73+ Heirloom Apples You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

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When it comes to apples, most of us think of Granny Smith, Gala, or Red Delicious.

What if I told you that there are dozens of apples that time has forgotten? Apples that we cultivated in the 1800’s and 1900’s that for some reason or another, disappeared from our diets?

I wanted to figure out the history of some of these forgotten fruits.

Enjoy this list of 73+ heirloom apples, their history, and how they taste. If you’re adventurous enough, pick up a tree and start cultivating some older varieties of apples in your own garden!​ Feel free to check out my friend Nigel’s apple resource as well.

Ananas Reinette

Ananas ReinetteOrigin: From the Netherlands in the early 1800s, around 1820-1825.

Flavor: Sweet and oftentimes compared to that of pineapple.

The Ananas Reinette is known for its lovely golden color and crisp texture. It’s also good for making juice and can be stored for several months when refrigerated.

Find more information on the Ananas Reinette here.

Arkansas Black

Arkansas BlackOrigin: From the United States in the 1840s. 

Flavor: Juicy and said to be sub-acid.

The Arkansas Black is primarily known for two main things: its incredibly hard texture and its long keeping ability. They’re also perfect apples for making cider.

Find more information on the Arkansas Black here, and buy Arkansas Black apple trees here.

Ashmead’s Kernel

Ashmead's KernelOrigin: From England in the early 1700s.

Flavor: Don’t be deterred by this apple’s unappealing appearance, as its flavor more than makes up for it. It’s crisp , juicy, and sweet, but also has a slightly acidic touch.

The Ashmead’s Kernel can be used for cooking, but most agree that it’s better for just plain eating or to be used in cider. They also are super easy to grow and produce fruit often, so they’re a great choice for all growing conditions.

Find more information on the Ashmead’s Kernel here.

Baldwin

BaldwinOrigin: From Massachusetts in the late 1800s.

Flavor: Known for having a “basic apple flavor” and being juicy, crisp, and moderately sweet.

​While Baldwins used to be more popular about a hundred years ago, they’ve still remained a classic. They’re known for having an impressive keeping ability and a tough skin, making them perfect for transporting.

Find more information on the Baldwin here.

Belle de Boskoop

Belle De BoskoopOrigin: From the Netherlands in the mid 1900s.

Flavor: Juicy with a moderately sweet flavor.

It’s best to eat these after they have been stored for some time, as the taste will be sweeter and they have an amazing keeping ability. Other than that, these apples are a classic and score well in almost every category.

Find more information on the Belle de Boskoop here.

Black Gilliflower

Black GilliflowerOrigin: From the United States in the early 1700s.

Flavor: Known for having a distinctive flavor that is not too sweet, but is oftentimes described as an “acquired taste”.

This is a fairly obscure apple, as its taste is incredibly unique and it doesn’t have a particularly good keeping ability. Some people love it and some people hate it- you’ll have to try it out for yourself.

Find more information on the Black Gilliflower here.

Black Oxford

Black OxfordOrigin: From Maine in the mid 1800s.

Flavor: Has a sharp, sweet flavor that matches its dark coloring.

Black Oxfords are perfect for making juice or just being eaten fresh. They also withstand harsh winters well, and have a keeping ability of about 3 months.

Find more information on the Black Oxford here.

Blue Pearmain

Origin: From the United States in the very early 1800s.

Flavor: Has soft skin with an incredibly sweet taste and scent.

These apples have an amazing keeping ability and can survive for up to 6 months when refrigerated. They can be used in cooking, but we recommend that you stick to using them for fresh eating.

Find more information on the Blue Pearmain here.

Braeburn

BraeburnOrigin: From New Zealand in the mid 1900s.

Flavor: Known for having a sweet and tart flavor that is delightfully refreshing.

Braeburns are considered to be a ‘mainstream’ apple, as they are a huge favorite among consumers. But, with their beautiful appearance and amazing quality, this comes as no surprise. If you’re interested in tasting one, you should be able to find them in most grocery stores.

Find more information on the Braeburn here, and buy Braeburn apple trees here.

Bramley’s Seedling

Bramley's SeedlingOrigin: From England in the early 1800s.

Flavor: A bit acidic and sharp, but still has a distinctive apple flavoring.

While these apples aren’t ideal for eating, they’re perfect for both baking and cooking. Plus, with their excellent keeping time of four months, you can stock up on them and use them whenever you need to.

Find more information on the Bramley’s Seedling here.

Calville Blanc d’Hiver

Calville Blanc d'Hiver

Origin: From France in the late 1500s.

Flavor: Sweet with a slightly spicy flavor and a banana-like scent.

