An apple a day?

Well, not quite, but we’ve added to our budding orchard at Seven Trees. The more we try, the more we like.

“Why do we need so many kinds of apples? Because there are so many folks. A person has a right to gratify his legitimate taste. If he wants twenty or forty kinds of apples for his personal use…he should be accorded the privilege. There is merit in variety itself. It provides more contact with life, and leads away from uniformity and monotony.” — Liberty Hyde Bailey

We’re looking for apples with some disease resistance, that keep well, and taste interesting, preferably heirloom or antique varieties that have stood the test of time. Here are the apples we’ve been growing and the new additions for 2011.

Ashmead’s Kernal – An English variety that is dated back to the 1700’s. Just reading catalog descriptions while writing this blog post makes me want to run out to the garage to grab one to eat. So far these are my all time favorite apple, and we’ll be planting another of these trees soon. Here’s the description from Trees of Antiquity: Fruit explodes with champagne-sherbet juice infused with a lingering scent of orange blossom. Flesh is dense, sugary and aromatic with intense flavor, characteristic of russets.

Enterprise – A newer variety, developed in the 1980’s, that is tasty, disease resistant and precocious. Firm and crisp, with spicy aroma and mild tartness. Extremely resistant to apple scab, cedar apple rust and fire blight; moderate resistance to powdery mildew. Ripens mid-Oct. Also supposed to be a good keeper if refrigerated, but our small harvest won’t be around too long.

Red Gravenstein – We just bought our tree, but were lucky enough to pick a passel of these apples at a nearby farm, and hopefully they will taste the same. Cloud Mountain Farm (where ours came from) says: Ripens early September. Very popular, hard, coarse textured flesh, excellent eating and superb sauce apple. Earliest bloom. Triploid: needs pollinizer but will not pollinize other varieties. Even though these are considered ‘dessert’ apples, they make good cider too.
Kingston Black – A true cider apple, very tart & puckery eaten ‘raw’. This is known as a bitter-sharp apple in terms of acid/tannin balance for cider blending. We don’t have many this year, not enough to make a huge difference in our cider blend, but we’ll crush them in anyway.

Early McIntosh – This is one of our new trees from Cloud Mountain Farm. Here’s the description from their site: August ripening, crisp, juicy fruit with classic McIntosh flavor. White, tender flesh. Midseason bloom. It will be nice to have fresh apples as early as August.

William’s Pride – Another new-to-us tree from Cloud Mountain Farm (they had a 3-for-2 sale). Developed in the 1980’s, it’s got that modern disease-resistance thing going for it. This description from Maple Valley Orchards sounds pretty good too: Fruit is medium in size slightly conic in shape with a rich aromatic flavor. Apples are 70-80% red with excellent eating quality. It has inbred resistance to apple scab and cedar apple rust. Good resistance to fireblight and powdery mildew. Stores about 1 month in refrigeration.

With all these apple trees to caretake, we’ll need to do a thorough job of wassailing this solstice. I think we’ll swap the gunfire part of this ritual for some other noisemaking though. Check out this vintage Seven Trees Farm blog post for more info about apple tree wassailing – Wassail, drinc hael.

We’re also looking forward to learning how to take good care of our trees via Cloud Mountain Farm’s Good Orchard Subscription Newsletter . Even though there are plenty of good websites with orchard-care info, and the classes we’ve taken were a good foundation, having a complete package of information delivered to our email inbox will be very helpful. Sometimes keeping track of what to to when to which trees can be a little overwhelming, so kudos to Cloud Mountain for sharing their extensive knowledge this way.

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