Some of the oldest types of fruit existed almost 1000 years ago. Each region has its local varieties, which are therefore only widespread there and have adapted very well to the local conditions. A large number of old berry, pome and wild fruit varieties are still registered in the gene database of the Institute for Plant Genetics in Dresden. There are numerous reasons why old fruit varieties still have their right to exist today and should be preserved. On the one hand, they have proven themselves over many years, sometimes even centuries, and on the other hand, they have not been modified by breeding or genetic engineering.

Old apple varieties


The cultivated apple Berlepsch, which is also called Goldrenette, was cultivated as early as 1880. It is a particularly tasty dessert apple that is only suitable for raw consumption. The flesh is extraordinarily flavorful, refreshing and very juicy. In addition, the Berlepsch is one of the apple varieties with the highest vitamin C content.
It is ready to harvest from the end of September and ready to eat from January to the end of March. Cultivation of this ancient variety is hampered by susceptibility to collar rot, tree canker and peak drought (monilia).


The Boskoop, a winter apple, was discovered by accident in the Netherlands in 1856 and has been a nationwide standard apple variety since 1863. This old variety produces particularly large fruits, which often weigh more than 200 g.
The fruits are chimney to brick red and, despite their sour taste, have a particularly high fructose content, which diabetics in particular should take into account. The flesh is initially firm and juicy and later becomes tender. There is a susceptibility to pit, scab and blood lice.

Cox Orange

The Cox Orange was discovered in the early 19th century and is one of the rennets among cultivated apples. Reinettes are varieties that are characterized by initially dense and later pithy flesh and a characteristic taste.

The fruits are medium-sized, yellow-green and slightly orange to red on the side facing the sun. The flesh is greenish-yellow to cream-colored, firm and juicy and has a very aromatic scent. After the harvest, this apple becomes brittle relatively quickly.

The taste is partly sweet and partly sour. A typical characteristic of this apple variety is the ability to produce different flavor nuances and not a single dominant flavor. This variety is susceptible to pit, scab, canker, rot, powdery mildew, fire blight, blood lice and codling moth.

Golden Delicious

The Golden Delicious is a very high-yielding variety and sweet-aromatic apple. Varieties such as Elstar, Gala, Rubinette or Jonagold descend from the Golden Delicious. The fruits of this old apple variety are medium-sized with a golden-yellow firm skin. The yellowish flesh is medium firm. In terms of taste, this apple has a slight acidity and is otherwise sweet and aromatic.
It is ready for harvest from the beginning to the middle of October, whereby the fruit quality is better the later it is harvested. The Golden Delicious can be stored in a cool natural storeroom until about February. A disadvantage is its susceptibility to fire blight, scab and various viruses.

gold parmesan

The gold parmane, which is also called winter gold parmane, was one of the best types of table fruit for many centuries. The apple has a green-yellow to yellow base color and an orange top color that turns red. In addition, fine stripes are visible.
The taste of these relatively low-acid apples is typically nutty. They can be harvested from the end of September. However, they are only ready for consumption from October to January, until then they have to be stored for a few weeks. This variety is susceptible to pit, a deficiency symptom typical of apples, to fire blight, powdery mildew, canker, scab, fruit rot, codling moth, and blood and aphids. Blossoms and wood are also very sensitive to frost.


This cultivated apple has been known in northern Germany since around 1669. The apple has a strong scent. In terms of taste, it is one of the best European apple varieties. It has a delicate waxy yellow colour, flamed red on the sunny side, and has a finely spicy, aromatic taste. The flesh is light yellow and juicy. However, this old apple variety is susceptible to powdery mildew, tree cancer, fire blight, specks and scab and the flowers are relatively sensitive to frost.

Old pear varieties

Most of the pear varieties that are commercially available today date from the 18th and 19th centuries. Breeding has only recently started, but not as intensively as with apples.

Clapp’s favorite

The fruit of this variety is medium-sized and has a green base color. A brown-red coloring can usually be seen on the side facing the sun. In addition, the shell is light brown dotted. The white to light yellow flesh of this pear is very juicy and has a sweet, delicate aroma with a little acidity. It is ready for harvest in August and ready for consumption around the end of September. This old variety of pears is particularly susceptible to the dangerous fire blight.

Gellerts Butterbirne

Gellert’s butter pear is a very good table pear with a thick and firm skin and medium-firm, delicate yellow flesh, which is also very juicy and melting. The pears are medium to large in size, finely rusted with a bronze-orange red tint on the sunny side.

This pear is ready for harvest from the beginning of September. You can eat them immediately after harvest, or store them until October. The Gellerts butter pear is not suitable for longer storage. This pear variety also requires a corresponding pollinator variety. Good Luise, Williams Christ or Clapp’s darling come into question for this.

