All babies are cute, right? Well, just about, anyway. Baby rodents are kinda creepy-looking; like something out of a Dr. Who episode.
But baby fruits are definitely waaay cute and so full of promise. They start out as lovely blooms, and in no time at all are cute little mini-fruits as pictured here: fuzzy baby peaches, shiny baby plums, perfect round little Asian pears, and slightly fuzzy mini-apples.
In another month or so, these cute little babes will go through their gawky adolescent phase. They’ll be not quite as cute, and they’ll be a bit tart and sassy. We bide our time, waiting patiently ’til we can chow down. In the midst of a drool-fest dreaming of biting into a ripe juicy peach, one can feel rather vulture-like…hovering over the babies…waiting…and waiting…until, YUM!
Meanwhile, all through the baby and adolescent stage, we’ll try our best to help them towards a successful outcome. We’ll protect them from what diseases we can, and we’ll try our best to discourage the wrong crowd (ie. nasty insect pests) from hanging out with them. Some issues we’ll have no control over but will do our best to help them through the challenges, such as pockmarks from acne (i.e. hail) or the losses of their friends (via hurricane-force winds).
No matter what strikes or challenges, we will continue to love and nurture them as they continue their journey to adulthood. Most of our babies and adolescents will become fine, upstanding adults. And some…a select few…will be absolutely outstanding in their fields.
And then we eat them. (You know this analogy had to stop somewhere)
The beauty of orcharding is we get to go through these stages of hope, nurturing, and development every year. But we don’t have to pay for the little dears to go to college.
1. Pick up this year’s Gold Rush Rush order (order here if you haven’t already)
2. Take and then submit your ONE favorite happy-time Gold Rush photo
Get creative; this photo could be any number of fun, silly, or delicious-looking things:
-A car filled to the gills with your happy family exhausted from loading it!
-A kid (of ANY age!) merrily munching one of “The Best Apples on the Planet”!
-A shot of your prize-winning hard cider bubbling away in a 5-gallon carboy!
-Your favorite Thanksgiving pie with everyone fighting over the last piece!
Hey, whatever! If it’s got Gold Rush apples or Gold Rush cider in it, submit it!
Rules: 1. Take pictures with Gold Rush apples or cider as your theme, then choose your favorite ONE photo.
2. Email your photo, by December 1st, to Lisa@northstarorchard.com (note: you agree that any photo submitted we may use on our website, in an email newsletter, or post online elsewhere, although for privacy we will not identify you by name if we use the photo)
We will judge all the entries in December and we will notify and announce the winners before Christmas.
Three runners-up winners will be sent a special, limited edition canvas totebag and one of our funky-cool tie dye North Star tshirts!
One Grand Prize Winner will receive the tote bag and tshirt, as well as Gold Rush next year – up to 2 bags of apples and 4 gallons of cider!
(Who will be the judges, you might ask? Well, we the farmers, of course!
After a long hard work season, we’ll be happy to sit down with some hot cider and pie and take a look at some of your awesome pictures!)
There may not be much more to be said about Gold Rush that you don’t know already, but we’ll give it a try with a bit of interesting history….
Gold Rush is a variety out of the Purdue Rutgers apple breeding program (using natural plant sex methods, NOT GMOs!).
The breeder decided to discard Gold Rush because it ripens too late in the season, so most growers would not be able to deal with it.
However, the assistant to the breeder loved the apple and, using buds from the original tree, saved Gold Rush from the dump heap!
Over time, more and more people discovered and fell in love with Gold Rush, and so ta da…here we are!
However, it does still ripen very late in the season. We often do not finish picking them until the second week of November. So frost (and late-season massive hurricanes!) can be a major concern. Because of this, many growers who do have Gold Rush pick them in October when they are still too green. You may see green Gold Rush here and there from those farms. Of course, if Gold Rush is picked green, it doesn’t taste like much of anything but green apple. It also does not keep for months like the properly-ripe apples do.
We want Gold Rush that taste mighty fine (ok, we’re a bit selfish here…because that’s what WE want to eat!). So we take the risk, year after year, and let Gold Rush get properly ripe. Some years it’s no problem, and other years we have send a lot of the apples to the ‘seconds’ bin due to cracking from frost or too much rain.
But we feel good, ripe Gold Rush are worth their weight in gold…so enjoy!
(PS. We are also using Gold Rush as a parent in our own apple breeding projects, so you may very well see some delicious Gold Rush offspring coming along in a few years!)
This is a great undiscovered, never-to-be-appreciated except by North Star Orchard fans kind of apple.
