Due to strict requirements and the breeding of higher-yielding varieties, many old apple varieties have been forgotten. Without the help of lovers who specialize in cultivating old varieties, many of them would have died out. However, other varieties were able to assert themselves in international trade despite higher-yielding and more resilient new breeds. Old apple varieties are rich in vitamin C and often more resistant to diseases such as rust and powdery mildew.

The sweet varieties

Apples with a sweet, fully aromatic taste are less suitable for pressing and baking, but rather serve as a refreshing and healthy snack.

Ribston Pepping
This old English apple variety was created in 1708 and has a sweet, juicy taste. The winter apple is ready to harvest from around mid-October and can be kept until March of the following year. The fruit tree is extremely demanding, which is why it was never seriously considered for commercial cultivation. Ribston Pepping prefers mild winter regions and is susceptible to powdery mildew.

Golden Delicious
This variety, which appeared for the first time at the beginning of the 20th century, is now one of the most popular winter apple varieties worldwide. The tree is considered susceptible to disease, for which the variety is known for a high yielding harvest and a sweet aroma. Varieties such as Gala, Jonagold and Cripps Pink are derived from the Golden Delicious genome.

Finkenwerder Herbstprinz
The roots of this aromatic, tart-sweet tasting apple go back to the 18th century. Its easy cultivation and high yielding harvest made this apple a popular variety in northern Germany for decades. The autumn apple cannot be stored, but does not develop its full aroma until it begins to wilt.

The popular ones

Not all old apple varieties have been forgotten and have now been able to hold their own against higher-yielding new varieties.

This apple variety appeared for the first time in 1669. The taste of the Gravensteiner is fully aromatic and juicy. The harvest time is between August and September, the cultivated apple can be stored until December. The Gravensteiner is extremely susceptible to disease and its harvest is uneven. The substrate must always be kept moist, and the tree takes up a lot of space.

Cox Orange
This English cultivated apple variety has been known since the 19th century. The winter apple has a slightly sour taste and can be stored. A permeable, always moist soil is required for the cultivation of the apple tree. Cox Orange is a pollen donor and is therefore able to fertilize almost all other apple tree varieties. The plant is easy to cultivate and hardly makes any special demands on the hobby gardener.

Ingrid Marie
The picking time for this apple variety from 1910 begins in mid-September. The resistant and high-yielding variety has a sweet and sour aroma and can be stored until February. The autumn apple is easy to grow and prefers moist locations.

Granny Smith
This green apple variety appeared for the first time in 1868. The taste of this Australian variety is slightly sour, a dry climate is required to cultivate the tree. Granny Smith is one of the winter apples and has a good shelf life. Under ideal conditions, the apple will keep until April of the following year. The yield of the smooth, medium-sized fruit is abundant and regular.

Blood apple
The striking and continuous red color of the pulp gives this variety its name. The autumn apple has a sweet and sour, cinnamon-like taste and lasts into June. This apple variety grows on a bush and is easy to cultivate.

White Klaraapfel
A summer apple that has numerous names. In addition to “Kornapfel”, “Weizenapfel” and “Ährenapfel”, terms such as “August apple” and “Johannisapfel” were assigned to this variety. All of these names indicate the early ripening time of this apple variety, which usually begins at the end of July. The pulp becomes dry and floury immediately after harvest, which requires it to be consumed quickly or processed directly into applesauce. Its short shelf life makes this apple variety only interesting for orchards and for personal use.

Storable apple varieties

Many apple varieties only achieve their full aroma some time after harvest, while others can be stored for months under the right conditions. This type of storage has been practiced successfully for centuries and, even before the invention of the refrigerator, provided people with fresh fruit and vitamins in winter. The cultivated apple varieties listed here can be stored for several months:

The red ice apple
The fruit, also known as the gypsy apple, has a long shelf life and was cultivated in Franconia as early as the 16th century. The harvest is plentiful and the sweet and sour apples ripen at the end of October. The red ice apple can be stored until June of the following year and is considered to be extremely resistant and robust. For this reason, the variety is often found in orchards.

Holsteiner Cox
The autumn apple is hardly impressed by a cool, damp climate and impresses with its long shelf life. This variety has been grown in northern Germany since the 19th century and has a spicy, slightly acidic aroma. Extremely resistant to many diseases and fungal pathogens.

