The Fameuse apple, also called Snow, is one of the oldest North American varieties. Historians have speculated that the apple may have originated in France, although evidence suggests that it is more likely to have originated in French Canada sometime before 1700. By the 1700’s it was widespread in the Champlain Valley of Vermont, and it may have made its way to Maine via that route. Old trees can still be found in Maine dooryards and orchards. Fameuse resembles McIntosh in many respects, and it is possible that Fameuse may be one of “Mac’s” parents. (McIntosh originated in Ontario in about 1800.) Like McIntosh, Fameuse is very susceptible to the disease, “scab”, a cosmetic blemish that can be removed by peeling and does not affect flavor.
The apple’s other name – Snow- comes from its “snow white” flesh. It is really, really white. The 1865 Department of Agriculture yearbook summed it up: “Flesh-remarkably white, tender, juicy...deliciously pleasant, with a slight perfume... No orchard in the north can be counted as complete without this variety... It is just so good that everybody likes to eat of it; and when cooked, it is white, puffy and delicious.”
Recently we heard another explanation of the name Snow: that the apples rot and “melt” into the ground shortly after dropping.
We recommend Fameuse for fresh eating and also for sauce and cider. Here’s an 1889 recipe for something called Apple Snow that might be perfect to prepare using these apples: Pare and core tart, juicy apples; stew with just enough water to keep from burning; sweeten with white sugar; flavor with lemon, the juice is better than the extract; sift through a potato masher or beat it until light; eat with whipped cream.
This apple keeps until late December although we suggest eating it when it is picked for the best texture.