Annual Fruit Tasting; Heirloom Apple Roundup

November 8, 2007

A recent article shared a lineup of unusual and uncommon fruits for the home gardener; today we’ll add a collection of rare heirloom apple varieties.

All of these interesting antique apples were on display and available for sampling at the Pennsylvania Backyard Fruit Growers annual fruit tasting that was held a couple weeks ago just outside of Lancaster, PA.

If you’re not familiar with heirloom apples you’ll be surprised to discover just how many different varieties of apples exist and can still be found growing in local orchards and backyard fruit gardens. Following is a partial listing of the heirloom apples being cultivated in Central Pennsylvania landscapes.

Smokehouse Antique AppleSuper-Sized Heirloom Apples – For those that like jumbo sized apples, there was a score of gigantic fruits, some that appeared capable of producing an entire pie from a single apple. Some of the names give away the fact that these are extremely large fruits. Yellow Bellflower stood out not only for its size but also its unusual shape.

  • Sweetheart
  • Pound
  • Mutsu (Crispin)
  • Smokehouse
  • Twenty Ounce
  • Yellow Bellflower

Winter Red Fleshed ApplesSmall Fruited Apple Varieties – Also represented were the smaller and crab apple type fruits. They may be a little more tedious to harvest but these apples offer their own advantages when it comes to versatility, unique flavors, and the uses that they can be put to. My favorite from this group was Cinnamon Spice; a very deliciously flavored apple.

  • Cherry Cox
  • Winter Red Flesh
  • Cinnamon Spice
  • Hidden Rose
  • Goof

Ashmead’s Kernel Heirloom AppleFamous and Historic Apples – There are a number of time-tested apples that have earned acclaim and fame for their unique characteristics. Their reputations are documented in historical accounts right along side the names of Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and others. If you’re into name dropping these varieties are guaranteed to impress the antique apple gourmet crowd.

  • Calville Blanc d’ Hiver
  • Esopus Spitzenberg
  • Newtown Pippen
  • Ashmead’s Kernel
  • Cox’s Orange Pippen
  • Roxbury Russet

Hoople’s Antique Gold AppleTasty Antique Apples – You’d be amazed by the range of different apple flavors, from tart to sweet and everything in between. While many of these apples wouldn’t make the grade in a beauty contest, they would likely triumph in any taste test against the “prettier” varieties found at the typical grocer. It’s difficult to single one out of this group as they are all just that good.

  • Swiss Gourmet
  • Virginia Beauty
  • Golden Gem
  • Freyburg
  • Belle de Baskoop
  • Pink Sugar
  • Hoople’s Antique Gold

Von Zuccalmaglio ReinetteOther Notable Heirloom Apple Varieties – My notes listed over eighty different heirloom apples from the PA Backyard Fruit Growers annual fruit tasting, and I’m sure there were many that I didn’t jot down. Here are a few more of the interesting antique apples that are being grown in local backyard gardens and orchards. Some of these names are just as intriguing as the apples themselves.

  • Reinette Simerenko
  • Razor’s Russet
  • Westfield Seek-No-Further
  • Paradise Sweet
  • Opalescant Beauty
  • Ribston Pippen
  • Von Zuccalmaglio Reinette

If you’re ready to expand your horizons beyond the same old Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji, and Golden Delicious apple varieties, then it may be time to seek out a local orchard in your area that can offer you an heirloom variety or two. Apple VarietyOr better yet, you can consider planting an antique apple tree of your own to preserve a bit of history and to treat your family to some incredibly tasty fruit.

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  • Thank you for sharing this wonderful knowledge, Kenneth! Just yesterday in the grocery store (in southern California), I saw crab apples for sale — not usual for our local markets. It brought back wonderful memories of our crab apple tree in our backyard as a child on Long Island, NY. No apple trees in our immediate area now, but I’ve taken trips to Julian (in the mountains near San Diego) many times in the fall to enjoy the apple picking (and pie eating!) there. I will be interested to see if I find any heierloom apple varietes you’ve mentioned the next time I’m there.

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  • Great list of apples, some I have never heard of.

  • Michele H.

    Wow Ken: What a beautiful web site! Hope to spend more time seeing what you’ve shared here…
    Am looking for a few nice heirloom apple trees. We are at the east edge of PA.
    Thanks, michele

  • Kenny Point

    Thanks Michele, if you are anywhere near Lancaster PA you might want to stop by White Oak Nursery as they offer a number of heirloom apple trees for sale, but they are Amish farmers and do not sell through the Internet. Also the Backyard Fruit Growers Organization is a great resource for anyone interested in raising heirloom apples or other rare fruits and you may be close enough to participate in the group. I also included a few good sources for antique apples on a previous post related to Locating Heirloom Apple Trees

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  • Connie

    I am trying desperately looking for crab apples for making jelly. The farmers I’ve used before have either cut down their trees or gone wholesale only. I’m in the PA/MD/VA areas. Know anywhere in those areas I can get some.

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