Orchard People

Learn about old apple cultivars with apple historian Daniel Bussey, author of The Illustrated History of Apples in the United States and Canada.

The host of The Urban Forestry Radio Show and Podcast is Susan Poizner of the fruit tree care education website www.orchardpeople.com.  Tune into The Urban Forestry Radio Show LIVE by going to RealityRadio101.com on the last Tuesday of every month at 1.00 pm Eastern Time.

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  • (00:00) - Exploring old apple varieties at an apple tasting event
  • (00:34) - Podcast name change in January
  • (01:53) - Why Dan started writing about old apple varieties
  • (03:23) - Why old apple varieties have funny names
  • (05:25) - Smokehouse Apple and fire blight resistance
  • (06:31) - Ginger Gold Pedigree
  • (07:52) - Slack ma Girdle apple!
  • (08:36) - Best old apple varieties for fresh eating
  • (12:07) - Why russet apples fell out of favor
  • (14:09) - How do you identify apple varieties on an old tree visually and with DNA testing
  • (17:25) - Black Oxford and Roxbury Russet apple questions
  • (19:14) - Westfield seek no further apple history
  • (20:58) - How names of old apple varieties have changed over the years.
  • (22:44) - Ben Davis apple history and why it has multiple names
  • (24:46) - McAfee apple history
  • (26:08) - Sheep nose apple variety
  • (26:54) - Tolman Sweet apple trees
  • (28:07) - Old apple varieties that are easier to grow
  • (29:58) - A Word from our Sponsors
  • (34:37) - More on Old Apple Varieties
  • (35:53) - History of the USDA apple illustrations
  • (37:10) - Pitmastin Pineapple and Fire blight resistance
  • (38:12) - Ashmeet's Kernel - and identifying Russet apples
  • (39:47) - Franklin apple
  • (40:34) - Are many old apple varieties lost forever?
  • (41:30) - Limbertwig apples
  • (43:54) - Allergies to some apples and not to others
  • (46:44) - Where to buy old apple varieties
  • (47:41) - Programs to preserve old apple varieties and apple tree grafting
  • (51:46) - Which old apple varieties make the best pies
  • (54:00) - Did you enjoy this show as a livestream on YouTube?
  • (54:42) - How to order Dan's books and how to reach out to him
  • (56:41) - How to access more fruit tree podcasts like this one

Creators & Guests

Susan Poizner
Author, fruit tree educator, and Creator of the award-winning fruit tree care education website OrchardPeople.com.

What is Orchard People?

Learn how to grow and care for fruit trees with fruit tree care educator Susan Poizner of OrchardPeople.com. Discover how to create permaculture plantings, food forests, and forest gardens in both urban and rural settings. Meet experts on all aspects of comprehensive fruit tree care, including pruning, pest and disease prevention, fruit tree grafting and budding, and soil management.

Show host Susan Poizner, creator of the fruit tree education website OrchardPeople.com, is an award-winning author of three fruit tree care books and an ISA Certified Arborist. This podcast is the winner of the 2021 GardenComm Silver Award of Achievement for Broadcast Media: Radio Program Overall. Learn more and access archived episodes at https://podcast.orchardpeople.com/.

Learn more about Susan's books and courses at https://learn.orchardpeople.com/books.

Recently I attended an apple tasting event in an orchard in Ontario.
It was so much fun and we tasted a lot of different old apple varieties. Some of them actually dated back hundreds of years. On today's show we're going to explore old apple varieties with Daniel Bussey. So Dan is the author of The Illustrated History of Apples in the United States and Canada. And my conversation with Dan is coming up in just a moment.
So another big update. Currently this show is called the Urban Forestry Radio Show and Podcast. Now, today is a special day though.
Because it's our 99th episode, and it's the last one that I'm going to do under the name The Urban Forestry Radio Show.
Over the past eight years, the show has really evolved, and so have our listeners. And many of our listeners in our community, they live both in urban and in rural environments. But what we all have in common is we are all passionate about fruit trees, food forests, and permaculture.
So starting in January 2024, the show is going to be rebranded, and it will be called
The Orchard People Podcast, or Orchard People Radio. I'm going to figure that out soon. So, if you are already subscribed to the podcast, you will continue to hear, updates, and you'll see new episodes, under, if you're already subscribed under the old name.
If not, and you're looking for the podcast, just go to your podcatcher and look up Orchard People. This will be from January, and you will find us. I would hate to lose you guys. And now let's get started with today's interview with Dan on Old Apple Varieties.
Dan, welcome to the show today. It's a pleasure to be here. It is so lovely to have you. It's a real honor because you are a person who has pretty much devoted your life to, researching different apple varieties. You're like a private detective for lost apples. Tell me a little bit about how the journey began.
How did you start getting interested in old apple varieties? I had to think about it a little bit, what possessed me to take this project on, but I, guess it starts because I grew up in the middle of what was our old family farm orchard back in Wisconsin. it had been planted about four generations before me.
And so as a kid, I was always surrounded by old apple trees. there weren't that many left, of course, at that time when I was a kid, but, they were always around. I'm just used to that. And so when I wanted to homestead in the seventies, I knew I was going to plant fruit trees and, I read a book called Apples and Man that was written by Fred Lape.
He was the director of the George Landis Arboretum in, near Esperance, New York. And, it talked about the old varieties. And I thought that this is something I wasn't aware of. And I thought, This could be a lot of fun. So I got the book, I sent for it and, read it and I was captivated by the names.