Good Louise

The good Luise was discovered in 1778. The fruits are typically pear-shaped, medium-sized, with a greenish-yellow base color and a brown-red top color on the sunny side. The white to yellowish-white flesh is juicy, melting and sweet to tart. It is ready for harvest in mid-September and ready for consumption in October. It can be stored until January. The Good Luise is a type of pear that is also good for drying. It is particularly susceptible to scab.

Williams Christ

The Williams Christ pear is also known for the fruit brandy of the same name. It is a very high-yielding summer pear that needs another pear variety for pollination. The varieties Clapps Liebling or Gellerts Butterbirne are suitable as pollinators. Good Luise is unsuitable for this.

If a pollinator plant is missing, the tree can partially develop parthenocarpic fruits. These are fruits that sometimes have insufficiently developed seeds or none at all.

The fruit is squat and relatively large at 10 cm long. Externally, the fruit is yellow-green and slightly orange on the sunny side. The yellow-white flesh is melting with an intense aroma. This pear variety is ready for harvest from mid-August to the beginning of September and can be eaten from the time it is ready for harvest until the end of October. It is very suitable for fresh consumption.

Old plum and Mirabelle varieties

house plum

The very old, late-ripening plum variety has small, blue-red to blue-black fruits. The flesh is yellow-green to orange. House plums have a very balanced relationship between sweetness and acidity. The fruits are ready for harvest between mid and late September. However, the house plum is very susceptible to the dreaded Sharka disease and the fool’s pocket disease.

Mirabelle plums from Nancy

The fruits of this high-yielding variety have a round or sometimes flattened shape. The skin of the fruit is firm, light yellow with reddish discolorations on the sunny side.
It is harvested from August to September. The fruits should be eaten fresh. The fruits of this old Mirabelle plum variety are susceptible to the plum moth, which also affects plums, damsons and greengage.

Mirabelle plums from Metz

This Mirabelle variety is a very old, high-yielding variety. The oval fruits are small to medium-sized. The skin of the fruit is yellow and dotted with red on the sunny side. The fragrant, golden-yellow flesh is firm, very juicy and sugar-sweet, with an exceptional aroma. The stone in the fruit can be removed very easily. It is harvested from August to September.

Old cherry varieties

Büttner’s Red Cherries

This variety is one of the oldest German cherry varieties. The fruits are large to very large, heart-shaped and broad. The skin is bright yellow and bright red on the sunny side. The light yellow flesh is moderately juicy and gristly. The stone separates easily from the pulp. This variety is ready for harvest between mid-July and early August, in the 5th-6th cherry week.

Hedelfinger giant cherry

This variety also belongs to the cartilaginous cherries. The fruits are medium to large, oval and heart-shaped. The skin has a matte finish and is tough, changing from brown-red to violet-black when fully ripe. The flesh, which is initially light red and later darkens, is crunchy, firm and juicy. When it rains, the fruit tends to burst. Ripening time is in the 5th-6th Week.

Sour cherry ‘Morelle’

This sour cherry is a lover’s variety. The bright red to dark red fruits are large to very large. The intensely red, soft and very juicy flesh has the typical sour morello cherry aroma with a pronounced spiciness. Can be harvested from late July to early August.

Pros and cons of old fruit varieties

  • Old varieties cannot be compared with glossy goods from the supermarket.
  • They are relatively robust and very adaptable depending on the variety and region.
  • They easily cope with climate changes.
  • Mostly old fruit varieties grow on primeval orchards.
  • They are more diverse in taste and require much less maintenance.
  • Polyphenols are responsible for color and taste.
  • Older varieties contain these to a significantly higher degree.
  • Old types of fruit are often much more suitable for allergy sufferers.
  • A disadvantage is the susceptibility of old varieties to diseases and pests.

sources of supply

You can sometimes get old fruit varieties at farmer’s markets or direct sales from the farm. If you want to grow them yourself, you can obtain the appropriate material from special tree nurseries. Sources of supply or addresses of dealers of old fruit varieties can be requested from the Lemgo Federation, for example, or you can find out more about them there.
Furthermore, the website ( provides information about direct marketers nationwide. Information about old types of fruit or the creation of meadow orchards can be obtained from landscape conservation associations, the website of the German Nature Conservation Union or the Promologists’ Association.

Older varieties of fruit are becoming increasingly popular, but they are not always easy to come by, especially local varieties. Unlike most new varieties, they are not grown industrially, and there are also fewer orchards, home to many old apple and pear varieties, so that many are already in danger of disappearing forever. It is therefore all the more important to hold on to old fruit varieties and to preserve their biodiversity.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *