Every apple seed has the potential to become an exciting new cultivar. So many flavors, so many colors! The real challenge is keeping harvest complexity toned down to around a hundred varieties, he says with a smile.
Each variety gets picked 'tree-ripe' so you experience the full flavor of that apple. We spotlight several varieties each fall weekend to sample. Apple lore adds to the fun. Things really get going varietal-wise as the foliage peaks in early October.
Who's game to identify those seven varieties shown above?
We are not a pick-your-own orchard but rather make tree-ripened fruit available for sale when varieties come ready. You find out about the apple selection each week and other orchard news by signing up for our newsletter:
The more often you come out to the farm, the more varieties you'll get to know. Bakers will appreciate the culinary traits of different varieties for pies and crisps. Early-season apples run a tad tarter. Which variety is best with cheddar cheese? For applesauce? For drying? Late-season apples make the best keepers. Aromatic varieties will remind you of other fruits. Red-fleshed types will change your perspective entirely. Crab-size apples pack surprising flavors while gigantic pie apples could literally bowl over small children.
What delight to be found in apples!
Pristine kicks off our harvest season, along with purplish-red William's Pride and 'anything but' Redfree. Duchess of Oldenburg establishes exacting first standards for really good apple pie. Thin-skinned Red Gravenstein with its snap and tang is a wowser. We're just as excited about Zestar for its early season crunch and delightful lemony zest.
All-purpose Wealthy hints of strawberry when fully ripe. Look to Akane for sprightly perfection. St. Edmund's Russet could teach pears a thing or two about flavor. Lost Nation Macs straddle the sweet/tart divide, followed by crisp Cortland in early October. Macoun fans will be intrigued by the denser flavor of this variety when grown organically. We consider tree-ripened Spartan to be a late season jewel.
Sweet Sixteen will get you thinking about cherry lollipops. The all-star from the Minnesota breeding program has to be Honeycrisp, described as being 'explosively crisp' for good reason. We love Fireside for its orange glow and respectable keeping ability. SnowSweet has proven worth the wait.
People go bonkers for our very own Bonkers, a disease-resistant variety originally designated NY 35. Liberty and GoldRush round out this grower's preference category. Pink Pearl surprises with bright pink flesh and tang . . . interest in such red-fleshed varieties has us looking for more. Our newest release will be rightfully known as Red Delirious.
Honeygold transcends what it means to be mellow, Spencer brings a red glamour to these affairs, while Shizuka throws a bronze caramel curveball into the golden lineage. Our numerous heirlooms include Ashmead's Kernel, Belle de Boskoop, Rhode Island Greening, and Black Oxford. Lastly, did you know Calville Blanc has more vitamin C than any orange?
Making a living at holistic orcharding keys to producing a modest 400 bushels of fruit per acre annually, a select 70% of which can be sold as dessert-grade fruit at no less than $2 a pound. The rest of the crop finds value as cider, utility fruit, or mail-order products. Many hours go into all this and costs add up quickly. Grossing $25,000 per acre makes a community orchard economically-viable.
People who enjoy fresh, local apples need to take these regenerative farm goals to heart. Paying $2 to $3 a pound for select organic apples is a healthy bargain. That's the price range which we sell our fruit here at the farm, depending on quantity. A half-bushel bag filled to the brim (single variety only) holding approximately 20 to 22 pounds costs $48. A quarter-peck bag holding approximately 2.5 pounds costs $7.50. You get the idea. Customers are welcome to mix any and all varieties in paper apple bags provided by the farm. And don't overlook that cider club members receive a dollar-based 10% discount on bagged apple prices in appreciation for investing in these efforts.
looking left to right:
Winter Blush (aka Fallawater)