Arkansas Black Apples

Scotty Bakema, Student Interest and Entertainment

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Arkansas Black is one of those apples that apparently holds no middle ground among apple fanciers; they either love it or hate it… Period. For those who despise the apple, I prefer to think it’s just a case of misunderstanding. 

Arkansas Black is a fine apple with many exceptional merits that deserves more respect but, in order to properly enjoy the fruit one must exercise a bit of patience and give the apple a little extra time to become “all it can be.”

What are Black Apples?

Arkansas Black apples are vivid red to dark purple with a somewhat waxy skin. Its flesh is golden-hued and juicy with a fine-grained and crisp texture. Its highly aromatic and sweet-tart flavor mellows and becomes more palatable with storage.

Where are they grown?

Possibly raised by a settler named John Crawford in Arkansas, USA in the 1840s, and certainly widely grown in Arkansas and Missouri later that century.  It is thought to be a seedling of Winesap. This apple is notable for the extremely dark coloration, which becomes almost black after storage.

Info:

The apple is thought to have originated in the mid to late 1800s in Bentonville, Arkansas, possibly discovered and raised by a settler named John Crawford. It certainly gained greater popularity later that century and could be found growing throughout Arkansas and Missouri and surrounding states. 

Believed to be a seedling of Winesap, the apple has many qualities similar to its better-known parent, namely a tart, tangy flavor and the ability to stay firm, crisp and flavorful after many months in storage. In fact, the apple reaches its peak in flavor and texture after a long period in cold storage. 

When first picked in October the apple can be as hard as a rock and almost as flavorful! Trying to enjoy the apple at this stage will usually lead to disappointment. However, after an extended period of storage, the apple undergoes a dramatic change and becomes a rather fine dessert apple. 

The texture and taste:

The sharp tartness mellows significantly into a rich sweetness that will surprise the skeptic who might have expressed some disdain with a freshly-picked apple. The hard, dense texture improves greatly as well, becoming softer and more tender apple while still retaining a pleasing crispness.