Uh oh, a New Addiction, Heritage Apples!

sunnibel7 Md 7(7)October 3, 2012

Oh lordy. I spent a little money on a sampler of heritage apples from Tree-mendus Fruit because I want to add a couple of trees to our property and I don't want anymore Fuji or Gala. The sampler seemed like a good way to help figure out which ones might be to our tastes and Gary was very helpful talking to me about picking out ones that might fare well down here without too much trouble. That was Monday.

Today they've arrived, and I opened the box. I ate one. Oh, yeah. That is more like I remember from walking through the wild orchards where I grew up. But now I want to try them all! And then the problem is that I only got 10 types... But he has 190 others at least! I told my family after I ordered about it and my Mom fondly remembered an apple from her parents' trees that she loved, Snow Apple, and my Dad reminded me of the Maiden Blush apples we used to make a special 3 mile hike through the woods to go pick for pies. And then my brother, who had just gone to the Geneva Experiment Station, told me how much he really liked the Esopus Spittzenburg... None of those are in my sampler. Do I need to order another one? Oh, maybe, yes... Maybe. Yes. Oh, this could get exspensive!

Anyway, if you're curious, I did get Chesnut Crab (I requested that one after reading many good comments on it here), Calville Blanc d'Hiver (I requested that because of its description), Black Gilliflower (another one remembered from the wild orchards), Dr. Matthews, Blenheim Orange, Pink Pearl, Baldwin, Arkansas Black, Belle de Boskoop, and Cherry Cox. Woohoo, can't wait to get my husband here to sample with me!

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Leave Arkansas Black alone for a while. One month on the counter or two in the garage. It is a fine apple, but close to inedible right now.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 12:10PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Thanks, Glib! It did come with a note to do just that. I'm trying to figure out where I can store it that I won't forget it in a month or two. Husband is almost here, time to have taste test number 2!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 1:31PM
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Please let me know how you like Blenheim orange. I only saw it once can did not get to taste it. The skin was rough like
sandpaper and extremely russeted. I am curious on how they

I have not grown Arkansas Black, but I have grown an offshoot of it- 'King David'. Mighty hard to find them these days unless people graft their own. Super dark skin
color and great flavor, a bit on the tart side.

So many great older apple varieties to possibly grow. I feel your pain as it is quite addictive. I now have 20 fruit trees at my last count and still want more. Time constraints have forced me to stop expanding the orchard but I still can dream.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 11:37AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Blenheim Orange is a very good apple. It is more a cooker than an eater but it also is good eating. It has a very rich flavor cooked. Unfortunately it has late-hanging blooms which makes it susceptible to fireblight in my climate. If I have the time I should just strip off these late blooms, they are too late to produce large apples.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 12:35PM
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alan haigh

Where were the samples grown? Was it near you?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 4:37PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

No, in Michigan. We talked about environmental differences, and agreed we both have high humidity in common. Otherwise I asked for samples from trees that were easier to maintain (chemicals), in his experience, and then for use as cooking/eating apples and so ended up with a mix of samples. I'm just beginning my research, I figured stirring up a discussion with you guys would be the next step :) But first I wanted to have some apple experience I could actually base a discussion on. It's hard starting something new.

So far I've tried 6 of the varieties for eating, which is narrowing it down to three of those that would be suitable for cooking also. So far I like qualities of all of them, but none has quite hit the spot of "perfect eating apple". Which is OK. They all have great and diverse flavors. Actually it seems that if great power comes with great responsibility, then great flavor comes with great acidity. My teeth felt really clean after eating some of them.

So far for eating, Chesnut is very nice, a bit simple in flavor. Baldwin was tasty but a bit acid; wouldn't want to eat more than one at a time. Belle de Boskoop had an excellent, complex flavor with hints of tropical fruit but also was extremely acid... Tops on the list for trying cooked. Cherry Cox had a very nice, light flavor, also fruity but distinctly different than B de B, pretty acidic too. Black Gilliflower had a nice, sort of floral flavor but is a little on the insipid side of acid for my taste (I must be aging, that's one from my childhood). And I just tried the Blenheim Orange. That one has the right balance of sweet and tart for eating, a nice simple flavor sort of like Chestnut Crab, but the texture leaves a bit to be desired. It is medium grained but tending towards mealy, which I hate. I don't know when it was picked, though.

