Thursday, September 22, 2011

Heirloom Apple Orchard Identification Project

As mentioned in some previous posts, our friend owns a farm in Prince Edward County. At Breezy Acres there are a variety of apples growing in an abandoned orchard.  Some of the trees are 150 years old and are part of the original United Empire Loyalist Farm.  We'd love to start identifying some of these heirloom apple varieties and are asking for some help.

We have many plans for them and will be using the 8 bushels (that's 320 pounds) of apples that we picked for some really fun projects in the next few weeks.  In the meantime we have numbered 17 of these mystery varieties of apples and will be referring to them by these numbers until we make some headway in identifying them. Here they are, numbered, photographed and with our initial notes. Photos of the trees and of them on the branch will be added in future posts.

 1. No notes? I will eat one and report back shortly.
2. These are delicious and really retain their shape and colour when baked. These small apples have bumps on the bottom like "delicious" types and grew on a full sized tree.  They our one of our favourites.
3. These tart tasting fruits are probably a cider apple. Mainly green with a splash of red.  They oxidized really fast; turning brown within seconds of biting into them.  These grapes were growing within the tree.
4. These gorgeous apples have quite a bit of orange on their coats.  These were quite tart but not sour and very juicy.
 5. Gorgeous Russets.
6. Mainly yellow apples that packed a serious crunch.  There is russeting around the stem.
7. A full sized tree of eating apples growing quite close to the farm house. Love the speckles.
8. These apples are hard as a rock. They have streaks of true orange and are a little lopsided.
 9. Some Juicy cider apples.
 10.  These perfectly miniature apples are pretty tasty.
11. Nice crisp and juicy eating apples.  Gorgeous red and green streaked coats. These were growing in the hedgerow.
 12. More tiny apples.
13.  These are heavenly.  Quite sweet with a real crunch.  These are growing by the entrance to the farm and in direct view of the farm house.  These bake quite nicely, keeping their shape and colour.
14.  Rebecca loves these ones.   This very old tree is away from the main orchards and only about 15 feet tall although it has very thick branches.
15.  This tree hardly had any leaves but did have these gorgeous yellow apples that have cracked looking red shoulders.
16.  These must be for making sauce or used for their pectin. They are soft and rather bland when eaten raw.  When cooked, they turn into perfect mush.  they have bumps on the bottom like the "delicious" varieties.
17. These are from a lovely little wild tree.  A little 4 foot tree that had 8 apples on it.  We ate them all.
These crap apples have been planted recently.  we picked a few to add to our cider and have included them here to compare to the small apple craps to show the difference.  We only found 1 other true crab apple in the orchards.
We picked some lovely bartlet pears form a "modern" tree.
Last but not least there are these sour sour pears. What an earth are these for?  I'm guessing making hard pear cider?
They make Rebecca make this face. And she like s sour things and is one of those kids that will eat an entire onion.
A whole giant 40 foot tree just dripping with them. Oh they are something else!

So any thoughts on IDing any of these gorgeous fruits?  Or know of any resources I could use? Have any thoughts on what the different kinds are for?  there are also really dry fleshed ones that would dehydrate nicely and some that I think may be grown for their pectin. 

I have some good books and site and have met some knowledgable apple people recently but could really use some help.  We'll be referring back to this post in the upcoming weeks.


  1. My parents have a 100+ year old abandoned orchard across from their house (the original farmhouse burned down but the stone foundation survives) One of my favourites is a smallish bright candy red apple with a really white inside. It would be helpful to see what the insides of all the apples are like for colour of the flesh and to know a bit about their texture to identify.

    From the outside they look like number 10 or 13. My dad calls them Snows. Google tells me "Origin: Introduced to the United States via Canada in 1739; however, this variety originated in France in the 1600's. It is one of the oldest varieties on record. The flesh is pure white giving it the name of SNOW APPLE. It is an ancestor to the McINTOSH variety."

    They make really lovely apple sauce and if you leave the skins on and then remove them after cooking they make the applesauce a lovely pink colour.

    Do you have crabapples to spare? I am desperate for some for jelly making and would be willing to trade/buy/steal some. The city crop of crabs is dismal thanks to all the rain this May.

  2. I'm afraid I'm no help in identifying...but I'd love to eat some crab apples. I hadn't thought of those is years. I used to eat those all the times growing up in Canada.

    Love her face eating the sour pear! I wonder if those would make good liqueur?

    ps...I have my birthday giveaway going on right now...make sure you pop by. :-)

  3. I'm not much help either but there a towering apple tree that grows on Dundas near my house which I picked last year and had no ide what type of apple I was eating. I brought one to the Sorauren Market and asked one of our farmers and he identified it as a Delicious because of the points on the bottom. I would never have guess that in a million years- these apples bear no resemblance in looks, or taste to the ones sold in grocery stores as the same variety. Good luck on your project, it's incredibily worthwhile to keep those varieties going if possible!

  4. I am looking forward to hearing about making cider! That's on my to-do list.

  5. What a great adventure! Sad truth is, it's pretty hard to identify apples based on looks alone.

    You also have to figure that probably not all of those apples were ripe yet, or were past ripe, and at peak might have different flavors.

    The size of the tree depends on the rootstock, not the budwood (the apple variety grafted onto it).

    Forensic nursery work to ID these apples would probably include detailed observations and measurements, including when the trees blossom, when the fruit ripens, how firm its flesh is, the appearance of the calyx, and specific description of its flavor, among dozens of other things.

    You could maybe short cut that if you can bring some to a very experienced orchardist to taste. Are there any "apple days" where you live?

    I say, enjoy what you've got! Give them names of your own. And if that "wild" tree is from seed, it is a foundling--a new variety--maybe the next McIntosh or Cox's Orange Pippin!

  6. We have #16 at Country Heritage Park in Milton Ontario. I have recently found out that they are Early Red Rambo. They are great for making sauce. The grapes that you have are Wild River Grapes. They are very tart. They make great juice and jelly but they need almost as much sugar as juice. I have 3 more apple types I am trying to identify, I don't think they match any of yours though. Good luck with your search and enjoy your apples.