American Mother
A demanding cultivated apple variety from 1882, which is also extremely resistant to fungal pathogens. Its taste is aromatic, sweet and sour with a banana-like note. The apple is also known as the Lavanttaler banana apple or mother apple and ripens in January.
Seestermüher lemon apple? The cultivated apple variety with the sweet and sour taste was grown as a chance seedling in 1930. The winter apple is rarely cultivated and is considered to be extremely susceptible to diseases. Under ideal conditions, the apple with the lemon-yellow skin will keep until January.

The fast-growing apple tree variety was grown in the Netherlands in 1856. The autumn apple can be picked from the end of September and will last until February under ideal storage conditions. A sour aroma is the typical distinguishing feature of the Boskoop.

Celler Dickstiel
The variety from the Celler area is still widespread today and impresses with its spicy aroma and juicy flesh. The apple, which was brought from Mecklenburg to Celle in 1850, is also often referred to as “Krügers Dickstiel”. In addition to its robust growth and a high-yield harvest, the autumn apples can also be stored until January of the following year.

Notes on storage

Only store apples without visible defects, because existing rotten and pressure points can quickly lead to the decay of the entire apple harvest. If you don’t have a vaulted cellar or an earth cellar to store the apples, you can also store the fruit in a shed or garage. Neatly stacked in boxes, the apples can spend many months in these breezy, cool places. Regularly check and remove damaged fruit and, in case of frost, completely cover the entire harvest with a burlap. In addition, make sure that the apples are stored in a mouse-safe manner. Other types of fruit and vegetables should not be kept in the direct vicinity of the apple trees. Protect the apples from frost.

Alternatively, the apples can also be stored in a cool and darkened cellar. The optimal temperature should only be around 3 – 6 ° C, a warmer environment promotes fungal infections. The cellar window must remain open for the entire period of storage; a frame made of rabbit fence can be attached to protect against rodents.

Note: Sort by type and remove any foreign organic material.

Propagation and care

Older varieties of the cultivated apple cannot be propagated directly from seedlings either. If you want to grow forgotten apple trees in your garden, then you should resort to grafting. For this you need a healthy and young apple tree as a basis, on which a sprig of the desired apple variety is grafted. This type of propagation has been practiced since ancient times and ensures that the unique characteristics of the apple trees are preserved. Choose an apple tree variety that suits your personal taste and whose location conditions and needs you can easily meet. However, young trees sometimes need several years before the first apples can be harvested.

Apple trees only live a maximum of 100 years. In order to increase the health and yield of the plant, you should make a clearing and training cut on the fruit tree every year. The regular supply of compost also plays an important role in the successful cultivation of old cultivated apples.

Pests and diseases

Old cultivated apple varieties are considerably more resistant to diseases than new varieties and fruit trees in monoculture. Nevertheless, care errors and incorrect locations can promote infestation by fungal pathogens and pests.

Apple scab
If the air humidity and heat are high, dark spots often form on the apple. The scab is not harmful to health, but infested fruit is not suitable for trade. Fighting is not absolutely necessary.

Fire blight
Wilted plant parts as well as black or brown discolored flowers and leaves are a symptom of the fire blight. This disease spreads like an epidemic among pome fruit plants and, if left untreated, leads to the death of the affected plants. Fire blight is harmless to people, but there is still an obligation to report. Affected parts of the plant are to be removed generously and must be destroyed.

Fruit tree
spider mite Silvery, shiny discoloration on the leaves indicates an infestation with spider mites. These small pests feed on the cell sap of the apple trees and can easily be fought by natural predators.

Rust mite
Colorless fruits and rusty brown discolored undersides of the leaves are caused by the rust mite. Control with insecticides is not necessary. Rather, predatory mites where rust mites are on the menu have proven their worth.

Tip: keep a certain planting distance between the individual trees. This will prevent fungal pathogens and pests from spreading too quickly.

Due to their external appearance and the irregular harvest, old apple varieties are often only rarely suitable for commercial cultivation. Do not let old cultivated apple varieties be forgotten, because with little effort and care you can cultivate many of these apple trees in your own garden.

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