Cheap eating in my future? What kind of apple trees do I have?
August 17, 2013 10:37 AM   Subscribe

What sort of apple trees do I have in my backyard? I'm in Northern California. Photos: Apple: one two, Tree: one two
posted by porn in the woods to Science & Nature (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can't say for certain what kind it is, but you might find this useful in narrowing the possibilities:
posted by veggieboy at 10:41 AM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

They're really hard to tell what kind you have, but it shouldn't be too hard to tell what to do with them.

If they're sweet and somewhat soft, treat them like your classic eaters; gold delicious, red delicious, etc.

Sweet and firm? Think Braeburn and Fuji. Again, good eaters, but pretty good at some baking applications.

Tart and firm or soft? Baking. Think Gravensteins or Granny Smith.

If they're mega bitter, you've got some prime pickings for a traditional hard cider, which is stupid easy to make and requires very little in the way of brew gear.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:56 AM on August 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Garden trees are often just random wonky no-name apples, but that looks very much like dwarf or semi-dwarf rootstock, so it's fair to assume that it's you've got a cultivar rather than a mongrel seedling. That doesn't narrow it down, because it could well be an obscure heirloom.

The other guideline to add to furnace.heart's excellent list is the time of year when the apples are properly ripe: you can compare that to the timetable of a NoCal orchard with a wide range like Philo Apple Farm. And you could also perhaps talk to a local seller of varietal apple trees.
posted by holgate at 11:12 AM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Take your pic's to Peirson's or the AG
Dept on Humbolt Hill. They can tell you for sure.
posted by cairnoflore at 12:33 PM on August 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Take your pic's

Take a few apples themselves, along with said pics.
posted by mumkin at 1:00 PM on August 17, 2013

Those look like Gordon apples, a market-uncommon but supposedly good baker. We have one in our yard and I find the apples to be a little dry. The tree is really pretty and smells wonderful in the spring.
I'm in SoCal.
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:13 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

They're sweet and firm. Skin is tough. Maybe I'm heading to Cider Town? Thanks, everyone.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:02 PM on August 17, 2013

Your photos of the trees are both the same tree. :)

The apples look like Fuji to me, but it seems just a bit early in the season for Fuji... Skin texture can depend a lot on watering regime- skins tends to be tougher during hotter times or periods of drought.

You can try the advanced search at Orange Pippin.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:27 PM on August 17, 2013

You can at least narrow them down based on your USDA zone, when they flowered and when they ripen.

Based on the size, I doubt it's some rare antique variety because that's a pretty small tree. If you're in So Cal, you can narrow your search to low-chill cultivars, while elsewhere you might need to search for winter-hardy varieties.

Once you know your zone, you can narrow the search even more to early, mid or late season varieties, and from that you can further limit the list based on when they ripen. It looks like at least on tree is ripe now, but I don't know if "now" is early or mid season for you.

If it only bears every other year, it's likely gravenstein or elstar. They're super common and only bear biennially.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:24 PM on August 17, 2013

Also most non-grocery store apples have a firmer skin. The only kind I've had off a tree that had a thin skin was golden delicious and it's friend yellow transparent.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:26 PM on August 17, 2013

I doubt it's some rare antique variety because that's a pretty small tree

There are orchards in the OP's area that sell heirloom scionwood grafted to standard rootstock, so that's a possibility.

I'd agree that it might be a Gravenstein, as that's a traditional NoCal apple, particularly around Sebastopol and Sonoma County, and it looks like the season for them is about right. They're not widely cultivated or sold these days because they have a short season and don't travel as well as the big dull varieties.
posted by holgate at 8:57 PM on August 17, 2013

Talk to your Cooperative Extension. You can't type apples from photos, and you can't just guess based on what's common around you.
posted by Miko at 9:01 PM on August 17, 2013

Find the Cooperative Extension Service in your area - this is something they can probably help with. I'd say tour tree would benefit from pruning. When I lived someplace with an apple tree, pruning it made it look really nice, and it bore more fruit of better quality.
posted by theora55 at 11:27 AM on August 18, 2013

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