Snow Sweet Apples

The name of an apple can really draw one’s attention. One of the reasons why honeycrisp is so popular is because it has crisp in it’s name (a lot of newer varieties are coming out doing the same thing like Crismon Crisp, Evercrisp, Autmn Crisp, etc). If it had some weird name like Red Bershaw (as far as I know I just made that up) it would not have the same appeal. I can admit to be attracted to apples with great names. At times when I have been faced with the choices of different heirloom varieties to try, I know if I don’t know anything about any of the apples, then name will have an effect on what I choose to try. When an apple has a name like “Snow Sweet” – that is a name that is going to garner some attention, including mine.

Speaking of Honeycrisp, Snow Sweet is an apple developed by the University of Minnesota, just like the popular Honeycrisp. Snow Sweet is a relatively new apple, only being introduced to the marketplace in 2006. Honeycrisp was introduced in 1991, but didn’t really take off until this century began. Snow Sweet got it’s name because it is slow to oxidize, so it stays whiter longer after you cut it – great quality for a salad or cut up for your child’s lunch.

Snow Sweet Apples

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 7
Tartness 4
Apple Flavor 7
Sweetness 7
Juiciness 10
Where I Bought Them Brookwood Fruit Farm (Almont MI)

Overall Feeling: If you ever wanted the perfect example of what an apple should possess to make it a great everyday, out of hand, eating experience then this is. Snow Sweet is crisp enough without being too much to chew. It is sweet, yet has enough tartness to it that you don’t real like your getting diabetes by eating it. Talk about a juicy apple, I actually had juice running down my finger and that experience is usually only reserved for peaches and the occasional pear. The flavor is just as good as everything else I mentioned. Another winning variety from the people at the University of Minnesota. I would pick at Snow Sweet any day over their Honeycrisp.

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Honeygold Apples

As far as I am concerned – yellow-skinned apples are better set aside for other varieties. A lot of us are use to store bought Golden Delicious apples that are soft, mealy, and flavorless, available year around. I am always on the look out for new yellow apples to try. Last week during my trip to New York, I made a pit stop at Sage’s Apples in Chardon, Ohio. I wanted to try one of their yellow apples – the Honeygold.

One interesting tidbit aboout the Honeygold apple is that people use to think it was one of the parents of the Honeycrisp. Seems to make sense. Both have the word “honey” in their names and Honeycrisp is part yellow itself. That was proven to be false. What is true though is that both those apples were developed at the University of Minnesota. Honeygold is a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Haralson. The goal they had in mind was to create an apple that was more cold hardy than the Golden Delicious – the mission was accomplished.

Honeygold Apples

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 7
Tartness 4
Apple Flavor 7
Sweetness 7
Juiciness 8
Where I Bought Them Sage's Apples (Chardon OH)

Overall Feeling: A big fan of this apple. It has a nice crisp texture with good flavor. It is sweet, but with enough kick of tartness to keep it interesting. Another good, yellow-skinned apple that I enjoy. When my wife had it she immediately want to try it on a salad – which is what we did that night. Sliced it up into small pieces and put it on top of some spring mix along with Trader Joe’s Spiced Pumpkin seeds, and homemade white balsamic vinaigrette. Yes, we ate salad in our hotel room, on our vacation – now that’s eating like no one else!

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Brookwood Fruit Farm

Fruit can be tricky to get at the right time. It can be hard to predict when something is going to be ripe. It changes year to year – the weather is huge factor. It can make planning a trip difficult. It’s not like being able to go into a store after Labor Day and know you can buy Christmas decorations (how crazy that thought use to be, is now common place). I wanted to pick a certain variety of apple this year, but my time is limited and only had one weekend to go to this particular orchard. Good news, bad news. Bad news, I was a little bit too early. Good news, I was able to spot pick a couple of these apples to at least try. Spot picking is when a grower selectively picks apples off a tree instead of stripping all the apples off the tree in one go around. The variety I am talking about is a Spigold – a cross between a Northern Spy and a Golden Delicious. Northern Spy is known for it’s pie quality “Spies for Pies” and Golden Delicious is known as that yellow apple that I grew up with (along with the green one and the red one).

Spigold was introduced in 1962 by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. The size of the fruit runs from medium to large. It is ready to harvest late in the season – sometime in October each year.

