Varieties-The Spice Of Life

We are picking our first fresh eating apples of the season this week, Gingergold and Paulared. This marks the official start to the fall apple harvest, even though it is still August. It’s good to be able to crunch into a fresh tasty apple right off the tree again! Nothing compares to that!


As the fall goes on. I often keep track of time by counting how many varieties we have harvested, and how many we have left to go. It seems to start out slowly and pick up the pace with each successive week. We grow 26 different kinds of apples here, and every week I mentally check off the ones we’ve finished and look ahead to whats next. It struck me the other day that while all of our trees blossom over the course of 10 days or so in the spring, the harvest begins with the first apples in late July and ends with the last around November 1. That is over three months difference from the first to the last! How do they know? I purposely planted a row of Lodi (the first ones picked) next to a row of Granny Smith ( the last ones) a few years ago. So when we pick Lodis in July I always look over and wonder what takes those Grannys so long?Another of life’s mysteries I guess.


Apples are pretty amazing really. There are now over 7,500 varieties grown around the world! About a hundred of these are grown commercially in the U.S.A., although thousands of others are grown here too. However the only apples native to this country are crab apples. It is said that the Pilgrims planted the first apple trees in North America. Others were brought here from overseas, or developed here since then. And every year new varieties are created or discovered! It’s hard to keep track of them all, so the best thing to do is find a few you like and stick with them. Until the next one comes along……


When I was a kid, I can remember dad picking Sweet Boughs, Winesaps, Snow Apples and Grime’s Golden apples. Others too, the names escape me now. Those have come and gone, and been replaced by Gala, Honeycrisp, Zestar!(the exclamation point IS part of the name, really!) and Mutsu. It’s a job just coming up with an original name for an apple these days. But harvest season remains the same. Start with the first ones and work your way through to the last. And along the way, take some time to sample them all fresh from the tree and savor the differences. Because on the journey from blossom to fruit they all develop distinct differences, tastes and qualities. I guess that is true of all of us.

Have a fruitful week!

Tom Moelker


7 thoughts on “Varieties-The Spice Of Life

  1. Another old variety was the Baldwin apples. Our tree growing up was over 60 ft wide and more than 2 stories tall. (Proof – our lot was 60 ft – it went tip to tip and my brother would put a double extension ladder up it in the tree and extend it. Never could reach the top.) It was also a every other year crop – feeding the whole Huizen Ave one year and the next year hardly a bushel!
    We had a Hawthorn tree (that I planted about 25 years ago) and it provides lots of pretty red fruit for birds through the winter.


  2. Sandra Talsma

    Another interesting blog from you! I was wondering while I read this how accurate you could be by tasting apples with a blindfold and being able to guess what apple you were eating from the taste alone or the taste and feel of the apple.


  3. Sandy V

    I have a friend who lives in the Halifax Nova Scotia area and in the fall always talks of her love of Gravenstein apples….for eating, baking, etc. It’s a variety I’ve never heard of before and from the little bit I’ve researched, don’t think it’s grown around here. Are you familiar with the variety and if so, could you share what a comparable variety might be? I have my own favorites, but would still be interested to know what it might be similar to in texture, flavor, etc., if there is anything that is a fair comparison, that is.


    1. Gravenstein is a very old variety. I don’t know of anyone in the area that grows them, but I’m sure that some backyard orchardist may have them. They would be quite early in Michigan–probably late July or early August. From what I can tell about the flavor possibly Graham Spy would be similar or Jonagold. But having never actually tasted one I can’t be sure.


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