Local Apples You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

We all have our favorite, tried-and-true apple varieties—everyone loves a good Cortland or Mac. But during apple season, when fresh, local apples are coming in by the bushel, it’s time to spread our wings and try something new.

Thanks to Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont, we’ve got a few apples in the Market you may not recognize. The orchard at Scott Farm was planted by the Holbrook family in 1911. Today the historic farm, managed by lifelong apple enthusiast Zeke Goodband, has 130 heirloom and unusual apple varieties. Zeke’s quest for old varieties has taken him to abandoned orchards throughout New England.

Take a bite out of apple history. Here’s the story behind four unique apple varieties Scott Farm delivered to the Market this week:

Hidden Rose

Aptly named, this apple has a bright pink flesh that might surprise you if you’re not expecting it. The apple was discovered in the 1960s, growing in a meadow in Airlie, Oregon. It didn’t become available to the public until the 1980s, and to this day is primarily grown in the Pacific Northwest. (Thank you, Scott Farm, for making this unique variety available to us here in Vermont.)

The apple is crunchy and slightly tart, often compared to strawberry lemonade. It looks beautiful on a cheeseboard and pairs nicely with a strong cheese. Although most people eat them out of hand, Hidden Rose apples hold up well during cooking (plus, they’re pretty), making them a good choice for pies, quiches, and crisps.

Renine de Reinette

This sweet, juicy apple was enjoyed by the upper classes in France, England, and Germany throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, before it was replaced by more eye-catching varieties. In the late 1800s, it was brought to California by a Frenchman during the Gold Rush. He opened a nursey in Nevada City, California in 1871 and started selling his favorite varieties to hungry miners. This largely forgotten apple was rediscovered in the 1970s by tree archaeologists who were looking for the best apples of the Gold Rush. They found one small group of them in an old orchard near Yorkville, California. Today, the Renine de Reinette is a favorite at Scott Farm. Its firm, juicy flesh and dessert-like flavor make it perfect for eating right off the tree.

Wolf River

This sweet-tart apple with a creamy white flesh was brought to Wisconsin around the mid 1800s by William Springer, who was traveling south from his native Quebec, Canada. He bought a basket of what is believed to have been Alexander apples along the way. When he arrived in Wisconsin, he planted a few seeds along Wolf River, and voila! The Wolf Creek Apple was born.

Known for its large size (some apples weigh as much as a pound each), the apple became a  popular variety in New England. One apple could be used to make an entire pie! They were even packed in barrels and shipped to England. A great choice for baking or as a conversation piece at your next gathering.

Blue Pearmain

The purple-blue hue of its skin gives this heirloom apple its name. First recognized around Boston in the early 19th century, this crisp, tender apple has a mild tart flavor, making it a good choice for fresh eating and baking. It is said to be one of Henry David Thoreau’s favorite apples. In his essay, “Wild Apples,” he wrote:

I know a Blue-Pearmain tree, growing within the edge of a swamp, almost as good as wild. You would not suppose that there was any fruit left there, on the first survey, but you must look according to system…. If I am sharp-set, for I do not refuse the Blue-Pearmain, I fill my pockets on each side; and as I retrace my steps in the frosty eve, being perhaps four or five miles from home, I eat one first from this side, and then from that, to keep my balance.

Stop by the Market this weekend and give these historic apples a try. Or take a field trip to Scott Farm to sample 126 other varieties.

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