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 8
Tartness 6
Apple Flavor 7
Sweetness 6
Juiciness 9
Where I Bought Them Brookwood Fruit Farm (Almont MI)

Overall Feeling: Unlike the Northern Spy, the Spigold is good for out of hand eating. It is nicely balanced between tart and sweet. It is the perfect mix of it’s two parents, which doesn’t always happen when you cross two varieties together – most of the time that is not the case. It is crisp and very juicy. I read that the flavor is better when allowed to age a bit off the tree. I only had a very limited selection, may have to wait for another year to test that. It has good storage qualities and bakes well like it’s Northern Spy parent with the need for less sugar. One grower I talked with felt this was the last good baking apple released. Most of the newer varieties now aren’t as good for baking, just out of hand eating. Overall it’s a great apple to have on hand for any use. I recommend at least buying one and trying it for yourself if you come across it.

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Brookwood Fruit Farm

Do you know what your family was doing five generations ago? Most of us probably don’t have a clue and even if we did it probably doesn’t have anything to do with what we are doing now. Unless your the Bristol family, owners of Brookwood Fruit Farm in Almont, Michigan. They have been running an orchard for five generations now (the sixth generation may still be in diapers). I took a tour of their orchard and got to see and taste this history. Brookwood will be featured in the 2nd issue of “Fruits of Their Labor” – my e-magazine series those goes behind the scenes where our food is grown, and shows the challenges and the triumphs of those growers/producers. In this post I will give you a preview of this farm and why if you are nearby you should check it out for yourself.

Brookwood Fruit Farm

Pick Your Own Apples
Brookwood is a great place to come and pick your own apples. They charge $12 for a half bushel bag. They have all the familiar Michigan grown apples for picking (Jonathan, Cortland, McIntosh, Ida Red, Empire, etc.) They also have a large selection of Northern Spy apples known to be one of, if not the best baking apple (spies for pies!). Spigold, which is a cross between Northern Spy and Golden Delicious, is another apple you can pick yourself. They also have some older varieties like Rhode Island Greening, Snow, and Newtown Pippen as well as some newer varieties like Snow Sweet, Nova Spy and Crimson Crisp. Their collection includes over 40 varieties. It shouldn’t be hard to find something that you like.

Brookwood Fruit Farm

Each row is marked with a number and you can ask at the checkout desk inside what apples are in what row.

Brookwood Fruit Farm

Brookwood Fruit Farm

The Charm
The farm has a lot of charm to it. From the large clock outside the apple storage building to some old stencils with apple names on it in the inside. The staff I encountered were all very helpful and friendly. You definitely got that family vibe there. It is in very peaceful surroundings. It’s not a big circus show like some orchards have become. The fruit is center stage like it it should be.

Brookwood Fruit Farm

Brookwood Fruit Farm

When to Come
They are open during the season weekly from 9am to 5pm. They are located at 7845 Bordman Rd Almont, MI 48003. You can also finding them at the Oakland County Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. For more information visit their webpage or like them on facebook.

Below you will find a few more pictures of some of the apples, including in order Mutsu, Nova Spy, Rhode Island Greening, and Spigold. To learn more about this orchard, stay tuned for the release of Issue 2 of “Fruits of Their Labor“.

Brookwood Fruit Farm

Brookwood Fruit Farm

Brookwood Fruit Farm

Brookwood Fruit Farm

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Eastman Apple

How many varieties of apples can you name? 5, 10, 25, 100. What about 1,5000? You may ask does that many actually exist. The answer is yes. That is the number of varieties that you will find at Eastman’s Antique Apples in Wheeler, Michigan. Talk about selection. You have varieties originating all over the world from different time periods. It’s kind of like a walk through a museum. An orchard like this just had to be featured in the next issue of my e-magazine series “Fruits of Their Labor“. Today I will give you a preview of what is to come in that article.

Eastman Apple

One of the biggest questions I had about this orchard is how in the world can you keep track of all these varieties. Originally all the information was hand written. Some of the papers they were unable to read, so about 200 trees they don’t know for sure what they are. The rest have now been entered in a spreadsheet with number and row information. They have also put tags on the trees to identify the variety, although the tags can hard to find sometimes when the trees are loaded with apples.

