Our scout troop went and picked apples up in the local mountains last Saturday, where most of the apples are Rome Beauty. Rome was the most popular variety to plant because it comes into bearing early in its lifetime, bore reliable crops every year, fruits heavily, and the apple is versitle for fresh-eating, cooking, and cider (which is what ours are destined for). Its a very hard apple and only good for fresh-eating for a couple weeks after picking before it turns mealy, but will keep in the crisper bin for months and still makes killer pies and applesauce. Off the tree the taste is sweet, fresh and clean, but not a lot of character. Cooking it really brings out the spicy overtones and changes the nature, and it holds up well in pies and its ultimate use, apple crisp.
Speaking of which, my wife cooked some sauce last night and you can smell it from a block away- that heavenly spicy apple scent that reminds you of fall (which is needed around here when the days are still in the 80s). Once you’ve had the real applesauce like this the store-bought Mott’s stuff tastes like paste.
Rome Beauty also grows very well down in our hot valleys and is very productive. A few young trees I’ve planted at schools gave them a nice little crop this year. Pick them a little green down here for the best quality, and use it for cooking.