|Porter Apple. Source: USDA pomological. 1905.|
At this point, I have about all of the apple cultivars that I can keep track of. Most of my apple trees are now multigrafts with at least 5 varieties per tree, although a few are individual dwarf trees and a few are just beginning to experience my grafting obsession. I've learned a lot along the way. The apple growing goals are:
*Mostly disease resistant varieties.
*Mostly varieties that I can't buy at the grocery store.
*Ripening season from July until late October, with storage apples through most of the winter.
*Many varieties for cross pollination, usually within each multigraft tree.
*A chance to taste the same apple varieties that inspired people and gave pleasure for, sometimes, hundreds of years, at times when there were no grocery chains, import fruits, and minimal food additives. To savor living history. To connect my senses with those of actual and historic ancestors, by experiencing the rare pleasure of what they enjoyed.
*A chance to taste some unique flavors and varieties that are not available otherwise.
*To compare experiences with other gardeners and hobbyists.
*To experience tastes from my own garden and orchard, free from corporate homogenization and factory processing.
Some of the descriptions are really colorful. I doubt that my own taste buds are that sophisticated. But maybe - this year's apples gave unexpected and delightful surprises.
King David Apple - Fedco description, Orange-Pippin description. A cross between Jonathan and either Winesap or Arkansas Black. Intro 1893. Diploid, precicious, large apples, some disease resistance. From Fedco on flavors: "Pineapple, tangerine, lemon, sweet, sour, tart, sharp, aromatic and spicy all rush around simultaneously." From Apples of North America, King David is described as vigorous, and is a diploid, and disease resistant, so might be a good addition to the new Gravenstein tree. Gravenstein needs a pollinator because it is triploid, and needs a vigorous variety because it is also vigorous.
Sweet-16 Apple - Fedco description, Orange-Pippin description. Descended from Northern Spy crossed with Malinda, developed at University of Minnesota. 1979. Diploid. Per Fedco: " Fine-textured crisp flesh contains an astounding unusually complex combination of sweet, nutty and spicy flavors with slight anise essence, sometimes described as cherry, vanilla or even bourbon." From Apples of North America, Sweet-16 is resistant to apple scab, fireblight, and moderately resistant to other major apple diseases. Vigorous growing and late blooming. From Apples of Uncommon Character, "a misty explosion of melon and bubble gum, satisfyingly sweet, passingly tart" also described as flavors like bourbon or cherry life savers. Apples for the 21st Century, "flavor is very unique and sweet-tart cocktail of flavors."
Opalescent Apple. Fedco description, Orange-Pippin descriptipon. Per Fedco: 1899. " Crisp, sweet, tart, juicy—but most of all it’s supremely flavorful." From Apples of North America, Opalescent has a creamy yellow flesh, crisp, sweet flavor, vigorous, but does have susceptibility to fireblight. Good storage apple.
Apples of North America - by Tom Burford - describes 192 varieties, in addition to additional information about growing apples. Excellent reading about many apple varieties, especially historic apples.
Apples of Uncommon Character - by Rowan Jacobsen - describes 123 varieties, and recipes. Also excellent and sometimes poetic reading.
Apples for the 21st Century -by Warren Manhart - Reflects the author's 30 years of experience testing over 140 varieties, with 50 cultivars described in the book.