It has an excellent, sweet flavor and very juicy and crisp. Around here, we like these way better than Honeycrisp, both for its eating qualities and tree growth habit. It will never be a ‘commercial’ variety because it bruises much too easily, which is a bummer because otherwise, Honeycrisp would be in BIG trouble! It doesn’t have the funny off-, sometimes bitter flavor Honeycrisp does. It’s sweet without being too sweet and the juice and crunch qualities are awesome.
Besides the bruising factor, the other “strike” against it, from a consumer standpoint, is the yellow color. Over the years, most folks have gotten tired of eating absolutely ho-hum flavorless Golden Delicious, which has made them completely balk from buying yellow apples. But at our stand, you need not judge an apple based on its color or on your previous less-than-satisfactory yellow-apple-buying experiences.
So, poor Stellar is nearly doomed except for trees that thrive in a few small orchards like ours because we can appreciate their fine qualities. These are fantastic for fresh eating and they make great no-sugar-needed applesauce as well. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
Winecrisp is a complex, crunchy, sweet, and very hard apple with a fruity sweet flavor (with hints of berry!) and a beautiful dusky red skin.
When we planted this new variety, it was simply known as Co-op 31 (the poor nameless thing). We only planted one tree, just to try it out. With the first apple, came our “Wow!”….so we planted a lot more of them.
We couldn’t let them remain nameless, however, so we dubbed them “Emperor” (we are challenged in the naming department, but that’s what we came up with). A few years later, the breeder named them “Winecrisp”, which of course is an infinitely better and much more appropriate name; why didn’t we think of that?
Farmer Ike says of Winecrisp: “It is just a damned fine apple!”
So try one (or three or more) this week, and see why!
These are primarily for fresh eating. They are not-too-sweet and not-too-tart, have a great flavor and crunch, and they’re quite juicy. We think they have the quintessential apple flavor and texture. Most everyone just loves these striped beauties!
And now, for a bit of trivia: We named these Sugar Snap right away (it was love at first bite). They’re known, in the orcharding world, sadly and simply as NY-74840-1. They were discarded from the NY apple breeding program as not being a suitable ‘commercial’ variety: the color is too variable, and they develop some russeting and sometimes cracking, none of which suits the wholesale market. But here at North Star, you know we have NO problem with any of those issues. We say bring on the FLAVOR!!
Smile! This is one happy apple. Well, it did had a little help from Lisa to look that way, but still.
Many fruits develop their own protective waxy coating, called ‘bloom’. That’s what you often see on grapes and plums. You don’t often see it on apples, since they get polished up in a brusher machine before they come to you. Varieties like Sugar Snap exhibit a lot of bloom, so sometimes we like to play with our food before we even pick it!
Too bad the rest of the world won’t get the opportunity to munch on these. But for you North Star apple aficionados, it’s time to dig in!
When you think ‘apple’, what pops into your mind’s eye?
I can just see it – a dark red, shiny, large fruit…perhaps sitting on the top of a bountiful fruit bowl, the sunlight streaming through the kitchen window reflecting off its polished surface.
Now hopefully those of you who have been our customers or CSA members for awhile might have a different vision! But I bet even a lot of you still picture a nice big red apple, even if it’s not so polished with wax that it gives off it’s own light.
So, where did this come from? How did our vision of the apple get to be this way?
It wasn’t always that way. Until the 20th century, apples were so different that there may have been no standard thought of ‘apple’. In fact, there were very few apples which were colored in such a way that you’d call them red. Most times, they were various shades of green, yellow, and red – sometimes on a single apple! Then again, some were so russeted you’d be hard-pressed to tell what color they were. (This paragraph is sounding suspiciously like the mix of varieties we have in our orchard, isn’t it?)
Ok, so back to red apples. How’d it get started? You guessed it – Red Delicious. The account of the discovery of Red Delicious has been passed around for a few generations. It is, by now, starting to sound like ye olde traditional American Tall Tale. Here it goes:
Round about 1870, in the youngish state of Iowa, there lived a farmer by the name of Jesse Hiatt. He was an orchardist by trade, and kept a fine orchard filled with the best there was to offer at the time. Now, Jesse tried his best to keep things neat and tidy on his farm, and made sure his orchard rows were straight and true.
One year, he found there was a seedling tree growing in his orchard. This little seedling had two things going against it. Firstly, it was a seedling, which meant there was no way of knowing what type of apples it might produce. They might be good, or they might not even be fit for cider-making. Secondly, it was out of the line with the rest pf the row! This was perhaps the more important consideration for Mr. Hiatt, who quickly cut it down.
The following year, Jesse found that the seedling he had cut down had regrown. He considered it for a moment, but as the seedling was still not part of his nice, straight orchard rows, he cut it down again.
The third year, to his astonishment, the same seedling was up again. Good, upstanding Quaker Mr. Hiatt relented, saying, “If thee must live, thee may.”
