Hosting an Apple Tasting Party

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I recently hosted a “Great Apple Tasting Experiment”, where some friends and I blind tasted 27 different apple cultivars.

Luckily I live near Berkely Bowl, and incredible grocery story with even more than this number of unique apples. Special thanks to the cashier who checked us out.

Here is the list were were able to buy in this November of 2023:

  • Juici
  • Braeburn
  • Rave
  • Ambrosia
  • Beni Shogun Fugi
  • Red Delicious
  • Smitten
  • Granny Smith
  • Ambrosia
  • Pink Lady
  • Jazz
  • Opal
  • Autumn Glory
  • Gala
  • Lady
  • Golden Delicious
  • Sweetango
  • Lady Alice Apple
  • Jonagold
  • Gold Rush
  • Hunnyz
  • Envy
  • Rome Beauty
  • Organic Sweetie
  • Honey Crisp
  • Sugarbee
  • Crimson Gold

We all tried and rated each of these apples, without knowing their name. It was super fun experiment, and I’ll share in this post exactly how we did it and how you can host your own apple tasting party.

Rating Apples

Brian Frange’s provide a pretty good framework for rating apples.

In the end, for us less serious apple tasters, I chose a simplified review system:

  • Taste (overall flavor of the apple. 5=delicious, 1=bland)
  • Flesh (1=Insides are soft, 5=Snappy texture)
  • Sweetness (1=Not sweet, 5=Very sweet)
  • Tartness (1=Not tart, 5=Very tart)
  • Intensity (Overall how pronounced the taste is. 1=subtle, 5=robust)
  • Your Personal Grade (100=Personal fave, 0=No thanks)

Really, the most important part is your personal grade. Your mission is to learn what your new favorite type of apple is.

One nice feature of using a rating system like this is that you can compare it directly to Frange’s as a kind of loose subjective benchmark. More on that in the How To section later.

My Personal Top Apples

It isn’t that important to me to have a personal rank of every apple. What is important to me is to know which apple is my favorite to eat!

Thanks to the fact that this experiment was blind, I can confidently say that I picked my favorite apples based on taste alone:

These apples, to me, are delicious. Don’t believe, your past experience, or what your friends say. The only way to be totally sure of what your favorite apple is, is to not know its name until after you eat it.

How To Host Your Own Apple Party

So you want to run your own apple experiment? Here are some steps:

  1. Make sure there is a grocery story with a large set of apples, scope it out
  2. Set a date, invite your friends
  3. The day before, buy one of each apple, apologize to the cashier

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  1. Have a volunteer be the non-blind scientist, make a mapping with a fake code name (or just a number) -> real apple name in a randomized fashion
  2. Print out a rubric to fill out. You are welcome to use mine (Google Doc). You are also welcome to print out a reference chart of the list.

On the day of:

  1. The volunteer should cut the apples on plates with the code name / number just in time.

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  1. Serve the apples to the guests in batches. I recommend batches like this:
  • 5 of the most popular apples (serves as an anchor reference to a known quantity)
  • 5 less common apples
  • 5 esoteric apples
  • And so on
  1. After serving each small group, reveal the real names of the apples, and optionally the reference ranking, just for comparison.

At the end of your experiment, each guest will have a full rubric with their notes on which was their favorite apple. And probably a lot of apple leftovers.

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