The tale of the spread of neophyte apple varieties across the United States is an interesting one. Despite the fact that the settlers brought good European varieties with them, the majority proved to be unsuitable for the climate of the New World. Because of Johnny Appleseed, a tradition of apple varieties arose which was uniquely American.
Today, there is a growing recognition that the diversity of the old heritage varieties should be protected, and the best way to do that is to start eating and cooking them! Growing your own heirloom apple trees gives you the chance to experience these old-fashioned flavors.
Ashmead’s Kernel originated in the Gloucester area of England from seeds planted by a Dr. Ashmead in 1700. Ashmead’s Kernel is a yellowish russet apple with golden brown skin, medium size, and ugly. But when you bite in, watch out! This apple explodes with a champagne-sherbet flavor, infused with orange blossom. The unusual flavor has made this russet a favorite for 300 years. It is meaty, dense, and sugary.
Braeburn was first discovered growing from a volunteer seedling found in New Zealand in the 1950’s. It's a natural cross between Lady Hamilton and Granny Smith. Braeburn is exceptionally crisp and juicy, with a rich, full blend of sweet-tart flavor. It has an attractive color, red with green skin. It's great for salads or with mild cheeses, and holds its shape when it's cooked.
This is an English apple that has a nicely documented story. As a young girl, Mary Ann Brailsford grew the first tree from pips she planted in her cottage garden in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, UK. The cottage (and tree) was purchased by a local butcher, Matthew Bramley in 1846. About a decade later, a local nurseryman named Henry Merryweather asked if he could take scions from the tree. Bramley agreed, but insisted that the apples bear his name. The first recorded sale of a Bramley was noted in Merryweather's accounts on October 31, 1862. The Bramley must be planted in the company of two pollinators for all three trees to fruit. This apple is considered the best of all cooking apples. It is slightly tart.