And those are my impressions so far. It's getting hard to remember how the first couple tasted. Still have 4 to go! My Mom and Dad are both excitedly reminiscing about some of the apples that I don't have samples of... They are coming for Thanksgiving and bringing a heritage bird, so maybe I'll surprise them with some apples that they remember...

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 10:35AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Okay, now I have also tried Pink Pearl and Dr. Matthews. Both had a really good balance of sweet and tart for eating. But for texture and flavor my husband and I both preferred Pink Pearl. They were nicely flavored (wish I could think of a better way to decribe them than "nice") and the texture wass good and the pink staining of the flesh was visually appealing. Dr. Matthews had a softer texture and the flavor was sort of like a sweeter, less intense Granny Smith. Not bad, just not our thing.

This leaves the Calville Blanc and Arkansas Black to taste. Have to wait on the AB. The CBdH is a dessert apple, does that translate to "tastes best cooked"? I guess I will find out.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 1:32PM
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I bought many varieties of apples over the weekend from a local guy. So far I have tasted magnum bonum, roxbury russet, grimes golden, and summer banana. These 4 are exceptionally flavored, especially grimes golden and summer banana. Summer banana has a banana note in its flavor and I would imagine would make excellent sauce. It is amazing how many different flavor profiles can be found in apples. Cinnamon spice is one I grow and it is very good fresh being very sweet with a cinnamon aftertaste.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 2:38PM
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alan haigh

An apple I like for both eating and cooking, and if you like intense flavor, you should too, is Ashmead's Kernel. It is also highly disease resistant and not the first choice of squirrels. It's my favorite heirloom of the many I've tried and usually scores very high in taste tests. Rated best of the best by the London Horticultural Society.

Calville Blanc is supposedly the classic traditional cooking apple in France, although apparently not so much these days (they seem to be a bit behind in the heirloom apple fad). It has much more vitamin C than any other apple I've seen tested- almost double 2nd place and quadruple Red Delicious and Macintosh.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 2:59PM
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You might want to consider going to a local apple harvest festival for tasting. Sometimes farmer's markets are also a great source for buying heirloom and rare apples. It makes for a great excuse to drive out into the countryside.

On the other hand, if you think you have an addiction now... (;-D)

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 7:04PM
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You really inspired me to call Tree Mendus fruit over the weekend.
I spoke with one of the owners (I think his name is Gary or Greg).
I am also a hobby orchardist always looking for new varieties to grow.

After speaking with the owner for a while he is making me a nice sampler box to try. I told him the apples I already have and have already tried and told him my tastes.
Order should be here tomorrow.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tree Mendus Fruit Farm

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 9:01PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Calville Blanc d'Hiver is a wonderful cooking apple and was part of my girlfriend's only "10" pie of last season.

Well worth the trouble for cooking/baking alone.
Champagne and Vanilla notes to it, slight sweet/tart.
Odd shaped, mostly light green with a red flush.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 9:25PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Ok, now I cooked one of the Calville Blanc, and it sure is good. But I didn't try it raw. Certainly tart, and a robust flavor. Tomorrow I will do the Belle de Boskoop. Good idea about going locally, though for me most apples are grown almost 2 hours away. Some big sprawl from the nation's capital or something is between me and that area. The local farms here grow basic apples I can buy at the store, at least that is what I have found in the local farm catalog put out by the 3-4 counties around me.

I'll have to check out the Ashmead's Kernel somehow. And I like the sound of Cinnamon Spice. I was intrigued by one called Clovis Spice, I wonder if they are related. Certainly from just the 10 I tried there are a couple I would like to have in my yard.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 9:41PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Sunnibel, you are probably an hour or less from Distillery Lane Ciderworks, it is near Frederick. They have a couple dozen heritage apple varieties. Their Golden Russets are coming in now and are excellent.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 10:23PM
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alan haigh

Scott, do you find Golden Russet to be a major stink-bug magnet? Here bugs and wasps make Golden Russet a challenge.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 7:06AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

My Golden Russet has not fruited yet. I am sure wasps will be all over it once it fruits, my GoldRush not far away has had a ton of wasps on it. Fortunately the cold weather has slowed them down recently.

