In the Apple Orchard
 
American Golden Russet
Braeburn
Fuji
Jonagold

Macoun

Mutsu

Northern Spy

Spartan
Ping relaxes after a day of picking apples.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Eight of the 16 varieties we grow in our 35-tree apple orchard.
   
 

Hand grinding our apples into cider
   
 

With a prolific crop this year,(2008) we pressed four "turns" of cider and have put up applesauce and pie slices. From the cider we boiled down a couple of batches to make apple cider syrup, a project not unlike making maple syrup. It's an indispensable cooking aid to tame the acidity of tomato products. We dry the Northern Spies and Mutsus for wintertime snack food, and the pomace from our cider-making goes into our garden beds to enrich the soil. We measure our carbon footprint in feet!

Some of the Varieties We Grow:

American Golden Russet Golden Russet is an early American apple, believed to have sprouted from a seed of an English Russet. It was a commercially marketed variety by the early 1800s and won a following. The yellow flesh is crisp, fine-textured, and brightly flavorful, with a noticeable sweetness that made it a traditional favorite for hard cider. The apples can be used for cooking and drying. As with most russets, the apples keep well, but they need humid storage if they aren't to get soft under the skin.

BraeburnBraeburn is a chance seedling from New Zealand's South Island, introduced in 1952, and is named after Braeburn Orchards, where it was first grown commercially. It is generally thought to be a seedling of a variety called Lady Hamilton. The other parent is not known but is popularly believed to be Granny Smith. Uncut, Braeburn has a faintly cidery perfume. The skin is thin and seems to disappear in the mouth. The flesh is yellow-green to creamy yellow, breaking and crisp in texture. Braeburn offers a complex, sweet tart flavor, with a noticeably aromatic aftertaste.

Fuji Fuji was developed from American parents, Ralls Genet and Red Delicious. Not a particularly gorgeous variety, it signals the reemergence of taste and texture as the main reasons for growing an apple. The cream-colored, firm, fine-grained flesh seems something special from the first bite, as it fills the mouth with sweetness and juice. In taste tests Fuji consistently scores at or near the top, and among late-maturing varieties it is a standout. Fuji is regarded as the best keeper of any sweet variety, and the apples retain their toothsome firmness for up to a year in refrigeration.

JonagoldThe cross of Jonathan and Golden Delicious was released in 1968 and since then has become extremely popular across Europe. With its aroma of Golden Delicious and the sprightliness of Jonathan, Jonagold is an excellent sweet-tart dessert apple. The texture of the creamy yellow flesh is noticeably crisp and juicy. In a poll of nineteen apple experts in nine countries, Jonagold scored as the overall favorite. The fruit makes fair sauce and a good pie. If picked on time, Jonagolds store fairly well.

Macoun Macoun has fans who hunt roadside stands watch fall for a bushel or two. It is a prodigy of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station and was introduced in 1923. The apple has some resemblance, in taste and appearance, to its parent McIntosh (bred with Jersey Black) but with a darker red over the underlying green and a flavor that many prefer to Mac. The white flesh is firm, aromatic and juicy. This is a good pie apple. The stubby stem creates a propensity to drop off and hence is not a favorite market apple.


Mutsu
Mutsu is a cross between Golden Delicious and Indo. It was developed in Japan in the 1930s and arrived in the United States in the late 1940s. The crisp, white flesh is juicy and has a touch of tartness, making an excellent dessert apple. In taste tests of Golden Delicious and apples descended from it, Mutsu scores on top. It does not make a particularly diverting pie. Sauce will have more flavor if peels are left on during cooking and then separated out after. Mutsu is a worthwhile cider apple. Because this is a late apple and a large apple, we dry some into slices.

Northern Spy A widely grown American heirloom apple variety. The fruit is late ripening and stores well. The variety has been used as a rootstock for other varieties, although it is not particularly easy to grow. It's an old-fashioned variety that retains its popularity. Parentage unknown. The apples are huge and are our choice for drying. They bruise easily so we hand pick them, preferably not in a snowstorm as we did this year, and before the temperatures drop into the low 20s.

Spartan Spartan is a historically interesting apple, being probably the first new variety to be developed as the result of a formal scientific breeding program. It was created at the Canadian Apple Research Station in Summerland, British Columbia in the 1920s, and is a cross between McIntosh and Newtown Pippin — both popular North American apples of the time. Before this, most new varieties were developed either by chance or by amateurs cross-pollinating varieties and hoping for the best.

The ribbed, dark, good-looking fruit buffs nicely. Uncut, it may have a sweet, candy-like aroma. The flesh is firm, crisp, snow white and notably brisk in flavor and aroma. The flavor does not hold up well when cooked and has to lean on a lemon or two. Spartan is a small sweet apple, and a great favorite with children. It is very much a "McIntosh" style apple — bright crimson skin and whiter-than-white flesh.

We leave ours on the tree as long as possible, until they are crimson all over, as this allows the flavor to develop. Straight from the tree the flesh is very crisp and juicy, but it softens a bit within a week or so of picking — although remaining juicy. This is also a good variety for juicing — the juice color is not especially remarkable but the flavor is good. Spartan is an excellent garden apple, being easy to grow, resistant to scab, fairly resistant to mildew, and it crops reliably.

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