Author Topic: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers  (Read 756 times)

Offline AmandaK

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Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« on: December 17, 2013, 01:36:46 PM »
So in buying a house, I've acquired a good size lot as well. There is a ton of room to plant a lot of things, so I'm investigating what I want to plant/grow over the winter.

Of interest now is cider apple trees.

Has anyone actually planted cider apple trees in their backyard and want to give me some advice? I'm looking at dwarf trees, probably around 8-10 of them. Maybe some Dabinett, Kingston Blacks and a Black Oxford or two?

I'm in USDA heartiness zone 6A.
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Offline dbeechum

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Re: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2013, 03:41:55 PM »
Apple growing is not my greatest proficiency since I live in Southern California, but I can tell you - check out orangepippin.com and check not only your hardiness, but also your blooming periods. If you want good yield you got to have those matched up.
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Offline duboman

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Re: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2013, 03:55:36 PM »

So in buying a house, I've acquired a good size lot as well. There is a ton of room to plant a lot of things, so I'm investigating what I want to plant/grow over the winter.

Of interest now is cider apple trees.

Has anyone actually planted cider apple trees in their backyard and want to give me some advice? I'm looking at dwarf trees, probably around 8-10 of them. Maybe some Dabinett, Kingston Blacks and a Black Oxford or two?

I'm in USDA heartiness zone 6A.

I'm not a grower but have grown varieties of apple trees in the past. They require a lot of work from pruning and spraying to keep them and the fruit healthy. Various varieties are susceptible to a myriad of pests and diseases.

You also have to keep in mind that lots or critters, bees and wasps really enjoy the fruit once they start to ripen. Invasions in the backyard are not always pleasant;)

Assuming you have an extension service in KC I would start there. Apples are big in MI as well so you could try their extension service as well, lots of cider people in that state!
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Offline Jeff M

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Re: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2013, 07:37:03 PM »
If you are going to do apples are you going to become a beekeeper as well?  Home grown honey sure would be nice;)
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2013, 07:43:08 PM »
Zone 5a here.  I will admit, I have not tasted a lot of cider apples yet.  However, I have spent many hundreds of hours researching cider and cider apples, and I have tasted over 100 old heritage varieties over the past 3 years (mostly eaters and cookers, not really for cider).  I've also planted a small orchard in my yard, played around with grafting... I now have 5 varieties on one of my trees!  What can I say... it's been somewhat of an obsession, and I just love to learn new things.  Now back to your cider questions:

Kingston Black, in particular, is an excellent and well known apple for cider, and I now know that it is also delicious to eat -- I got my hands on some this year, ate several fresh but made a single varietal cider out of most of them.  Drawbacks with Kingston Black are that it is an extremely shy bearer and susceptible to diseases/infections such as scab.  Beautiful and tasty little apple though -- I think you really must give it a shot.

Dabinett and Yarlington Mill are some more must-haves.  I've not tasted these yet but many swear by their quality, and they are both said to be very productive and less susceptible to disease.

The above are all good old English cider apples.  However there are also quite a few great American varieties that I have tasted.

Arkansas Black is tart and spicy with wonderful flavor -- an American bittersweet apple.  It is also a great keeper.  You can keep a few in your refrigerator for eating for 4-5 months or maybe longer.

Liberty is a good base tart style apple with excellent disease resistance.  Press it quickly, though, as it goes mushy in a short time.

Wealthy is a great old American apple that is as juicy as it is delicious to eat.  It is well balanced but slightly more on the tart side.  It is also a good keeper for eating or baking or cider or whatever -- great all-purpose apple.

It might sound really obvious, but... you really just can't go wrong with Honeycrisp.  It is truly one of the most juicy and delicious apples ever known, and can contribute significantly as a base in cider.  You might not want to make a single varietal cider of it as its flavor is not terribly complex, but with all its sugar and juice it will help jack up the volume and original gravity.  Plus you can eat some as well, and not have to spend $3 or $4 per pound!  It keeps a long time.

Finally, be sure to throw in a couple of crabapples.  I've planted Dolgo for this purpose.  It is quite tart.  A lot of people like Wickson which is a sweeter one.  I am also knowledgeable of a local crab known as Yarwood, which is a tasty and juicy little apple that is well balanced between sweetness and sharpness.  But really, any random crab variety will help in your orchard as well as your cider making.  Crabapples help significantly with pollination of all the other trees.  In general they will contain more acid and tannin than the standard culinary or cider apple, as well as flavors all their own, which will add interesting character to your cider.

Another excellent resource for information on English apples can be found on YouTube -- look up stephenhayesuk and watch some of his videos.  This guy is awesome, very knowledgeable.  His Fruitwise website also has good information, see here: http://www.fruitwise.net/varieties.html

Hope this gives you a few ideas!  If you have any specific questions, I'll try to answer as best I can.  Happy orcharding!
Dave

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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2013, 08:49:27 PM »
Dave gave some very good advice. The local ochard has many of those for hard cider blends.

A good sweet one is Baldwin. A bitter one is Ellis bitter. Winesap is another that gets mentioned for cider.

You might check out U MN as they are doing a lot too.

Coming to NHC? The club has put in a posterboard talk, and will have 8 ciders, different blends, same yeast and processing.
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Offline AmandaK

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Re: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2013, 06:58:02 AM »
Wow guys. I'm so glad I asked here!  ;D

Dave, that is exactly the kind of advice I am looking for. I am looking for our extension here in KC to see if I can match up the local pests/disease resistance/blooming times/kind of apples/heartiness I want so I can maximize my chance of success. I love to learn new things too, and it manifests itself in the 500 projects I have going on.  ::)

I've also just bought the book Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Sweet & Hard Cider by Annie Proulx as it has some information in there about home orchards. A club member and good friend (who is quite good at cider making) has been pointing me in the right direction as well, so hopefully we can actually make this happen!

