rowan Jacobsen really has a way with words. And the recipes at the back are mouth-wateringly good.
Johanna Rupprecht
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, food
This book is fascinating and surprisingly entertaining. I learned lots about the history and diversity of apples. Gorgeous photos, too. It's probably intended more as a coffee table book for browsing, but I read it right through. ...more
Kylie Briggs
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cooking
If you need me I'll be looking for apple orchards to buy....
An excellent coffee table book
Major complaint: reading was noticeably slowed down by having to constantly stop to google whether or not a particular breed would grow where I live.
Bunny McFoo
I never in my life would have expected a book about apples to be one of the most engaging things I read all year, but well, there you go.

Excellent, highly recommended, made me want to start an apple orchard or possibly move to New England and do nothing but bake pies all day long.
Aug 25, 2014 marked it as to-read
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I will gladly provide when I've had the time to finish reading it and formulate my thoughts. Stay tuned! ...more
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Rowan Jacobsen is the James Beard Award-winning author of A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur’s Guide to Oyster Eating in North America, Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis, and The Living Shore, about our ancient connection to estuaries and their potential to heal the oceans. He has written for the New York Times, Newsweek, Harper’s, Outside, Eatin ...more

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