Eastman Apple

There are two types of apples here that you typically find in most orchards. They have many varieties of crap apples. Some of them are so small, they would never even think of picking them. They have ones that are larger that they do pick and use for their hard apple cider. They also have quite the collection of red fleshed apples. The actual flesh of the apples is various shades of red. These are great for the cider as they give it an amazing color.

Here are some photos of their crap apples. One of them is so dark, it’s almost black!

Eastman Apple

Eastman Apple

Here is a picture of a Hidden Rose apple (see my variety review). This is a red flesh variety.

Eastman Apple

This picture features their “nursery” where they have their young trees growing. More red flesh varieties for cider production.

Eastman Apple

Kandil Sinap is a Turkish apple with a very unique shape. It’s tall and slender.

Eastman Apple

Eastman Apple bags

For many of the people that help to run this orchard, this is their second job. Their hours are limited to Saturdays from 2:00pm to 7:00pm. You can also find them selling their apples at the Midland Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. They bring a different mix of varieties every week – how exciting! There are also 1/2 bushel bags of apples that you can buy of mixed varieties (like in the photo above). Also if you are lucky enough to be in the Ann Arbor area (hey, that’s where I live!) you can buy some of their apples at the Produce Station. For more information on Eastman’s Antique Apples, visit their website or facebook page.

Eastman Apple

Here a few more pictures from the orchard for your enjoyment. Look at all the beautiful colors featured in this orchard. See more in Issue 2 of Fruits of Their Labor, coming soon!

Eastman Apple

Eastman Apple

Eastman Apple

Eastman Apple

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Moore Orchards

When I am looking for apple orchards to visit the one requirement I have is that they have either an apple that I really, really love or unique varieties that are hard to find, especially if I haven’t tried them yet. Well I found a gem of an orchard just outside of Midland, Michigan. I got a chance to visit them right before they open up for the season. This orchard will be featured in the 2nd issue of my e-magazine series “Fruits of Their Labor“. For now, let me give you a preview of this orchard and why if you are in the area you should visit it.

Moore Orchards

The orchard is on the property of Terry Moore. He actually lives in a home, tucked back away from the orchard. He is one of the reasons you should visit this orchard. He is the kind of guy who shakes your hand and then gives you a pat on the back. His apple knowledge is astounding. He recognizes each variety in the orchard like they were one of this children. Some of the varieties I got to see on the trees included Honeycrisp, Wolf River, Snow, Sweet 16, Thome Empire, Opalescent, Jonathan, Twenty Ounce, Golden Russett, Blushing Golden, Jonagold, Melrose (state apple of Ohio), Ida Red, Northern Spy, Spigold, Sheepnose, Hooples Antique, Wealthy, Grimes Golden, and Ozark Gold. He has quite the selection of apples, including favorites like Honeycrisp, which Terry affectionately calls “Moneycrisp” as it is bay far his top seller. He also has a wonderful selection of heirloom or heritage varieties that you will never find in the grocery store, including the extra large Twenty Ounce apple that Terry says is the best baking apple you’ll ever find.

Moore Orchards

The photo above is of some newer Honeycrisp plantings.

Moore Orchards

When Terry bought the property, he build an apple haus in front to sell apples as well as donuts, cider and caramel apples. They are located at 1727 Sasse Road in Midland Michigan. In 2015, they are open for the season, starting Friday, October 2nd from 9 to 5. They will be open every Friday and Saturday through the month of October. The apples they will have available on opening day include: Honeycrisp, Cortlands, Macintosh, Sweet Sixteen, Twenty Ounce, Snow, Jonathan, Wolf River, Pitmaston Pineapple, Gala and Golden Russet. For more information visit their website, facebook page, or call them at (989) 832-3560.

Enjoy these photos below from the orchard and watch out for the 2nd issue of “Fruits of Their Labor” featuring Moore Orchards.

Moore Orchards

Moore Orchards

Moore Orchards

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When are Gala Apples in Season

In 1930s New Zealand, J.H Kidd cross together a Golden Delicious apple and a Kidd’s Orange Red. The Gala apple was one of the results of this cross. In 1974, Donald McKenzie from Stark Bros Nursery got a patent on the apple in the United States. Ever since then this apple has made it’s way up the charts to be one of the most popular apples in the United States. People love it for it’s sweet flavor and crunch. Gala apples are available basically year round nowadays. With advanced refrigeration systems and imports in the summer, you can pretty much go to a the store anytime of year and find Galas. However the quality of those Galas will not be the same throughout the year. So there really is a season for them in which to enjoy them at their peak.