And I think that's what's always got me interested is because of the very interesting and strange sometimes names that they, apples were known by. Absolutely. Like
I have your books. Oh my gosh. So you can look through these books and some of the names are frankly hilarious. So right here, I think I have the bee book here.
Here are some names that I found.
Big Buff, a Big Buff Apple from South Carolina.
Bible, the Bible Apple from Tennessee. There's
Betsy Fancy from Virginia.
There's even an Apple from Michigan. called barn door. So where did these names come from?
Everywhere, anywhere. you name it. most apples are named for places, people or things.
And so they take on a life of their own, sometimes by sheer accident. Smith cider, is an apple that, Came about just because it grew next to a, an old cider mill. They would roll the barrels down this hill to get to the building and it would bang into this tree. And so it was called the Smith Cider Apple because of that.
huh. So, so that makes sense in terms of locations, but things like, Betsy Fancy or, Big Buff, like who invented, who even thought of these things? A lot of times they're family names, Buff, I think is a family name from, there. and. that's a lot of it is you have to look at what's behind the name and that's what I've started to spend more of my time doing is understanding where did these names come from?
Because they usually follow a certain pattern and you can figure it out. But sometimes it's unusual. So you have to be a detective just like you said.
Exactly. Well, we have some comments on YouTube, live. So let's have a look. We've got a comment from Gil. Hi, Susan, it's Gil. Great to see you on the podcast.
I'm your neighbor in Toronto. Hi, Gil. That's great. Wow. Another Toronto person. Momentum Malum, Momentum, oh, Momentum Malum is hi, I'm Brandon and I'm tuning in from Waterloo, Ontario. And
Brandon has a question for you. Hello, Dan Bussey.
There is a cultivar called smokehouse. I've actually tried smokehouse.
That's interesting. that Brandon mentions it. I have heard mixed reviews on whether or not this Cultivar has fire blight resistance. Can you tell me if this cultivar is resistant? Well, that's interesting 'cause I know out of the thousands of cultivars that you write about, you do write in your book about disease resistance, don't you?
Yes, I'm trying to when I can find that sort of information. I've grown smokehouse. Smokehouse is one of my favorite apples, actually. it's a wonderful Pennsylvania variety. It's not particularly handsome, but it, its flavor more than makes up for it. so it's, a really lovely apple. I've grown it and I've not had any issues with fire blight, with that apple.
And so I would say that a lot of it is how you grow it. That makes a big difference on what kind of a rootstock, how vigorous the tree is. Are you in an area where fire blade is an issue? So you have to consider all those things. Gotcha.
Okay. And we've got a, a message here from Bigham Cider and Nursery watching from Detroit, Michigan.
I'm interested in learning about ginger gold and its pedigree, which I read includes Newtown Pippin. Actually, ginger gold is delicious. I discovered it a few years ago. It is a newer variety. do you have any idea? Is there like a golden delicious in its background or something like that?
Yeah. I hate to say it, I'm not very versed on the newer varieties. But I'll take your word for what you said it was. I can some, I can look that up, excuse me. But it's one of those that, yeah, I'm, I've not paid attention to it that much other than eating it when I see it. And it's a lovely apple.
And, Bigham Cider and Nursery, look it up online and share in the, in the comments what you find. I remember looking it up when I tasted it. I think there's Golden Delicious in there. It is a very nice apple. If you find anything, please put it in the comments box. We've got other people saying hello.
Steve from Lincolnville, Maine. Howard watching from Johnson, Vermont. Dawn's there. Dawn. Hi, Susan. This is awesome. Hi, Dawn. Welcome. I'm so glad you were available to tune in on Boxing Day.
John says, favorite name. Oh my gosh. John's favorite apple name. I don't know if this is real. You can tell us or not.
Slack ma girdle. Oh yes. Yes. No lighter apple. It's a great cider apple. And it has a reputation of if you eat too much of it, you may need to loosen your Garments. Oh, I thought it was something else. Okay, I thought it. Okay, so you want to. Okay, I get it. Especially if it's in a pie form, if it's in pie form, perhaps.
All right. I've never had that effect myself with apples, but you never know. Okay. Slack my girdle. I love it. Okay.
Cameron writes cam North. Sky Farm in South Haven, Michigan, home of the Red Haven peach tree. I did not know that. What old varieties were good for eating? We hear that they were largely crab apples, good for cidering only.
Cameron, what a great question, because I did want to ask you, those old apples, why were they chosen? Because they were tasty, because they were easy to store, so, so, yeah, great question. All kinds of things. All kinds of reasons. They grew apples for many different reasons. There were some for fresh eating, but of course, a lot of them were for processing, for making pies, for cooking with.
And of course, cider was always a, commodity that we had to deal with. certainly more New England based, hard cider making. But, as it spread westward, different ethnic settlements, like in Wisconsin, started with apples. There was not much of a hard cider culture here because there was a lot of Germans that came in and they were able to make beer fairly early on.
So it never really quite had the cachet as it did in New England. I just love this question because today, and I've done a lot of research and interviews about this, what consumers are looking for is a crispy, juicy apple and sweet. So like a honeycrisp apple in the old days were people looking for that for their dessert apples or they're eating apples or were there different things down in the south, sweeter apples were probably preferable to up in the north.
