If the name of this apple conjures up images of beefy men, partially clad in camo gear, thrashing through the jungle with automatic weapons slung across their chests, one bite of a pie made with the real Summer Rambo will make you forget all that other nonsense. This Summer Rambo may not be a hit at the box office, but it has been a hit in the kitchen since it was found growing in the village of Rambure, in northern France about 1535. It ripens in late summer and kicks the pie season off to an early start.
The typical fruit is medium to large in size. It is somewhat flattened or oblate with prominent ribs (or are these rippling muscles?) around the blossom end. The skin is tough and smooth, (just what you would expect from a Rambo) and ranges from a clear, bright green to pale greenish yellow, perfect camouflage for most of the growing season. As it ripens, the green base becomes lightly washed and mottled with a lively, pinkish red. Fruits growing in sunlight will develop streaks of carmine throughout. Russet patches may occur in a star around the stem or on the sides of the apple. The brown/russet dots on the skin are not battle scars but lenticels characteristic of the variety.
The flesh of Summer Rambo varies from yellow to yellow-green. It is firm and dense and fairly juicy. When this apple is green, it takes some effort to bite into it, but it is at this moment, when the seeds are just beginning to turn brown, that is make a pie of some reknown. When it turns red, it is better for fresh eating and sauce. Try it with a slice of cheese. Tom Burford, who is to apples of the mid-Atlantic what John Bunker is to apples of Maine, rates it as one of the 20 best dessert apples.