I picked my first Liberty apples this year, and I have to say that I’m impressed. Liberty is a great choice for the home orchard, packing a one-two punch of exceptional, sweet-tart flavor along with disease resistance.
In university trials, Liberty exhibited good resistance to apple scab, cedar apple rust, powdery mildew and fire blight.
A crispy and juicy keeper, Liberty is on my short list of great apple trees to grow organically. I’ve listed my other favorites below.
Favorites Apples: Adding Liberty to the List
The following beauty pageant of pommes is by no means comprehensive and merely represents some respectable harvests from my young orchard (where no pesticides are used).
Beni Shogun Fuji apple is one of my favorite fresh eating apples. Because Fuji needs a long growing season, and I live west of the Cascades where long summers rarely vacation, I was in search of a sport of Fuji that was better suited for cooler climates. I found Beni Shogun Fuji and I’m happy to report old Beni is a champ, weathering our cool growing season admirably. The apples were glowing red and firm as an unripe pear. A few weeks in the fridge and they mellowed into juicy little sugar bombs.
Bramley’s Seedling apple is handsdown my favorite baking apple. It’s a tree that says stand back, I’m ready to grow some great cooking apples and plenty of them–such a very heavy producer, that Bramley’s Seedling usually requires support stakes to keep the overloaded limbs from breaking. Apples are big, firm, crisp and flavorful–tart for sure, and perfect for cooking or eating fresh though on the uber-tart side.
- Cameo apple had me at hello. I was willing to take a chance on this apple, not sure how well it would grow in Western Washington. You should be able to find Cameo in your produce section, so give it a try. It is a juicy, crisp fresh eating apple suitable simply for dessert. Normally cameos are more red than yellow; perhaps their light blush is in response to my fondness toward them.
Esopus Spitzenberg apple is often known as the preferred apple of Thomas Jefferson. After its first harvest, I’d have to concur it is very good and I look forward to next year’s crop when the tree has had time to mature. It’s a very firm apple that rewards you with more flavor and depth if left to mellow in a cool place for a week or two. It is not the most vigorous tree, but again it is young and seems to be a biennial producer.
Jonagold apple is an amazingly good apple in my orchard. In fact, if I could only plant a couple apple trees, Jonagold would top the list. As a cross between a Gold Delicious and Jonathan, it brings a lot of flavor to the table. It is super sweet but finishes off with a very nice tartness. Fresh eating or cooking up a storm, this is my prize pick for best apple this year. More from WSU extension.
York is one of those apples that tastes like it has a history (and it does). Discovered in 1830 in York, Pennsylvania, the apple enjoys a subtle flavor and appealing, firm texture. While not overly sweet, York is an apple I could eat everyday, whether or not it actually did keep the doctor away. Big and lop-sided usually, it’s also a very good baking apple.
That’s about it for now, but I have a couple other newly planted varieties I’ll be reporting on later, including Calville Blanc, Hudson’s Golden Gem, Gold Rush and Ashmead’s Kernel.
Here are some related links you may be interested in.
Apple Tree Nurseries
- Burnt Ridge Nursery: “…offering many different disease resistant apples on a variety of rootstocks.”
- Fedco Nursery: a great source for heirloom apples, available mail order
- Grandpa’s Orchard: “…allowing the backyard fruit grower to order online and purchase the most proven disease resistant, antique, heritage, unique, and common bareroot fruit tree varieties on dwarf, semi-dwarf, semi-standard and standard rootstocks.”
- One Green World: “…a family-owned nursery now located in Portland. Our plants are grown by Northwoods Nursery, our mother company, on our 66 acre farm in Oregon’s fertile Willamette Valley.”
- Trees of Antiquity: “…growing and shipping organic fruit trees across the country for over 30 years”
(I’ve ordered from all of these with complete satisfaction.)