Where we liked those sort of tart apples with a little bit of sweet with them. But yeah, there was a cultural difference between North and South, sweet apples to the South and more tart apples to the North. And that's of course, what I like of course, is, the really tart apples, bite you back.
There's an old German variety called Erwin Bauer, which is one of my favorites. I think it's from around 1920 and it, is a lovely, apple. And it's really sharp, but it's good. Oh my gosh. those interesting flavors. I did an apple tasting years ago where there was one. It was a German apple called something pancake.
I don't know if that comes to mind. Hornburger pancake. Which burger? Hornburger. H O R N B U R G E R. Yeah. Hornburger pancake. This German apple. It is not your typical crispy, juicy, sweet for a modern apple and it is one of the most interesting and delicious apples I've ever had. And it just goes to show I do like a crispy, sweet, juicy apple.
But if we widen our horizons a bit, the types of flavors you get with the different apples is incredible. Yeah. Exactly. Okay, so we got a few more comments. Let's see who's next. Brandon, I think, tunes in again. excellent. Thank you for the information. I have had Smokehouse myself and it would be in my pedigree.
From what I remember, Ginger Gold is a hybrid between Newtown Pippin and Golden Delicious. Okay. That's interesting. That resonates with me. David writes, I think it was named after the farmer's wife. Ginger. Yes. I think it was, I'm just remembering this, even though I think it does have a gingery flavor. David, I will, I remember looking that up.
So we've got another, email. This one's from Sean. Hi Dan. It's Sean from Champaign, Illinois, and I was wondering if you could tell us about how rusted apples fell out of favor by commercial growers and how many of our old heirlooms were green versus red? Oh gosh, definitely that. it's really strange.
Russet apples to me are some of the best flavored apples that you'll ever find. They have, usually a fairly, high sugar acid balance, which gives them, I think, a rich depth of flavor, which you're just not going to find with a lot of others. And so I, I don't get that at all. they consider it a defect in the trade.
And I think they're some of the best apples. I also like them because they have a little bit more insect resistance. then other apples because they don't have that shiny red coat that makes them really pretty. and so I, we're, humans, I guess we eat with our eyes and if it doesn't look good, we doesn't think it tastes good.
Russet apples just throw that out the window as far as I'm concerned. They're great. there were a lot of yellow apples and green apples and red was always there, but, it was, a. A good mix of both. I think we've got gotten to the idea that Apple has to be read for it to be really good. And that's not right.
Well, I love your book, The Illustrated History of Apples in the United States and Canada, or your books, because you guys include those historic pictures of these, are watercolor pictures that were commissioned by the USDA to help identify Apple varieties. and you can really see how diverse the colors.
the shapes, of the apples are. We'll talk about those illustrations in just a minute, but I just, there's a few more questions and comments here. so we've got Mary saying, Hi, Mary here from Southern Colorado. Hello, Eric. Eric is here from Toronto.
And Elaine, I don't know what variety an apple tree is.
How can I figure out what it is? So, obviously Elaine has a tree and she doesn't know what it is. What would you suggest? It's a process. I can always tell you by looking at it what it isn't, and we work backwards from there and we can try to figure it out. So what we need to know is approximate age of the tree.
We could tell what the market records were at the time for something you may have planted or ancestors may have planted. we look at overall the phenological description of it, which is there. What does the apple look like? As far as its shape, this way, the core is the way the flesh is all those little descriptive characteristics can help.
I'm also working with a group from Washington State University that we're doing DNA studies on apples, and we have a really large baseline of DNA data. Acquired now. And so we can take a sample of your tree and send it in to have it checked and we could tell if it's a unique unknown, which means we don't know what it is or if it may fit exactly the profile of a known variety.
So there are ways to find this out. And if you do that DNA test, what bit of the tree or the apple do you need? Do you take leaves? Do you take the fruit itself? How do you test it? What we like to do is during the growing season, when there are new leaves just emerging, we like to get that tiny little piece of that new leaf as it's opening up, because then it's not contaminated by other factors around it.
We'll take a little bit of a leaf, and we'll drop it in a, like a coin envelope, and seal it up, and then we can send it, to Washington State University, and I think also Fort Collins, and we can do testing that way. There are several different types of tests, two different ones specifically. One is very more detailed, also more expensive, but that's another way to find out.
But, if you want to go the easier route, there are a couple people like myself, if you were to send an Apple sample to, I could take a look and tell you what I think it might be, and then we can narrow it down from there. So I know what Elaine's asking herself right now. How do I reach Dan?
Can she email you or how do people reach you? Yeah. I would say I'll give you my email address. I know this is opening the floodgates perhaps, but it's worthwhile. cider, dan at gmail. com cider. Dan is one word. Simple as that. that is really fantastic. There was somebody in Ontario who was doing that until recently.
He has just retired. And when he would take leaves, they dry up these leaves. They can, they have a whole, like you guys, like a whole database. and then when you get your report, it actually says any parentage. So even if it is an unknown variety, like a, tree grown from seed, they will know that, oh, yes, there's a little bit of gala in there.
There's a little bit of snow, apple or whatever else. Fascinating. I would love to see one of those reports. Okay, so, Momentum is back, and now is that Brandon, I think, saying, my apologies, I meant to say top 10, not pedigree. So that was one of his top 10 apples.
Kevin writes from Vaudrille, Dorion, Quebec, how about black Oxford and
roxbury russet. So I guess just a general interest question about black oxford and roxbury russet. What are those apples good for? Are they favorite and interesting varieties? Oh, Black Oxford is a wonderful apple. It has this really deep, dark, almost purplish black skin to it. It's a late season apple and it's got really a real rich, full flavor.
It's really a, it's a really lovely apple to grow and to eat. I like that one. Roxbury Russet is Oh, another one of those just fabulous russets that is just so, so tasty. It's, not super late in the season, but it's getting there. And it, it has this just lovely color to it. I like the colors of the russets.
They have this sort of orange ish, greenish. Lush to them, and they're just, I think, really attractive to me, but that's the way I like them. It's interesting, I have learned that the reason, a lot of breeders try to breed red fruit, whether it's peaches that have that rosy red, or apples, there's something about it that signals to people in our culture that it's ripe.
Red equals ripe, whereas golden, it's like, well, is it ripe? I don't know. But golden, one of my favorite, is golden russet. Very tasty apple. Okay, we've got an email here. Now, who is this from? so fun to learn about more apple varieties listening today from southeast Michigan while visiting family, but normally a listener from Colorado.
How awesome that you guys are able to tune in. And we have somebody else here.
We've got Pat from Granville, M. A. She is. M A Which state is MA? Massachusetts. Massachusetts. Wonderful. You mentioned the Westfield Seek No Further Apple. Westfield, Massachusetts is one town over from me. What can you tell me about its origins or history?
Oh, that's an old one, definitely been around since the 1700s. I've grown it, it's a really lovely apple. It's, it, is one of those that got around a lot. It really was grown in a lot of places. It was one of the apples that seemed to go everywhere when settlers moved farther west. And so it was taken with them all the time.
It's, one of the really classic heirloom varieties. so, And what do you think the Seek No Further is? Is, were they trying to express that this is your ultimate apple? You need not taste any other apple ever again. That was the point for the, why it was called that. Yeah, there were a lot of apples that had superlatives like that and, they were, well, advised not to name your apple like that, but it caught on and it stuck with it.
so yeah, it's a fun thing. So I want to talk a little bit about the people who discovered these apples and then named them, whether it's after themselves or after their partner, was, tell me what this was like hundreds of years ago, in this, society where people are growing apple trees, were they going to make their fame and fortune from Westfield Seek No Further or, some other interesting apple, Virginia Pippin or something.
Why were the names so important? And why did they report these to the USDA? Well, names, naming structure for apples has always been problematic. There's been so many different, thoughts about how it should be done. in, England, of course, there were a lot of names that were, used that, in Americans.
sources would have been considered vulgar and extreme. there's one, I just happened to get a copy of Leonard Philip Jr's book from, England, from around 1824. And it really admonished the London Horticultural Society for just these terrible names that they were using, like Angelic and.
Best Pool, and Ace's Heart, and Sheep Nose, and Little Pigeon, and Dainty, and Dog Snout, and, ones like that. They just thought those were horrible. And so when they got to the States, some of those names stuck, and they were brought here. But, there was, I'm going to mention that later with some Apple stories.
I guess the, the thought, process of how they were going to streamline names to make them attractive because this is about salesmanship. If you're going to sell an apple, you want to call it something that might sound good. so that does help, but there are apples that have terrible names, they're still, we're popular, but, we, like to have these attractive names, the prescription medicines that you're seeing advertised on television.
They have these really fancy names. If you learn the chemical name, it'd be pretty atrocious. That's true. So it was marketing. Okay. That makes sense. Now I want to go back.
Let's, scroll back a little bit to one of the most famous old apples. And I think it's Ben Davis. Am I right in saying that is a classic old apple?
Yeah. When I looked it up in your Illustrated History of Apples. There are like 10 million names for it. all different names. So just for Ben Davis, it was also called Red Stream, Joe Allen, Kentucky Red, Virginia Pippin, lots more. So tell me a little bit about the Ben Davis and why that would happen.
Well, it's an apple that went places. And of course, it came from, I think, North Carolina originally in and went to Kentucky, where it probably picked up the name. There was a band by the name of Ben Davis that it was attached to. and of course, there are stories that made. Be contrary to that, but that's about it.
And this is in the late 17 hundreds. And so that apple was a good hard storage apple and it was very popular. You could pack it in a barrels and ship it cross country or across the ocean and would come. come there fairly intact. It was nice. And so this apple was well grown. It was everywhere. It was equally loved and despised just like the Red Delicious, which replaced it.
But it was a long term storage apple, which sometimes it was best to be left alone for a couple of months and then to be eaten because the flavors improved at that point in time. But it was an apple that was super popular. It just went everywhere. When people went, moved farther west, they took that apple with them.
And that, so that makes sense because obviously in those days you did not have refrigerator trucks traveling around the country, and so I guess for an apple to be a keeper, so a nice hard apple that's easy to ship around, that was a great advantage. Whereas today we're so spoiled, anything that tastes good we could just pop it in the fridge and keep it a little longer.
Yeah. so that's an interesting old one.
And let's see another one that you and I had talked about. Is it called McAfee? McAfee. There's different McAfee. So why was that one remarkable? Another old remarkable apple. It's another apple that just went everywhere. People took it with him. It was another popular apple came from Kentucky from McAfee Station.
I'm trying to think the county and Kentucky was from, and it was one that was grown a lot through that. I think the middle states, middle and southern states, but I think it got all the way out to Oregon and California. It's everywhere, but it's one we're looking for. We don't know. We think we might have it, but, it's grown under at least 35 different names that I've been able to find.
And that's another one of those. So it traveled everywhere. The reason it got different names is. People took apples. They sometimes forgot what the name was. A nurseryman sometimes was enterprising and wanted to say, well, this is my newest, release. here's a great apple. Then he gets some credit for that.
And, so yeah, for good reasons and bad reasons, apples were renamed. That's a little sneaky. You get your golden delicious apple and you're like, oh, I think I'll call it the Susan apple. And I'll market it as the Susan apple. We've got some more, conversation going on. Let's see what we've got here.
so Donald from Fairfields Orchards is in Ontario. Anishinaabeking, Ontario. That's interesting. Hello, Donald. John, I've, John writes, I've never tasted sheep nose. What is it like? Great apple name. Yeah, it's also known as black yellow flower and it's a hard storage apple. It's one that, it's, a real nice deep apple and it's got that elongated shape.
So it has that sort of sheep's nose look to it. And so it's got the name, but black yellow flower is another name for it, which I think is probably a little bit more known by. But yeah. Okay. Yeah. Great apple. Okay.
Steve writes, can you tell me about Tolman Sweet? That was prominent in early Maine.
Oh yeah. That's it's a really early variety. It's one, one of the earliest ones. I think only Rhode Island Greening might be a little bit older than that. But Tolman Sweet has been around for a long time. So it's a, it was a, another standard, Sweet apple in northern states, like where I'm at, Tolman sweet was one of the apples that was growing more than any other as far as the sweet variety.
So Tolman sweet, you find old trees of Tolman sweets up in the northern tier states quite a bit because it was a very popular variety. It has a, I think, a fairly telltale sort of a suture line around it. It looks like a stitch, but it's a, really nice apple. And apparently it's also used for ciders, I think.
Is that, true? It's, I don't think there's any apples you can't use for cider to some point. It's just a matter of what else you put in it to balance the flavors out. Okay. Then we've got a question here from maybe Jabe, maybe if that's the name. I'd love to hear some of your favorite fresh eating apples that are also likely to have.
some good disease resistance, of course, depending on the root stock.
So you've grown apples for many years. What do you find are the tastiest ones that give you the least trouble? I'm going to go with those, class of English russets like Roxbury russet, which is Massachusetts, but that style. I'm trying to think of couple.
Lord Hindlip is probably one of my all time favorites. It's just such a really great apple. You don't find it very often, but it is a nice one. I'm trying to think. Oh, pit mass and pineapple. It's on that glass, which is a very aggressive flavored apple. It's, one of those that is once you, if you have a Pitmaston and pineapple, you're not going to taste much else after that.
So it just overwhelms your taste buds. It is so intense and wonderful. knobbed russet is another apple. It's a little bit milder flavor, which is a really good one. That's another English variety that was rediscovered around 1940. and I think it dates back to 1819, but it's, it's another one of those really great apples.
To me, they just don't have as much trouble. They get coddling moth like most, but they don't get, apple maggot, which is a big problem, in northern states, because it just doesn't seem to attract the insects quite the same way. So it, to me, is much more resistant. So the last two you mentioned, the pineapple one, which sounds very intriguing, what is the first name?
Can you spell it for us, for people who might want to research it? PITMASTON. P I T M A S T O N. Okay. And the second one you mentioned. Lord Hindlip. Lord L O R D. And then what's the second word? H I N D L I P. Real simple. That's a great one. Okay. So hopefully that answers that question. Thank you for writing.
Now, what I would love to do is let's take just a couple of minutes to, watch some, commercials from our beautiful sponsors. And then if it's okay, Dan, you and I will come back, we'll turn off our cameras just for a moment when I share screen and we'll come back and we'll continue to talk about old apple varieties.
Are you good to hang in there for a minute or two? Okay, great.
Do you want to learn how to grow organic fruit trees quickly and successfully? I'm Susan Poizner from OrchardPeople. com and I teach online courses. Here's some feedback from one of my happy students. My name is Jennifer Chandler and I started growing fruit trees. It was three years ago now. I would recommend Orchard People courses, primarily because it is an excellent way to get up to speed fairly quickly and to build your confidence.
There seem to be so many different theories of what to do and different recipes for this and that. It's One isn't overwhelmed by the advice in Orchard People. I just find it so much faster to get up to speed and build confidence than trying to piece it together surfing the web or at the library.
Check out my courses at learn. orchardpeople. com
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Hey everybody, it's Susan Poizner here at OrchardPeople. com and you are listening to the Urban Forestry Radio Show and Podcast. And this show will soon be called the Orchard People Podcast or Orchard People Radio, I'm going to decide. That's in January. But currently you are probably, listening.
listening to the podcast, or you may be watching it live on the Orchard People YouTube channel. And if you are listening live to the Orchard People YouTube channel right now, I want to hear from you, please in the conversation link to this live stream, tell me where you are and, yeah, where you're listening from and.
What you're interested in learning about in terms of old apple varieties. On the show today, we've been talking to Daniel Bussey, who is an apple historian and
the author of the amazing seven volume book, The Illustrated History of Apples in the United States and Canada. And if you love old apple varieties, you probably already know about this amazing resource.
So, I'm going to continue talking to Dan in just a moment, but in the meantime, let's hear your comments in the chat. And now back to you, Dan.
So, tell me a little bit about the illustrations in the book. There are all these gorgeous pictures, where do they come from? the USDA, back about 1880. hired watercolor artists to paint apples.
People were sending apples to the USDA and the only way they could really record them properly was to have them painted life size of the outside of the apple so you get an idea of the skin coloration and the shape and then of course a cross section so you understand the way the core outline is and the way the flesh is, the color of it, all those little pertinent phenological details.
So who would have commissioned and paid for that? Like, why, what is the, what was the benefit? Well, a lot of people were wondering about that, why they were paid it, and they thought it was just to have a record of these lovely apples as they were coming in, but it also was then to have a record to know which ones had already been sent in case another nurseryman unscrupulously renamed an old variety under his own.
And that way it was to avoid duplication and get to the source of which was the right name. Oh, gotcha.
Okay, we've got a comment, I think from Brandon again. I have pitmastin pineapple. It does taste like pineapple and honey. I would consider this in my top 10. A paper by Dr. Luby found that this passes on fire blight resistance. Oh, that this passes on fire. Blight resistance to its progeny. So I'm not sure.
Does that mean, pitmast and pineapple itself is fire blight resistant or only these, the resulting seedling trees? I'm not sure. Well, the genetic structure may be that it will pass on, those genes potentially. it's never anything for sure, but it can pass that trait on. Gotcha. Yeah. So, here we've got, now let's see.
Oh, there's the source. So, Brandon is sharing in the chat the source for this article. Yeah. So, the article is called, Resistance to Fire Blight in a Diverse Apple. Very cool. Okay.
Now Michael says, would Ashmeet's Kernel be considered a russet variety? Any thoughts, info on Franklin? Is this a culinary or cider apple?
So we've got two questions. Ashmeet's Kernel. Is it a russet? Is that considered a russet? Yeah, I consider it a russet. And so when we call something a russet, it's simply the color of the skin, the thicker, nice goldy skin, right? Russet takes on different forms. Russet can be all over. It can be an entirely rued.
you can equivocate it to say shoebox cardboard, that sort of rough texture. usually a little bit better color than that. But it can go, it can be green, it can be yellow, it can be orange, it can even be red. So it does take on all those different coloration potentials. I found a, an old red russet apple called a Dockum russet, which came from New Hampshire.
And it, I found it in Baraboo, Wisconsin. It's a, it's an extremely rare variety and it's a wonderful apple. so anyways, we are making that available slowly as we can get it out. But, it's one of those, sometimes. The russet is not all over. It can be partially russeted. So there are areas of sort of normal colored skin with russet streaks.
It can be netted. It can be, in different forms, either a little bit of russet or all over the place. So it depends on the particular variety. Like Roxbury russet is not one of those that is like an all over russet compared to golden russet. Very interesting. I had no idea.
Okay, so, the second question was info on Franklin.
Now, that's not a cultivar I've heard of. the question Michael asks is, this a culinary or cider apple? I've grown Franklin, and to me it's a culinary apple, but I don't see any reason that you couldn't use it for cider. It just depends. I don't believe it has any tannin structure, which would be one of the things you would normally like to blend with an apple like that.
So, I would say you could use Franklin for either. but to me, it's a culinary apple. I like Franklin. It's a nice, it's a nice variety. There are probably five April apples known by Franklin. So I guess it depends which one. Oh, Speaking of, that's around, is what I consider a culinary apple.
Well, and that's an interesting question.
Of all these varieties we're talking about, if people are growing them, they still exist. But in your book, there must be many varieties that you cannot get anymore. Is that the case? Yeah, very much so. Would you say most of the varieties that you write about are unavailable and lost forever?
Well, let's say unavailable, but we're not going to say that they're lost forever. We are rediscovering old varieties every year, and that's wonderful. We're on a limited amount of time. A lot of these really old great varieties that say we're around in 1850. Boy, they're getting tougher and tougher to find anymore.
So it's looking for those old trees that we hope that we may still run across some of these really old varieties that had such wonderful appeal. And, the things that our ancestors made recipes and did things with, just to have that experience of what they were tasting. Very interesting.
Okay, let's keep going. We've got Rich, Rick Grimes from Pennsylvania writes, I grow a number of varieties of limber twig apples and was wondering if he, if you have a favorite fresh eating limber twig. Really? That's a good name. Yeah, there are over a hundred different kinds of limber twig apples I've been able to find, over a hundred, and then there's other apple, those are the ones that have the name limber twig in them.
There are others that are seedlings of sparger, which is a limber twig seedling, and so do you call it a limber twig or do you call it sparger? so that's one of the things you run across. There are a lot of good, I've had just the good old fashioned red limber twig. And I like that it's, a nice apple.
There are others that I think are supposed to be really special. Victoria limber twig and Ashford and a couple of others, that I think we're supposed to be pretty decent. I've grown 36 different ones and I'm still waiting for all of them to start fruiting. So that's, I guess I'll have to withhold judgment until I've had them all.
And so limber twig, is it from a place called limber twig? Nope, it's just the way it bears on the tree. It, it's known to have, it's more of a tip bearer. limber twigs typically come from, Tennessee, southern states. That's where they all seem to come from, mostly is, in the area around Tennessee.