Speaking of the joys of cold weather, I am getting more focused on later apples for my climate. The apples I am harvesting now are less bug- and disease-riddled than the earlier ones since they were hard and green during the peak bug-fest. Newtown Pippin, GoldRush, Myers Royal Limbertwig, Winesap, Rambour d'Hiver, Abbondanza, Chestnut and Wickson Crab are all coming in now and are looking a few notches better than the last months crop. Another big plus of late apples is the squirrels have moved on to nuts so I am not losing any apples to squirrels now. Lastly they are all great keepers so having mostly late apples is not just fall apples, its apples until March. So, bringing this back to the topic of this thread, make sure you get enough late apples in your Maryland orchard. Besides the ones I named above the Pomme Gris was late enough to avoid the bugs (it gets little damage anyway, being a hard russet), theres Golden Russet of course, and Pink Lady is still hanging. Plus many others I am not growing.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 8:42AM
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alan haigh

You are so lucky to have an acorn crop. Here in southeastern NY it is a second year of very little crop- I've never seen consecutive years of mast crop failure before.

The squirrels are desperately seeking any food they can find and it is going to be a very hungry winter for all forest vegans. Survivors will presumably be ready to strip anything as soon as it forms next spring.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 9:17AM
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A 2 inches rain event in early August produced a bumper acorn crop here in SE MI, despite the incredible drought that preceded it. But I wonder if, in lean years, it is not worth dumping corn on the property, until the apples ripen.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 9:52AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Scott, I am working my way up to picking your brain about your experience with apples in our fair state, though I suspect you are up in the N, NW part based on your zone description. I'm down in Southern Maryland where it is a touch warmer. Anyhow, Distillery Lane looks cool, but they are indeed a 2-hr drive from me. If I could get my husband psyched up to go, it would be fun, but he takes about 1 day off every other week (he owns a restaurant), and he tends to sleep kind of late (closes at 2 am). There's an area up that waywith lots of organic farms and heritage everything and a number of places we would like to visit.

And back to apples again, I guess I was hoping for some earlier eating ones plus some later eating ones and some storage/cooking ones on my land eventually. I ordered this sampler so that I would not only have some names to go with tastes, but so that I would be able to say "I liked that one" beyond "I like Fuji and Gala". That's like saying "I like vanilla"... Everyone does! I read Scott's list on his member page with great interest, but of course I haven't tried 99% of those! And we are back to the addiction part of the thread... :)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:53AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Sunnibel, I had incorrectly assumed you were where 90% of the people in the state live, in the DC/Baltimore corridor. I am in Baltimore. If you like doing outdoor activities there is a lot to do in western Maryland and its worth a 2-hour drive if you make it a whole day.

Re: varieties, if you are not putting in many trees then my main advice is to make sure you are growing varieties that are suited to the mid-Atlantic. I have discarded at least 50 apple varieties which were not working out in spite of their great descriptions. Once you have narrowed down the choices you can post your list here to get feedback. I recently started writing down my overall favorites, here is the current list:

  1. Freyburg
  2. Gold Rush
  3. Kidds Orange Red
  4. Wickson Crab (but, cracks every other year)
  5. Nonpareil
  6. Rubinette
  7. Bonne Hotture
  8. Abbondanza
  9. Chestnut Crab
  10. Golden Russet (American)
  11. Hawaii
  12. Swayzie
  13. Newtown Pippin
  14. Pomme Gris
  15. Reine des Reinettes
  16. Ashmead's Kernel
  17. Mother
  18. Rusty Coat
  19. White Winter Pearmain
  20. Golden Nugget
  21. Akane (but is highly bug-prone)
  22. Maigold
  23. Ribston Pippin
  24. Myers Royal Limbertwig
  25. Pink Lady

I am a big fan of russets and big-tasting apples so my favorites are skewed in that direction. The Golden Russet and Ashmeads Kernel have not fruited in my orchard but I have heard enough good things from local growers on them. A few of these guys have only fruited a couple times for me, most I have several years experience with.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 12:38PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

sunnibel7, This addiction thing is no small matter. I had tried to buy apples from Tree-mendus back in 2008 but it took forever to get a catalog and then once I did it didn't have what was currently available or prices. I gave up and just bought the trees.

I'm still buying trees. Is there a rehab facility for gardening addicts? I would really like to know what is wrong with me!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 2:38PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Hmmm, well so far I have my husband to balance me out, but he really likes apples too... Might be time to form that 12-step program. Anyhow, I do like outdoor activites, will have to make a point of it to get up that way sometime! I really appreciate the offer for feedback once I come up with some contenders. Having grown up in upstate NY and had to relearn gardening down here, I have a strong awareness about needing to know what should do well here.

