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Posts Tagged ‘Apple Varieties’

The family and I had a succesful weekend of cider pressing. Every year we go over to my in-law’s home and press apples for fresh cider. This year we used Honeycrisp apples that my father-in-law grows, as well as Red Delicious apples from Yakima and a few other varieties. We were pressing about 1 bushel of apples to yield a gallon or gallon and one-half. This is the first year I’ve really paid attention to yield per bushel. Does anyone else have any statistics on how many gallons of cider they yield per bushel or box of apples?

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Honeycrisp apples have gained significant popularity over the past few years, even though they have been around for quite some time. Honeycrisp apples are the result of a 1960’s cross-breeding of the Macoun and Honeygold apple varieties. A project of the University of Minnesota apple breeding program. This year’s harvest of Honeycrisps will probably produce another year of growth. In Washington  State alone Honeycrisp production growth was 118% from 2006 to 2007 and another 33% from 2007 to 2008. Honeycrisps are a great table apple as well as a great blending apple for fresh apple cider.

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The Kingston Black apple is another variety of apple that is best suited for cider making only. With its bitter taste it isn’t much of an eating apple like so many of the apples grown in the United States. In  fact, most cider making apple varieties don’t even look like the larger Red Delicious or Fuji’s that everyone  loves to eat. Most cider making apples are smaller and tend to grow in clusters of 3 or more. If you are looking to grow cider apples or if you are looking for a variety to buy to make hard cider, the Kingston Black may be a good place to start. It is a good stand alone variety, or varietal, so you don’t necessarily need to blend this apple variety with other apple varieties. If you do want to grow a Kingston Black apple tree, you can purchase them in the States and they are best suited to grow in hardiness zones 4-9. This hardiness zone covers a majority of the US, from the Yakima Valley in Washington State to the Tennessee River Valley. See the map below. The only climates to avoid would be the northern plains and the southern tip of Florida.

Climate and growing zones for the United States

Climate and growing zones for the United States

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The Crimson King apple is an old english variety used to make hard cider. This apple variety was propagated by a man named John Toucher of Bewley Down in the late 1800’s. When used to make hard apple cider the end result has a fruity taste. Crimson King apples are a smaller bright red apple that typically grow to be only about 2.5 inches in diameter. Crimson King’s are harvested in November (in most climates) and some people use them for cooking as well.

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Gourmet Fruit Basket

Gourmet Fruit Basket

Grove’s Goodness does it again with the Orchard Harvest Gourmet Fruit & Gift Basket. It is loaded up with fresh fruits including: 4 varieties of Pears, 2 varieties of Apples, Citrus Oranges & Pineapple. This gourmet gift basket also includes a 10 ounce bottle of perry, and assorted gourmet fruit and nut covered chocolates. At a very affordable price this gift basket is sure to please any recipient. This Fruit & Gift basket weigh’s 15 lbs., and is loaded with goodies. Pear varieties include Green D’Anjou Pears, Columbia D’Anjou Pears, Bosc Pears, and Seckel Pears. Apple varieties included are Red Delicious and Fuji.

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If you are interested in making your own cider you must read Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Hard & Sweet Cider by Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols.  It is a very easy read,  but it thorough in its approach to guiding beginning  cider makers. The book covers both hard (alcoholic) cider as well as sweet (fresh) cider and which apples are best to use for both. There is a great chapter on Cider Presses themselves and the variety of styles to choose from. If you are interested in growing your own trees they even touch on what types of trees are best suited for you. They also cover some topics beyond just making your own apple cider, such as cooking recipes, making apple cider vinegar, and how the law plays a role in making cider. If you’ve ever wanted  to learn about home making apple cider this is a great place to start.

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According to the Washington State Apple Commission, Washington harvests close to 100 million boxes of apples annually. This equates to about 10 billion individual apples that are handpicked. The top five varieties of apples expected for this year’s harvest are Red Delicious, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith and Golden. Together they make up about 90% of total apples grown. And with over 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the United States, the only native apple is the crab apple. Washington State apples are harvested from mid-August (Gala) to as late as November (Cripps Pink). Many Farmers and orchardists have “pressing parties” this time of year, especially when you start to harvest a couple different varieties. Homemade cider from Washington State grown apples is hard to beat. Pressing homemade cider with your own Cider press  is fun for the entire family.

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I found a great website from a nursery down in California. They have about 29 European apple trees and bench grafts for anyone who is interested in planting their own trees for experimenting.

Here is a link to the site: http://www.greenmantlenursery.com/fruit/apple-cider.htm

For those interested in experimenting with both sweet and hard apple cider, you can check out another site that offers cider pressing equipment and accessories. Even with homemade cider making equipment you can easily make 25 to 50 gallons of cider in a given day. This tends to be more than enough cider for enjoying right away (sweet) and also using some to ferment for hard cider.

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If you are in the Philly area this harvest season, you’ll definitely want to check out West Chester’s Highland Orchards. In operation since 1941 with over 200 acres of fruit, you can pick your own apples for cider pressing. They have a number of varieties of apples as well including: Empire, Jonagold, Stayman, Ida Red, Mutsu, Winesap, Rome, Granny Smith and Fuji. Be sure to check out Highland Orchards before October 31st.  Tours, good food, rides and other activities are also available.

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I have been working on building an apple press for a few months now. I have met some very creative people who are doing the same here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. And now, as we begin the harvest season I am especially excited to try my most recent cider press project. When I purchased it earlier this year, it is an older cider press, part antique part thrown together over the years. But that is exactly what I am doing with the press. I am only replacing old or broken parts and hope to test it out in the next couple of weeks. This season I am going to press two varieties of apples together. I think I’ve got a good supply from last years harvest that have been sitting in C.A. all year. I am going to mix Granny Smith’s and either Red Delicious or Fuji’s. I am only making fresh cider or juice, not hard cider. I have heard that the Fuji’s have too much sugar when making hard cider. That is something I am learning about as well and hope to start a batch next year. If anyone has any other variety mixes they are trying, or have favorites, please post them!

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