Peaches are a summer fruit; apples are all about fall. Even Rob Stribling, a sixth generation farmer who owns the eponymous orchard, told me that apple time is his favorite of the year, because it’s cooler and things ramp up for a big harvest. He, too, associates apples with the months ahead.
So what’s up with these early apples? Turns out the Ginger Golds we picked are among the earliest to ripen here in Virginia. A light green apple with a crunchy texture that reminds me of an Asian pear, the Ginger Gold is great for eating as is. And because it’s slow to oxidize (unlike most other varieties), it won’t turn brown if you cut it ahead and add it to salads.
I’d read about this unusual trait, but as someone who’s written for newspapers and magazines for 20 years now, I know you can’t always believe everything you read. So I put it to the test when we had a good friend of my parents’ down from D.C. for dinner. She was bringing cookies from Hot Buns bakery for dessert, so to complement her baked goods I put together a fruit salad with our freshly picked peaches and apples, local raspberries from a farm down the way, plus strawberries and watermelon. The peaches I spritzed with lemon juice to retard browning, but the apples I left alone. They sat there on the plate for a good two hours until we were ready for them. And, just as promised, the apples were as crisp and white as the moment they’d been cut.
As for the fruit salad itself, I call it Not Your Mother’s Fruit Salad, but it might as well be Not Your Standard Fruit Salad or Not Your Potluck Fruit Salad or Definitely Not That Canned Thing, which always tastes like the oranges somebody mixed in to make it stretch. No, this fruit salad is served with each fruit in its own space so the assertive flavors don’t overwhelm the milder ones. Sometimes, space is a good thing. Which is why minivans and children go together better than kids and that economy sedan we rented last month.