Consider Cider Apples!
Just as microbrewing has gained popularity and home brewing has become somewhat commonplace in the last 20 years or so, we are now seeing hard cider making quite a splash for the first time since before the industrial revolution!
Apple Juice: Juice of the apples that has been filtered to remove any pulp or sediment.
Fresh Cider: Raw apple juice that has not been filtered to remove pulp or sediment.
Hard Cider: Fermented raw apple juice that has not been filtered to remove sediment or pulp. Alcohol volume can vary from less than 3% abv to 8.5% abv.
Cider making dates back to ancient roman times, and as early as 55 BCE when romans were conquering Europe, they found that cider was already being made from crabapples. The romans introduced cultivars and orcharding methods, and by the Norman conquest of 1066, french cultivars were introduced, and cider quickly became a popular drink, second only to ale.
The popularity continued to grow in the Americas as apple trees grew well here and water was typically unsafe to drink, so everyone, including children drank cider. Cider making helped to preserve the most of the harvest as well, what wasn't consumed in some form or another was made into vinegar- which has many beneficial uses to this day. Cider began losing it's popularity by the industrial revolution, as more people abandoned farms and orchards to live and work in cities.
Cider making is in a resurgence now, and so are many heirloom cultivars of Apples that were developed as early as the 1700's specifically for cider making, and we just got some lovely ones in here at the nursery! So enough of the (very) abridged history lesson and on to the info about these amazing apple cultivars!
Reinette du Canada (pictured at top) apples are esteemed in France for making tarts and late eating when mellowed. The Reinette du Canada is a very late season medium to large size apple. Fruit greenish-yellow gold and somewhat russetted. Sharp, dry, crisp texture and flavor make it an excellent choice for desserts and cider making. If the Reinette Du Canada apples are harvested early it's considered a top cooking apple, tart and flavorful; when picked later and stored, you'll find a sweet and relatively dry eating apple.
Karmijn de Sonnaville originated in the Netherlands in the 40s from crosses between Jonathan and Cox, among others. The Karmijin de Sonnaville is vigorous, spreading, prone to biennial bearing. The fruit has rich, robust flavor with masses of sugar and acidity and crisp juicy flesh. Karmijn de Sonnaville is one of the strongest-flavored apples comparable to Ashmead's Kernel. Apples red or with red flush and larger than either parent. Fruit are prone to cracking and russeting which can be severe as harvest approaches. Despite these problems, its intense flavor and unusual appearance makes this one of the most beloved or reviled "cox" strains. Flowers are large and beautiful.
Recently home gardens and small orchards have renewed interest in the Golden Russet apple trees for its distinctive appearance and intense flavor. The Golden Russet was prized as the "champagne" of old-time cider apples, also delicious for eating out of hand and drying. The Golden Russet apple is golden bronze with a coppery orange cheek; heavily splotched with light brown russet. Crisp, highly flavored, fine-textured, yellow flesh makes very sugary juice. The Golden Russet apples are high in both sugar, acid and tannins, which make them a good pair with almost any apple for eating, cooking or cider. Golden Russet shows some resistance to scab and cedar apple rust.
Ashmead's Kernel apple tree is known as an old English winter russet apple. The first Ashmead's Kernel apple tree, originated from a seed planted around 1700 by a Dr. Thomas Ashmead in Gloucester. The Ashmead's Kernel apple is medium size, golden-brown skin with a distinct crisp, nutty snap. The fruit explodes with a champagne-sherbet juice infused with a sugary and sharp character and highly prized for cider making.
Zabergau Reinette is an heirloom variety first originated in Germany, 1885. Very large, gold-brown russet fruit. Crisp, white flesh. Rich and nutty, develops into sweet and spicy flavors. A good pie or fresh eating apple, all-purpose. Sometimes also used for cider. Peak flavor between November-February.
We got in around 100 cider apple trees at our Appleway location, and folks- these trees are huge and gorgeous! Sierra pictured here amongst the trees is around 5'6", just to give you a frame of reference. They are in 10 gallon pots and about 1.5" caliper plus. They're a steal at $99.99 each! All 5 varieties featured cross pollinate well with each other and are hardy to our inland northwest climate. Cider apples can be used for fresh eating, desserts, baking and saucing, etc in addition to just cider making. The fruit is typically on the smaller side, but not as small as crabapples, and is often russeted and/or misshapen looking, but they are well worth the outside the box appearance.
The trees themselves are a beautiful specimen in the yard between the showy rich pink buds opening to large white flowers and the yellow to rosy fall foliage color.
If you're looking for the not so commonly available in the stores fruit, these are a wonderful addition to the home orchard or even to the feed plot.
Come on out and check them out!