Ranger (and the wife) and I, know the locations of at least sixty-three wild asparagus patches (Stalking the Feral Asparagus) five raspberry patches, eleven elderberry patches, two blackberry patches, three major yielding wild grape vine communities, four trails on which we can harvest morels, two locations for shaggy manes, five spots where we’ll find giant puffballs, and there were those hazelnuts we found down that no exit road.
With all the knowledge of unique foragables’ locations, it never occurred to me to consider the common, trustworthy, omnipresent wild apple. So Ranger and I spent a day running a grid pattern on the backroads (like when we found all those asparagus sites). We logged and collected samples from 10 different trees. We got a load of paper lunchbags, collected a few apples from each tree we encountered, and wrote a descriptive location on the bag.
Later, the wife and I setup a comparitive taste test just like we used to do for a living many years ago. I cleaned and polished the apples and set them up on the kitchen counter in front of their respective bags.
We recorded the size, texture, color, sweet/sour balance, resistance to insect infestation, and flavour characteristics/intensity to determine which trees to visit next Fall. We found remarkable variations between the samples in every catagory. A few were so sour I had difficulty in assessing a descriptive flavour. There were three sweet ones though. One in particular came as a shock due to its sweetness. I don’t think I’ve tasted a domestic as sweet as that one.
Size and color didn’t provide any clues either. Some of the sweetest ones were half the size of a domestic apple and bright green. So, it would appear you can’t judge an apple by its color, any more than you can judge a book by its cover.