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Misunderstood Malus

August 1, 2013

Nothing says summer on a resilient farmstead like an heirloom Yellow Transparent apple tree.  The first apple of the season and a reliable bearer due to its late bloom date, even in the rainy Cascade foothills.

Yellow Transparent

Malus domestica, Yellow Transparent

Despite being a prolific and reliable bearer of fruit each and every year, Transparents usually get a bum rap from newbies to the home preserving and homesteading arena.  Our store-bought, on-demand, shelf life loving, perfection consumer culture isn’t use to nuances in food unless you start talking heirloom tomatoes.  Nope, by gum we got to eat us some Fuji apples, large and cloyingly sweet and attractive, and from the store… .  Cook an apple are you kidding me?  Can it for later?  Get a life woman!  Chained to a stove making applesauce in the dead of summer?  RUSHTNME?

A windfall is a windfall whether you take the term to mean actual fruit on the ground because of wind, or an abundance of perfectly good fruit that comes at the time of year when you are craving fresh apples.  Like tomatoes, apple varieties come with a set of varied uses, and if you’re hungry for pie even an apple not deemed worthy of pie tastes pretty darn good when it is fresh.

Poor old Transparent, it’s not your fault that people watch and wait for you to get ripe and then take a bite and realize that they missed the short window of opportunity of your greatness.  (Like a June strawberry in Oregon, you better get them while they’re good.)  Just barely a yellow tinge and you’re tart and juicy, and perfect for applesauce.  The kind of applesauce that takes you back to summer immediately when the jar is first opened come winter, mmmm.  But pity the fool who waits for you to get all yellow and mealy, because then you are a sweet mess of an apple.  But I don’t malign you for that, I just get you while the getting is good.  Hear that?  I get you 😉  Not to be saucy, but I am going to add you to cake today.

To that end, new orchard planners, don’t be afraid to add a Yellow Transparent tree to your mix of trees, it may be all that you get to eat in the way of apples some years, and for that fact alone this tree is worth planting.


Cake ingredients:
5 Tablespoons butter
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cinnamon
1 cup homemade sour cream, or ¾ cup whole milk
2 cups fruit (blueberries, diced apples, prunes, or apricots)

Topping ingredients:
6 Tablespoons butter
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup flour

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease 9 x 13 baking pan.
In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients and set aside.  For cake:  Measure dry ingredients into sifter and set aside.  Cream butter and sugar until combined, add egg and vanilla and mix.  Add flour mixture and sour cream/milk alternately until fully incorporated.  Do not overbeat.  Stir in fruit until evenly distributed.  Bake cake for 40 – 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Sprinkle with additional sugar if desired.

Notes:  Commercial sour cream is much thicker than actual soured cream, so I don’t recommend using it in this recipe.  But I understand not everyone has a cow, and cream souring in their fridge,  A good substitute for when your cow is dry, or if you need sour milk/cream you can use lemon juice or vinegar.  One Tablespoon vinegar to one cup milk, let stand for 5 minutes before adding to your ingredients.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2013 10:40 am

    OK. I admit it. I overlooked yellow transparent. I just planted a variety of trees with similar bloom dates and varied ripening dates in a protected location.

    So, yes…you’re talking to me. Again.

    Applesauce is no big deal. Apple butter…now that’s art.

    • August 1, 2013 11:21 am

      Mmm, I’m thinking applesauce and pork roast 🙂 Apple butter is good, but I would have to have toast to put it on, and then I would have to bake bread, oh yeah, and get a toaster :p

  2. August 1, 2013 11:35 am

    I’ve just discovered flavor nuances in eggplant!
    I’m saving this post for when I can plant trees.

  3. August 1, 2013 12:09 pm

    Ha! This is funny; I’m so glad you wrote it. Because, my folks have a Yellow Transparent tree, which, year, after year after decade, has dropped all its fruit on the ground to waste. I never bothered with it, because my mom assured me, it was not worth it, no good apple, she said. Until this year, when a friend said, no, they’re good, and so we picked some, and took them home, and they had great flavor! Only took a few home; made some fruit leather with them (friend was much smarter, and went off with a bucketful). Now I’m kicking myself for all the years of waste. That’s what I get for not checking into matters for myself. Next year, by golly; I am collecting those apples!!
    Unrelated; awhile back, you wrote about sugar content of grass changing with the time of day/ sun exposure, and I wondered whether something similar happens with fruits, vegetables or root crops?

    • August 1, 2013 1:24 pm

      NM, hind is awful isn’t it? I hate that feeling 😦

      You know I have wondered about that myself, since we always harvested our salad mix for sale in the wee hours of the morning as we were cautioned to do, yet when I go out and harvest lettuce for salad at the crack of the hottest part of the day it is always sweet and crunchy and it just makes sense. Plants are plants, so I think that makes perfect sense.

  4. August 1, 2013 12:19 pm

    A friend gave me a couple of her transparents last Saturday. A bit tart, but definitely edible. My favorites here in the Coquille Valley are the Gravensteins the early settlers planted all over the place. We had three ancients on the old place…. loved them apples! Just the right touch of tart and CRISP off the tree. Hubby loved them pan friend in a bit of sugar. (I don’t do pastry). The skins would literally melt… 😉

  5. August 1, 2013 12:34 pm

    I sorely miss my yellow transparent we inherited as the only tree on a small farm we bought years ago. Not knowing the value of it as you stated for the early taste of apple (especially here in the northeast) I came home one day to find one of our sons who helped with the haying had eliminated the tree in the hay field!

    A new (old) payloader had helped him, even taking out the root ball, leaving a deep hole for several years. I was very disappointed and raged for some time, eventually forgiving him! But miss it to this day, you are lucky with yours, let all know it’s value! Johanne

  6. A.A. permalink
    August 1, 2013 12:51 pm

    Sweet 🙂

    PS. Remember to send out a herald to deliver a copy to the apple trees, if you didn’t already 😉

  7. August 1, 2013 12:51 pm

    Good post! I wasnt familiar with teansparents until recently – they are very common where i live now, and mostly seem to fall all over the ground without being picked up. My kids love applesauce and i love to can, so transparents are for me!

  8. August 1, 2013 5:23 pm

    Oh, you make me miss the apples trees where I grew up! On land = that once had an apple orchard of some sort, in central New York. They were Baldwin apples I believe, and I still cannot enjoy a supermarket apple after those delicious ones we could pick up in the backyard. Once or twice I’ve seen that variety at a farmer’s market, but it’s hard to beat one fresh from your backyard. Well, and the applesauce was lovely too.

  9. August 1, 2013 5:33 pm

    I am so glad to hear about the Yellow Transparents. We live in Alabama and about 2 years in 3, the apples bloom out and then a late frost kills them. I have searched for late blooming apple trees, but they usually tell us when they get ripe, not when they bloom. Now you have told me…Transparents are late blooming. Good! That is what I will plant this fall and hope it is late blooming in Alabama too. Do you know any other late blooming apples? Thanks so much. I love your emails! Even though I can’t do all you do…being 78 years old..I still grow lots of our food for our extended family. I pass a lot of your advice on to my children and grandchildren and I am learning from you regularly. Thank you! Sarah Corson

  10. Jennifer permalink
    August 30, 2013 6:03 pm

    I’ve now made the crumb cake recipe four times! We love it. I’ve made it with blueberries, apples and cranberries (twice–my fav.) and then a blueberry/cranberry combo. So good, I’ve even eaten it for breakfast with coffee. A real gem, thanks for sharing.

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