When are Gala Apples in Season?
There was two seasons in which to watch out for – domestic and imported. The domestic season kicks off in late August/early September. California grown Galas are the first to hit the market to kick off the season. California while being tops in lots of types of tree fruit aren’t nearly as big a player in the apple industry. You soon find the California Galas replaced by the Washington Galas. Washington in the number 1 apple producing state in the country. If you live in an apple producing state and most states do produce apple for commercial sales, you will should find your local Galas in stores and farmer’s market during this time. Around the middle of September you will find the most flavorful, sweet, and crisp Galas for the entire year. This is when you want to buy big. Organic is available at this time as well. You should also find sales of Galas in September.

When are Gala Apples in Season

From there things go down hill, but it’s more of a gentle decline. You can still find good Galas in October, even November. As time goes on, the crispiness of the apple declines. They don’t get as mealy as say a McIntosh apple does in time, but they lose that bite. Time doesn’t really do the flavor any favors either. Even thought you will see them in the store still, during the cold winter months I would look for other apples to buy.

As I talked about as the top of this post, Galas apple are from New Zealand. There is an ample supply of them that are imported to the United States. New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere, hence their “September” would be our March. If you got a New Zealand grown Gala in March you might get something close to that September peak in quality. Here is where the problem lies. There are enough American grown Galas in cold storage to last us almost to the start of the new season. It’s not until the heart of summer until you find Galas from New Zealand in stores, maybe a little earlier for organic. Those have been in cold storage for months, so again the quality is not at peak. These ones will seem to be better than the older domestic Galas they just replaced.

Read about the Lady Alice apple, an apple that actually improves in flavor in cold storage

Remember, September is the month for the Gala apple. Best flavor, best crunch all year. In the summer, buy New Zealand over US grown, but now they still won’t be as good as a September Gala.

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Lemonade Apples

There is nothing like biting into a tall, crunchy glass of lemonade. Wait biting into? Yes you can now sink your teeth into lemonade in all new way with the Lemonade apple. I picked up this New Zealand apple at Meijer (for $1.99/pound) in Ypsilanti, Michigan during the month of July. I saw much earlier last year in the month of May I thought I might have missed out on them this season. They are a product of the Yummy Fruit Company (what an awesome name!). The apple is a mostly yellow with some green undertones in some specimens. You will notice it has a more elongated shape.

My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)

Aspect Score
Crispiness 8
Tartness 4
Apple Flavor 6
Sweetness 6
Juiciness 8
Where I Bought Them Meijer (Ypsilanti MI)

Lemonade Apples

Overall Feeling:
In the spring and early summer it can be hard to find any good apple to eat. Most of the apples in the stores are sweet, crunchy, with little flavor. It is refreshing to have the Lemonade apple come along. It has sweet enough for out of hand eating but with enough tartness to satisfy me. It is a juicy apple. The juice seems to burst in your mouth like bubbles if you can imagine that. I can almost imagine myself drinking sparkling juice. The flavor is good, but don’t expect it to taste like lemon. The color of the apple and the tartness to it, is why the lemonade name fits.

Be careful when choosing the apple in the store. They can brush easily if not handled properly. Also if they are too bright yellow this may indicate age and that the apple is not going to be as cris

Want to learn more about the Yummy Fruit Company? Check out this video below that tells their story.

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Lady Alice apples Costco

People love Costco. I can tell just by the popularity of Costco posts on this blog. One downside to Costco for a foodie like myself is that they often don’t offer a lot of varieties of products. They give you a couple options, not the many options that standard grocery stores do. Take apples for example. Costco only sells a handful of varieties of apples – the Galas, Fujis, Honeycrisp, etc. I am not a big fan of the mainstream apples but there is only that I saw on my recent trip that is by far the best tasting apple available and that is the Lady Alice. This is a winter apple in that is it released in the winter time after spending some time in cold storage. Many apples are better when they are given some time to chill out. A Pink Lady for example is pretty harsh right off the tree (really tart) but mellows out in storage (I tried one last year at Quarry Hills Orchards in Ohio).

Lady Alice apples Costco

Costco was selling Lady Alice apples for $1.27/lb, which is a good price for this apple. Meijer stores sell them for $1.99/lb. Whole Foods was selling organic Lady Alice for $2.99/lb earlier this year.

