My Favorite Apple Cultivar
Apple cultivars come in so many attributes that sometimes it can be tricky to know your apple.When I moved to my current little farm, there was an apple tree in my back yard in addition to the six in a mini-orchard. The tree in the back yard was shaped strangely, with two main branches starting a foot above the ground and kind of twisted over to one side. It had billions of little water sprouts and tiny leaves. When the apples came, they were so tiny that we wondered if it was a crabapple tree. I think I tasted one that year and it had a bitter astringent taste. As I did with the other orchard trees, I pruned and sprayed for several years in a row. Each year, the pruning helped the health of the tree, and the leaves and apples got bigger. They still tasted terrible, though, and we frequently talked about cutting it down, although we appreciated the shade it gave us in the summer. Last year I didn't even pick any apples - I just gathered them from the ground and fed them to the goats. Then in November, I noticed some pretty large, good looking apples still on the tree. I picked one and tasted it. It was fabulous! Crisp, juicy and sweet/tart. It was a pretty color, too. it is very dark red. So it appears that the bad flavor had been from trying to harvest too early. This is a very late cultivar. It has beautiful swooping down branches that look graceful in my back yard. It is crisp and juicy, tart yet sweet. Divine.
This year I took some of the apples to the Home Orchard Society's tasting party where there were experts doing identification. They told me it was Arkansas Black. This is a fabulous apple. I have used it mostly for fresh eating this year. It is so good that I'm not sure there will be anything left for cooking. We dehydrated a few of the apples, and the dried apples were intensely delicious. I think they will hold their shape when cooked, so they should be good in pies, but maybe not a saucing apple.
So now I am in love with an apple cultivar. At the show, I found several other apples which I thought were wonderful. I have ordered them on M9 rootstocks for espalier. I will surely have more reviews of wonderful apples in the years to come.