So far, of the 9 I tried, we really like the Chestnut Crab (on the maryland list, yea) and Pink Pearl for eating, and Belle de Boskoop and Calville Blanc for cooking. I like apples with complex flavors, maybe that is the same as big-tasting? Our language for describing taste is so inadequate! I tried a Honeycrisp last night and didn't like it-great texture and juiciness, but ugh, tasted like bottled apple juice. Whatever that part of the apple flavor profile that is, I don't like it! It's okay as a background flavor, but not as the up front taste... I'll keep on trying every apple I meet, though. :)

Oh, and I think our 12-step program should be the 12 steps of teaching others how to be just as addicted as we are! How can doing something that connects us deeply with the world we live in possibly be bad for us? Though it might be as bad for the wallet as certain other habits, in the short run...

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 8:09PM
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If you are going to order more apples to taste, may I recommend Ashmead's Kernel? It has become my favorite apple, juicy, sweet, and rich. Some people prefer it stored a month or two, but I like it best right off the tree.

A surprise to me was how well I like the relatively modern apple Empire (1966), described by Trees of Antiquity where I bought my trees as "an improved Macintosh". I disagree. It may resemble Macintosh in appearance, but the flavor is very unlike it, snappy with a nice sweet-and-sharp complexity. I find Macintosh sweet but bland. Not so Empire.

I have limited myself to 7 apple trees. We grow plums, pluots, apricots, grapes, mulberries, pomegranates, persimmons, blueberries, oranges, kumquats, lemons, figs, and loquats. The loquat tree came with the property and I find the fruit rather bland, but the dog likes to eat them. Anyway, we've rather overdone it so I have held back on indulging further whims when it comes to apples.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 8:38PM
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Just got my sampler in the mail today. My wife and I had a little sampling party together. We got started with a honeycrisp from the fridge just to get our bearings. We tried 3 apples from tree mendus.
1. Cherry Cox. I didn't find this one very interesting. Not nearly as complex as other cox types I have had like rubinette or regular cox. One dimensional flavor, a little mealy. Nice balance though.
2. Calville Blanc. This one was very interesting. Complex but subtle flavor. Firm texture. Not juicy at all, almost like dried apples. I think this one will really come into it's own when baked into a pie or tart. I think if I had enough of them to make into a pie I probably wouldn't need to add any thickeners like flour.
3. Hudson Golden Gem. We really thought this one was interesting. Very thin russeted skin. Flavor very pear like. Complex blend of pear, bananas, tropics. Really juicy and nice melting soft texture but not mealy.
4. Belle De Boskoop. We liked this one although it was on the tart side. Very acidic. Really crisp. Somewhat simple flavor, or maybe just flavor masked by too much tartness. This one might be better after a few weeks of storage or maybe even a few months.

We'll try a few more tomorrow.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:40PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Well I thought about this rehab idea and then I realized that if they put me in a facility they would have to lock me up, otherwise I would sneak out and do the gardening on the facility. Ugh!

I got my first Rubinette and HoneyCrisp this year. They were both really wonderful. I have a single Calville Blanc still hanging on the tree. I'm not sure if I should store it for a while or try to bake with it. I also had few Harry Master's Jersey but I didn't find them at all interesting. I suppose these needed to mellow for a while also. They were just a tiny bit astringent but didn't have much flavor.

My most huge disappointment is with my Elephant Heart plum. Not that it was bad, but that I still have about 5 hanging on the tree and it's already snowed here. I did get one that was out of this world, but the branch had been broken by raccoons and the plum had dried on the branch. The rest are still not ripe yet. I am really disheartened about this.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 11:57PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Definitely try cooking the Belle de Boskoop and the Calville Blanc, I think you'll be happy you did! The BdB was the apple that left my teeth feeling real clean when I ate it raw, but cooked it was a treat! Not having enou to make an apple pie, I just cod them and baked them in individual pans with a little butter, honey and spices in the hollow and some honey on the outside. Score them around the outside so they don't explode!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 10:12AM
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Mile High Girl, how about picking those plums, since they are clearly not going to get a chance to ripen on the tree? Then put them in a paper bag with a ripe apple. The ripe apple should be giving off ethylene gas, and that should ripen the plums. Now I have never actually done this myself, but I have heard of it. I wouldn't select it over tree-ripening, but if you aren't going to have a chance to ripen on the tree, then this might be a reasonable second-best.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 1:31PM
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