I first posted about this apple, over 5 years ago (wow, I can’t believe my blog is that old!) and have gotten many questions about the apple, so I thought I would take some time to answer some of those inquiries.

Lady Alice Apples 2015

Lady Alice Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are Lady Alice apples Organic?
Rainier Fruit Company is the exclusive grower of Lady Alice apples. They ship both organic and conventional Lady Alice apples. The ones at Costco were conventional. I have only seen the organic at Whole Foods.

What Is the Difference Between Lady Alice apples and Pink Lady Apples?
People seem the name “lady” and wonder if there is a connection between the two apples. They are both good keeping winter apples. I think Lady Alice is a bit sweeter and has a more rich flavor. Both are crisp, but I would give a slight edge to Pink Lady in that category.

What is Lady Alice Apples a Cross of?
No one knows for sure. It was an accidental discovery. In 1979, a damage red delicious tree, send out a branch that produced fruit that was different from the rest of the fruit on the tree. The exact parentage cannot be determined.

Are Lady Alice apples Non-GMO?
I am finding it more common nowadays when someone sees a new variety or a fruit or veggie they aren’t familiar with they immediately question whether it is a GMO. As you read about the origins of the apple was not in a laboratory, so it’s not genetically modified.

Can You Juice Lady Alice apples?
I have never done this before but it sounds like a great idea. The apple has a lot of flavor and is juicy. My mouth is watering at the thought, now I want try it!

Can You Make Applesauce with Lady Alice apples?
You really can make applesauce with any apples, just some work better than others. I like the sweet/tart balance of this apple, which I think would make an excellent applesauce without any needed sweetness. I am not sure how the texture would be, but it’s worth a shot.

What Apples Would You Compare Lady Alice Apples to?
I would say that it is not as sweet as a Gala but more flavorful. I think it tastes b better than a Honeycrisp or Pink Lady, but a step less crisp. If you like any of those 3 apples I think would you enjoy Lady Alice. A couple other less popular apples it reminds me of are Cox’s Orange Pippen and Pinata.

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Honeycrisp Apples on Tree

It’s clear these days that the Honeycrisp apple has become America’s favorite apple. Go to any grocery store during the heart of the fall harvest and I can about guarantee that the apples that are getting the biggest display and most attention is the Honeycrisp, although the Red Delicious apple is still the most grown apple in the country by a long shot. While apples like the Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith are easily available year round is the same true yet for the Honeycrisp?

Are Honeycrisp Apples Available Year Round?
No. I have seen them around in stores longer and longer each year, but there is definitely a time period where you just can’t them anymore and a time period where you don’t really want to get them anymore. Once we reach Memorial Day you probably won’t see any Honeycrisp again until September. There are Honeycrisp apples imported from places like New Zealand. But those are really going to cost you – try $5 a pound, and not even organic! I only time I tried some New Zealand ground ones, the flavor was nowhere worth that $5 a pound price.

When Does the Quality of Honeycrisp Go Down
The apple industry is really good at utilizing cold storage so that we have domestic apples all year round. Some varieties do better than others. While we have seen longer live out of Honeycrisp in the last 5 years, you will definitely notice a decline in quality as the temperature get colder. They are still crisp enough to eat into the winter months. But once we start getting into late winter and early spring, I find the quality to be so bad, you are wasting your money purchasing them. You can kiss the crispiness goodbye. By then they are mealy and unappetizing. Yuck!

What Apple Should I Buy Once Honeycrisp Aren’t Any Good or Around?
I have heard this question alot. Once the Honeycrisp is gone, what is the next best apple to buy. For the Honeycrisp lover I find that most people are satisfied with Pink Lady (also called Cripps Pink). The benefit of this apple is that it ripens at the end of the season and actually needs to be stored first. I had one in October, not long after it was picked and it was so tart, I couldn’t take it. It mellows out over time and is crisp enough to satisfy Honeycrisp fans. If you can locate it – the Lady Alice apple is released in the winter is a very flavorful, crisp apple that I like better than Honeycrisp.

If you liked this post, make sure to check out my post on When Apples are Their Peak.

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I'm Eric. I live in Ann Arbor, MI with my wife, 3 kids, and a flock of ducks. I love grocery shopping, trying new fruits, farmer's market, and traveling.
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