The Great Smoky Mountains was home for a lot of different limber twigs. and Henry Morton, from, Gatlinburg, Tennessee was one who really was cultivating the limber twigs. He would search through the Smoky Mountains and find all these homesteads that were still raising apples as it was turning into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and trying to rescue some of these varieties.
And he was a reverend, but his passion was apples and he collected quite a few. I've got one of his old catalogs and, he passed away just when I was starting to get interested in apples. So we're looking for a couple of different kinds. Sequatchie limber twig is one I'm, I really would love to find.
That's a particular Valley in Tennessee. Amazing. Okay, so let's keep going. So that was Rick. Now Ross. Ross McKenzie, hazelnut grower from southern Ontario. Looking to grow some apples as well. Thank you for tuning in, Ross. Hopefully we're giving you some fun ideas.
We've got Young Eun is writing, Hello Susan and Dan.
I have a question regarding apples. I hope Dan can provide me with some insight. Ah, I have a mild allergy to apples. I say mild because sometimes I do and sometimes I don't, depending on the type of apple I eat. Would your experience and instant instinct be inclined to say that may have to do with the variety of apple that I come across, or might there be other factors involved, such as chemicals in the coating of the apples?
Wow. Yeah, there are people that have allergies to apples. not necessarily all apples, but I think it depends, on the particular makeup. whether it's a sharp flavored apple is there's an enzyme that's in there. I suppose that it's supposed to be, some people are sensitive to, and I guess it's a, I wish I could say this apple is good.
This apple isn't, but I think it's a matter of a personal experience, which I understand it may be difficult and uncomfortable, but you'll find You might find that sweeter apples are less disruptive to your system than tart apples. So perhaps, find those that you like and try to stay with that type if you can find them.
I want to agree, actually. And by the way, it's Grace. Grace from Ohio. so, no, for Grace, I agree with what you just said, Dan. Actually, I've noticed for myself, when I have certain types of tart apples, I do get an upset stomach and sweet ones. I don't. so that's something to try. And also I knew a woman who had a beautiful orchard, 10, 000 trees.
She loved apples and she developed an allergy after, and this was all organic. She developed an allergy after I don't know how many years. So she couldn't eat her own apples for years. And she said it did pass after a few years. She could eat apples again, but I'm like, Oh, having all these fantastic apples there would be so sad.
Okay. So that was grace. Thank you for that fabulous question. Elaine's. Oh, I don't want to miss. I think Brandon here has another question. Momento. I'm not sure if you're Brandon writes the rain at russet, a sport of king of the Pippins. Seems to be resistant to scab and blight. I have had this apple before and it is my number one apple.
Raynette Russet. Do you enjoy that one as well? Yeah, I'm really fond of its parrot, King of the Pippins, if that's the case. that's a great apple. Really it is. So, Raynette Russet is another one of those Russet apples that I think is going to be, really popular. People just knew more about it.
Elaine writes here, I'm from, New Brunswick, Canada. Where can I buy old tree varieties, or do I need to find rootstock and cuttings? So, Elaine, I'll answer that one. We have some fabulous fruit tree nurseries here in Canada, and you can't order from the United States. It's very hard to ship trees over the border.
But if you go to orchardpeople. com and in the search box, search for nursery, I have a list of fruit tree nurseries across Canada and the United States. And you'll find out that there are a couple of nurseries like Silver Creek, which was in the commercials, which didn't somehow play in today's show. Whiffle Tree Nursery and in New Brunswick, you guys have nurseries as well.
so check that out. Blaine. Also writes here Blaine from Western Washington saying, Hey,
John says the loss of heritage varieties breaks my heart. Are there any programs running to preserve these varieties? Oh, absolutely. the Heritage Fruit Group, which I mentioned before, being from Washington State University, is working with collectors like myself and others all around the country and even into Canada to try to find, identify old varieties and try to identify what they are, but identify them out in the field, like where are old trees existing?
Can we, have an idea, if there Endangered or soon to be cut down. because we're trying to teach people then to be able to send cuttings, or a snips of those leaves, as we mentioned before, to, to have identified or if you're worried about an old tree dying is learning how to graft fruit trees.
It's so easy to do. And I know your book that just came out. Susan on grafting is going to be very helpful in that regard. I teach a lot of different grafting classes. I've taught Thousands of people how to graft, over the years. I think I've taught for over 37 years now and it's a lot of fun and it's really, it's what I would say, encourage you to do because you may not be able to find the varieties you want to grow at a particular nursery, but if you find a variety out in the field someplace or a friend has it in their backyard, you want to grow it, learn to craft.
It's so easy. Oh, I am so excited about grafting, I'll tell you, and thank you for mentioning my, new book, which is coming out in January, and I want to say, it's up to us, isn't it? It's up to us as growers to say, on the whole, I recommend people, when I teach them on my online courses, I recommend people go for disease resistant varieties as much as possible, especially new, growers or people who only have one tree in the backyard in limited amount of time.
But really, we do need to also include, if we've got room for more than one tree, or if we're grafting on branches, let's use some of these amazing old cultivars, and we can keep them going. Because it just offers so much beautiful, delicious diversity. I'll interject this also. If you find an old tree that has obviously been around for 100 years, it's got something going for it.
And it may not have that much problem growing, otherwise it wouldn't be there. So if you're finding an old tree out in the wild, it may be a wonderfully, disease resistant tree or the environment that it is has enough beneficials to also counter the insects that like to eat on apples. So John, thank you for that question and bringing that up, in the conversation, I was a grace or somebody else was asking about fruit tree nurseries.