And Jeff, I'll be at NHC this year. I'll be sure to be at that seminar!

If you are going to do apples are you going to become a beekeeper as well?  Home grown honey sure would be nice;)

Quit enabling me!  ;D
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Re: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2013, 07:03:00 AM »
If you are going to do apples are you going to become a beekeeper as well?  Home grown honey sure would be nice;)

Quit enabling me!  ;D
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Offline AmandaK

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Re: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2013, 07:07:18 AM »
If you are going to do apples are you going to become a beekeeper as well?  Home grown honey sure would be nice;)

Quit enabling me!  ;D
While you're at it. Get a cow and start making cheese. You can feed it spent grains!

I've lost count of the amount of people who have told me to get chickens. You get a decent sized yard in the 'burbs and suddenly everyone thinks you're a farmer! Ha.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2013, 07:40:59 AM »
Wow guys. I'm so glad I asked here!  ;D

Dave, that is exactly the kind of advice I am looking for. I am looking for our extension here in KC to see if I can match up the local pests/disease resistance/blooming times/kind of apples/heartiness I want so I can maximize my chance of success. I love to learn new things too, and it manifests itself in the 500 projects I have going on.  ::)

I've also just bought the book Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Sweet & Hard Cider by Annie Proulx as it has some information in there about home orchards. A club member and good friend (who is quite good at cider making) has been pointing me in the right direction as well, so hopefully we can actually make this happen!

And Jeff, I'll be at NHC this year. I'll be sure to be at that seminar!

If you are going to do apples are you going to become a beekeeper as well?  Home grown honey sure would be nice;)

Quit enabling me!  ;D
It is going to be a poster board talk, with samples. You will have to look for it. The club got 5 gallons of each blend, which is not enough for the size of the seminars these days.

That book is by the same Annie Proulx that wrote "The Shipping News" and "Brokeback Mountain".  Her books of Wyoming stories are good reads, but none of the stories have happy endings.
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Re: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2013, 07:53:10 AM »
That book is by the same Annie Proulx that wrote "The Shipping News" and "Brokeback Mountain".  Her books of Wyoming stories are good reads, but none of the stories have happy endings.
The cider book has a happier ending  ;)

It's a great book. My only complaint is that it gives beginners the impression that common cider is crap. I've known a few who really want talk about high tannin/high acid apples because they've read about that book, but then complain about the flavor of cider from those apples because they really want common cider. But they don't know it because she really doesn't address it.
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Offline udubdawg

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Re: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2013, 08:10:14 AM »
A club member and good friend (who is quite good at cider making) has been pointing me in the right direction as well, so hopefully we can actually make this happen!

HHXVI results were a fluke.  That's my bat lanyard she's got hanging up somewhere.   >:(

 ;D
Lots of good advice here.  I'm also curious as to what will grow in our neck of the woods, and what any soil testing will show.  Good luck dealing with our pests. 
Mostly I just get Winesap from the local orchards and supplement with what I can get from the NW/elsewhere up north.  And yeah, some crabapples are great.  Our local growers have been fairly willing to talk to me, but I've not pressed (heh) for much info as I'm not looking to grow at this time.

good luck!
--Michael
« Last Edit: December 18, 2013, 08:14:17 AM by udubdawg »

Offline dbeechum

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Re: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2013, 12:31:09 PM »
My only complaint is that it gives beginners the impression that common cider is crap.

That's a common problem with all the cider books out there. They all basically follow the same script: "In order to make great cider, you need great cider apples. In order to have great cider apples, you must first grow an orchard."

Hence the target audience for my cider book was in that "If you've got great apples - good! If you don't - here's how we work with what you have!"
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Offline AmandaK

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Re: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2013, 01:20:56 PM »
My only complaint is that it gives beginners the impression that common cider is crap.

That's a common problem with all the cider books out there. They all basically follow the same script: "In order to make great cider, you need great cider apples. In order to have great cider apples, you must first grow an orchard."

Hence the target audience for my cider book was in that "If you've got great apples - good! If you don't - here's how we work with what you have!"

Common cider isn't crap, IMO. It's quite tasty. I currently make it now, and I may pick up Drew's book later in life just for that reason.

But hey, if you're a tinkerer and have the space (and have the okay from the better half!), why would I not grow cider apple trees?  ;)

A club member and good friend (who is quite good at cider making) has been pointing me in the right direction as well, so hopefully we can actually make this happen!

HHXVI results were a fluke.  That's my bat lanyard she's got hanging up somewhere.   >:(
 ;D

Hey, someone's gotta keep you on your toes! ;)
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2013, 04:33:33 PM »
If you are going to do apples are you going to become a beekeeper as well?  Home grown honey sure would be nice;)

Quit enabling me!  ;D
While you're at it. Get a cow and start making cheese. You can feed it spent grains!

I've lost count of the amount of people who have told me to get chickens. You get a decent sized yard in the 'burbs and suddenly everyone thinks you're a farmer! Ha.
I like having chickens.  They eat my spent grain and give me eggs.  It's good :)

I have an apple tree but it is some unknown eating variety.  It makes good crisp and apple sauce too.  I don't even have to worry about cross pollinating, there are a lot of people with apple trees in my neighborhood.  But then this is WA.
Tom Schmidlin