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One of our favorite adventurous apples in the orchard is the Hudson's Golden Gem. It is a precocious apple with very low chill requirements, disease resistant, and always met with a genuine surprise when folks slip a slice into their mouth for the first time. The second expression is often one of bewilderment. Why isn't an apple this delicious on every store shelf? I suspect the evocative reaction the Golden Gem creates comes from the assertive nature of the apple which suggests it'll have its critics. The exterior skin is russetted, and often this patchy brown appearance on the skin of the fruit is the final blow. A fruit's aesthetic is still paramount when displayed on the supermarket shelf and this means beautiful, bland apples will always garner more attention than less attractive apples with exquisite flavor. That said, the name of a fruit is also one critical component to entering the market place.
There are many examples of wonderful apples we'll stumble across in orchards that remain unavailable. Often the the names or varieties are trademarked or patented. I understand and appreciate the creative names such as Honeycrisp, which sells itself, and the enormous labor involved in bringing a variety to market. Most of our heirlooms were not tested in advance by marketing teams or trialed endlessly in Universities. An heirloom apple name often evoke a sense of time and place which I prefer. The Api Etoile, Ashmeads Kernel, Cox Orange Pippin, Myers Royal Limbertwig, Smokehouse, Northern Spy, Spitzenburg, etc. to name a few. It's with this that I return to Hudsons Golden Gem and its origin story. It's simple and sweet and that's the point.
A few years ago, an old stamp collector stumbled upon this letter from the Hudson's Nursery in early February 1931. I was taken by the generosity and passion of Mr. Hudson's letter to an orchardist up in Wisconsin. There is no concern for possession or profit. Granted, if Hudson's Golden Gem caught the markets attention, a legacy could be the reward for Mr. Hudson's discovery. I suspect that wasn't his intent, I think he genuinely wanted folks to simply discover, as I have, the spectacular flavor that is the Hudson's Golden Gem.