A few years later, this rogue tree produced fruit the likes of which Jesse hadn’t tasted before. He started quietly promoting the variety on his own for the next 11 years; trying to get other orchardists to plant it.
Stark Nurseries (a tree nursery that is still in business today) held a yearly fruit contest (the apple industry in this country still being fairly young, this was a way in which they could discover new varieties to add to their collection of nursery stock). Jesse entered his now favorite apple, sending off a barrelful to the event (apples back then were packed in barrels). Jesse Hiatt’s fruit won, but the barrel his fruit was in had become separated from its ID tag, so the owner of the winning apple that year could not be found.
The following year, Jesse decided to ship off another barrel to the contest, hoping that it would win that year (of course he didn’t know of his apple’s success the previous year). This time, the barrel and its ID stayed connected. Upon judging the (again) winning fruit, the President of Stark Nurseries exclaimed, “My that’s ‘Delicious’ – and that’s the name for it!” For years Mr. Stark had retained the idea of the name ‘Delicious’ for a fruit worthy of the title, and here it was! Stark quickly bought the propagating rights from the aging Jesse Hiatt.
From then on, Red Delicious took off. Everyone was thrilled with the apple, and many millions of trees were planted over the next few decades. Later, apple breeders took over, coming up with bigger and, more importantly to them, redder strains of the fruit. Over time, both customers and many growers started to think of apples as ‘red’. There was so much excitement over Red Delicious, in fact, that Stark Bros. Nursery named the next ‘big variety’ Golden Delicious, hoping to relate the new variety to Red Delicious in the minds of consumers. Never mind the fact that Golden Delicious is not in any way related to Red Delicious – it was all a marketing ploy.
In the meantime, some people waxed poetic about both Jesse Hiatt and his tree. A veteran horticulturist, Frank Femmons, said “Jesse Hiatt – no earthly hero of war and conquest ever bequeathed such rich inheritance to the world. His name and the benefit he conferred upon mankind should be engraved, not only on the memory of time, but chiseled on an enduring pedestal beside the old parent tree that grew from out of his loving care.” What a tribute, indeed! That original tree, by the way, stood until the mid-1960’s.
I’d be interested to try one of those original Red Delicious. I’m really curious – was it really that great? Maybe it was, compared to other apples that were available at the time. Maybe it was delicious, beautiful, and a good producer. Today, however, the Red Delicious strains are so awful that we won’t allow a single one of them on our farm. The breeders came up with ‘bigger and better’ strains (i.e. bigger, redder, more productive), but in the process all the flavor was lost. I have heard some veteran folks admit that Red Delicious in ‘the good old days’ were good, but that they aren’t anymore.
Yet, the thought still persists in people’s minds – apples are red. Unfortunately, those particular red apples don’t taste very good at all. I was disenchanted with apples when I was a kid; I really didn’t like them all that much, until I found other varieties. There are kids and adults today who don’t like apples, for the same reason I suspect. How unfortunate that something that was so (evidently) beautiful and tasted great, has been reduced to a variety that is so poor in flavor that it is turning people off to apples completely, and putting orchardists out of business.
Of course, WE all know that apples aren’t ‘red’. Mr. Stark might turn over in his grave if he knew that there’s a contingent of folks out here in PA whose favorite apples have stripes, speckles, and are every shade of green, yellow and red. Some of our particular favorites, in fact, are the russeted varieties whose skin look more like potatoes than apples (that’s Golden Russet and Adams Pearmain)! Let’s hope others figure out that there are more to apples than ‘red’ also!
What does ‘apple’ conjure in your brain?
From 1922: Professor C.I. Lewis, Editor of the American Fruit Grower:
“The Delicious apple represents the crowning point of achievement in the origination of American varieties. No variety has been originated which is superior to the Delicious in quality; few can equal it in production. It is one of the best known varieties which we have, and rightly so, for its large size, its beautiful color, its delicious aroma and quality. In the origination of the Delicious, a high standard has been set for us in the development of future varieties. Gradually some of the older varieties are slipping by the wayside.”
Farmer Ike has planted many hundreds of varieties on the farm, and it’s about time we get to hear about thehows and whys behind some of them.
Here’s this week’s pick:
Golden Supreme Apple: Sweet with a nice medley of fruit flavors. Crisp, crunchy, and juicy. A delight to eat for this time of year. They would also make a nice applesauce without the need of much sweetener.
It is believed to have been a chance seedling discovered in Idaho. Farmer Ike became interested in it after reading about various taste trials it has gone through at university fruit breeding stations. We tried a few trees and liked it, so we planted a lot more, and this is our first large crop of them.