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Early summer apples for Virginia

Early Transparent apple

If you aren't buying your apples from a store and are instead keeping them in a root cellar, your storage apples are going to give out by February or so, leaving you with a hankering for crisp pomes in early summer.  The first apples might ripen up as late as July (or even August) if you live in New England (or have a particularly cool, rainy year like this one), but around here they're often called "June apples" and tend to come on in late June.  June apples have a less intense flavor than later apples and they tend to keep only a few days once they're ripe, so you wouldn't want to plan a whole orchard around them, but one or two trees in your garden are a summer treat.

Yellow Transparent is the standby June apple in our area, and we've got a dwarf in our high-density planting and a semi-dwarf in the forest garden.  Thursday, Mark and I tasted the first ripe sample (from the high-density planting) and gave it top marks.  Yellow Transparent (also known as White Transparent, Russian Transparent, and Grand Sultan) wouldn't stand up against really flavorful fall apples, but it beats the kind you get in the store at this time of year and makes an excellent sauce and pie.  The trick with Yellow Transparent is to wait until the flesh turns very yellow-green, and then to pick the fruit right away before it gets mealy.

Tim Hensley, the source of several of our apples, posted the embedded youtube video this week to highlight four other early apples he recommends (along with the Yellow Transparent, which is the most popular and largest).  Henry Clay (a very small, ribbed apple introduced by Starks Bros.) won his taste test, although the Red Astrachan was also noted to be richly flavored.  Lodi is an offspring of Yellow Transparent that is more resistant to fire blight, but Hensley notes that most people prefer the taste and texture of the parent apple.  Finally, Early Harvest is the very earliest apple he reviewed, with apples sometimes ripening as soon as June 1, and being sweeter than the other early apples.

We may try another early apple in our high density planting next year since it looks like the Pristine (a new, hybrid early apple) can't take the fungi in our climate.  The trick will be determining which of these early apples is as disease resistant as the Early Transparent, which seems to thrive despite our cedar apple rust and general dampness.

Is there a preferred early-apple variety in your neck of the woods?  When do the first apples near you ripen?  I'd be curious to hear if Yellow Transparent is a standby in other areas, or just around here.

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I've had Red Astrachan (at my grandmother's, and, I think, one of the trees at the Old House at the Store), and have really liked them for a summer apple. Depending on how long it takes to cut up apples for sauce, and the color skins, you may have pinkish or brownish (or even green-yellow) sauce. Never use sweetening in sauce, not needed!!

I wonder what that apple was, on the way to Abrams Falls, a fall apple, maybe a Mann apple?

Comment by adrianne Sat Jul 13 11:26:14 2013

We always had a lodi tree growing up. We never ate them off the tree though, and they would crack within a week of being picked. They were a staple though, for freezer apple sauce. We never made summer apple pies because we were always inundated around that time with late cherries, raspberries, and early peaches.

I would like to get my hands on some lodi to try out their pectin level and make some apple jelly. I LOVE pepper jelly and understand that a neutral apple (or crabapple) jelly makes a good base. That would be an interesting additional use for early lodi's, as we really only eat so much apple sauce anymore. If that worked, then it might be worth trying to slip a lodi into the orchard. I am trying to plan the next round of fruit tree acquisitions (and I have three apple rootstocks in need of grafting/topwork and two pears.) Lodi has been one variety that I've been going back and forth with.

I just got back from visiting my parents and grandparents in Eastern Washington. I came home with apricots, zucchini, new potatoes, early peaches, raspberries, and last year's venison.

Comment by Charity Sun Jul 14 14:43:22 2013

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