So Don is recommending Silver Creek nursery in Ontario. John says he's bought many trees from Silver Creek. And Elaine is looking for Rhode Island greening. That's one of the ones that she wants to plant. just a few more comments here. David is in New Bruns David writes, In New Brunswick, heritage apple trees are available from Corn Hill Nursery.
Okay, yes, that's the nursery I was thinking of. So that's right in New Brunswick. Very, handy. Howard writes, I plan to grow pie trees that would have three varieties that would mature at the same time with the characteristics bitter, acidic, and sweet. that's interesting. What a good idea. Yeah.
That sounds like fun. Okay. Kevin is also mentioning Salt Spring Apple Company in BC has Scionwood. Yeah. And I've been there by the way. Really beautiful place to visit. excuse me.
And then Howard says, I find, oh, suggestions for apples maybe that make good pies. Do you have any favorite pie apples?
One of the early ones that I like a lot is Duchess. That's just a, that's just a great apple. Duchess of Oldenburg, as it's known. it's a German slash Russian variety that came to the states around 1817. it's a really great apple. I love it for pies. My mother was a home ec teacher and she taught her son's debate considering a dubious employment or marital prospects.
At least we wouldn't starve. So I've learned to make a pretty mean apple pie and I love to mix varieties together. Those are those apples. You can tell when you have them in your hand if they're heavy. They will tend to stay firmer and in as far as keeping a slices. If you have an apple that's lighter, like a puffball mushroom, that's one that's going to make more of a sauce.
So you mix that, those two together, so you have a sauce and you got the firm slices. And if you can get a red fleshed apple, then you have wonderful color. So your pie is really attractive as well as tasty. Oh, that is such a great idea to mix the saucy apples with the firm apples. I really love that. now in the conversation here, so Bingham Cider and Nursery is talking to Grace, and saying, I've known people that have had an allergic reaction to Empire apples.
So there may be certain varieties. Otherwise, washing with water and baking soda can remove most residues and then rinse well. we've got Memento saying O'Keeffe Grange is an ideal spot if you are in Ontario. Oh my gosh, at O'Keeffe Grange Orchard, Dan, there are 600 different varieties of apples.
It's a wonderful place if you, for people to visit. I have been there. Dawn says Duchess was one of her father's favorite apples. And wealthy Winesap Courtland, Wolf River, and McIntosh are great for an apple pie assortment. So if somebody wants to graft an apple pie tree, Those are some really, great options.
So I, I want to say in the chat box, we're going to wrap up the show, believe it or not, in a couple of minutes, but in the chat box, if you are still listening, did you guys enjoy this as a YouTube live? I did it because I love doing a live show because reality radio is just off air at the moment.
But, maybe I can do it. simultaneously on YouTube Live if this is fun for you? Or are you guys just attending because it's Boxing Day and it's a nice relaxing day? Or is it because Dan is such a wonderful draw as a guest? That is also a big possibility. But it's been so wonderful to have everybody here.
Now, Dan, can you share with the listeners how people can find out more about you, how people can order the book? I see that it's on a very good special at the moment, the books. So tell me a little bit how people can find out more. they can contact jackkawpress. com, j a k a w press. com, and they'll get to the website and you can get information about the app, about the book, and ordering it and such.
I guess if you want to write to me, I'm always happy to talk apples to anybody, anytime. It's always fun. So please do. I encourage that. Well, Dan, thank you so much for coming on the show today. And, it has been really fun to have you on. People's questions have been amazing. There's some good ones.
Yeah. We had some really good questions today. And What I'm trying to cultivate and grow is a beautiful, interactive community of people who love fruit trees. And I'm trying to find ways where we can all connect and support each other. So if YouTube is a helpful place for all of us to connect and get experts to answer our questions, that would be great.
So a couple of people here, Grace says, thank you. Bingham Cider and Nursery. Oh yes. Momento. Okay. Yeah. So Grace loved it. Mary says live chat great and Dan is a definite draw. You're a rock star, Dan. And Valerie, one more question from Valerie. Question for Dan. Are you familiar with the old apple variety Salome or Salome?
I have just acquired one. Oh, good choice. Nice apple. I like that apple. It has this beautiful bluish blush to it. it has that, frosty look to it. It's a great apple, from, from Illinois. It's a good one. You'll like it. Fantastic. Okay, great. All right, guys, that, we are going to say goodbye for the time being.
Now, for those of you listening to this episode, I'm going to be putting together a video version. So I will put in images of many of the apples that we discussed. So you just need to go to the Orchard People podcast playlist. You can watch this again with the images. you can also watch or listen to other shows, that I have created other podcasts, so that's what the Orchard.
People YouTube channel. I, if you like audio, you can go to Apple podcasts or your local podcatcher and subscribe. So currently the show is called the urban forestry radio show. Soon it will be called orchard people. So go find it and subscribe. Make sure you get notified when there are new shows. Finally.
Let's keep in touch. Go to orchardpeople. com slash sign up and I'll send you guys notices of upcoming podcasts of new articles on my website of new courses including a course on fruit tree grafting and webinars and all sorts of good stuff. So thanks again, Dan. We'll see you next time. Take care. Yeah.
And bye everybody. Bye for now. And I'll see you guys again next month. Take care and happy new year, everybody. Bye for now.