This apple is incredibly versatile and is perfect for both fresh eating and cooking. However, it only keeps for about 1-2 months when refrigerated, so you should only grab some when you know you’ll use them quickly.

Find more information on the Calville Blanc d’Hiver here.

Cameo

CameoOrigin: From the United States, but the exact year is unknown.

Flavor: Known for having a high quality flavor that is similar to that of Red Delicious, but a little less intense.

​Cameos are perfect to eat fresh, and they have a subtle pear flavor that many individuals love. However, they’re a bit bland, so if you’re looking for an intense apple flavor, this type may not be for you.

Find more information on the Cameo here.

Chenango Strawberry

Chenango Strawberry

Origin: From the United States in the early 1800s.

Flavor: If the apple is completely ripe, it will have a strong classic apple flavor and scent.

These do not keep well, so if you acquire any, make sure to use them for fresh eating. They’re also not the easiest apple to find, but if you keep your eyes open, you can buy them in some stores.

Find more information on the Chenango Strawberry here.

Claygate Pearmain

Claygate PearmainOrigin: From England in the 1820s.

Flavor: Juicy with a strong flavor and scent.

Claygate Pearmains are fairly large apples with a beautiful mixture of yellow and red coloring. They usually only last between 1-2 months, so people love them for fresh eating.

Find more information on the Claygate Pearmain here.

Cortland

CortlandOrigin: From New York in 1915.

Flavor: A sweet, refreshing flavor.

These apples are very similar to the McIntosh, and they have a beautiful, glossy coloring. Although they keep very well, they still are normally used for eating.

Find more information on the Cortland here.

Cox’s Orange Pippin

Cox's Orange PippinOrigin: From England in the early 1800s.

Flavor: Has a variety of complex flavors, including spicy, sweet, and tart.

This is one of the best apples out there for fresh eating due to its amazing flavor. It’s not the traditional “crisp and sweet” apple, but it makes up for it with everything else.

Find more information on the Cox’s Orange Pippin here, and buy Cox’s Orange Pippin apple trees here.

D’Arcy Spice

D'Arcy SpiceOrigin: From the United Kingdom in the 1800s.

Flavor: A sweet flavor with a slight dash of spice.

These apples are very unique in both flavor and appearance. They’re perfect for fresh eating, but they also can be used to make a tasty juice.

Find more information on the D’Arcy Spice here.

Dolgo Crab

Origin: From Russia, but the exact year is unknown.

Flavor: Very juicy and tart.

These are actually tiny crap apples, but they’re perfectly okay to eat fresh. They also turn into an amazing jelly, but they don’t have a good keeping time.

Find more information on the Dolgo Crab here.

Duchess of Oldenburg

Duchess of OldenburgOrigin: From Russia in the early 1700s.

Flavor: Tastes both savory and tart.

These are perfect for cooking, and they are said to break down into a consistency that is like a “fluff”. However, they’re not as good for fresh eating, and they don’t have a great keeping time.

Find more information on the Duchess of Oldenburg here.

Fameuse/Snow Apple

FameuseOrigin: From Quebec before the year 1730.

Flavor: Intense scent with a sweet and crisp flavor.

Snow apples are very tiny and mainly used for fresh eating. They also have a beautiful red coloring and keep well for about 2 months.

Find more information on the Snow Apple here.

Franc Rambour

Franc RambourOrigin: From France in the 16th century.

Flavor: Has a sharp and sweet honey flavoring.

If you’re looking for a good apple to dry, this is the one. They’re also great for other types of cooking and fresh eating.

Find more information on the Franc Rambour here.

Fuji

FujiOrigin: From Japan in the 1960s.

Flavor: Incredibly crisp and sweet.

Fujis are the ultimate classic apple. They keep super well, have a beautiful dark pink and red coloring, and are perfect for fresh eating.

Find more information on the Fuji here, and buy Fuji apple trees here.

Gala

GalaOrigin: From New Zealand in the 1960s.

Flavor: A rich honey flavor with a strong scent.

The Gala is a classic apple that can be bought almost anywhere. They’re not very good for cooking, but they’re perfect for fresh eating.

Find more information on the Gala here, and buy Gala apple trees here.

Ginger Gold

Ginger Gold

Origin: From Virginia in the 1960s.

Flavor: Has a fresh sweetness and sharp scent.

These apples have a beautiful yellow color with a crisp skin. They’re perfect for eating and can even be used for juice.

Find more information on the Ginger Gold here, and buy Ginger Gold apple trees here.

Golden Delicious

Golden DeliciousOrigin: From West Virginia in the 1890s.

Flavor: A sweet flavor that smells like honey.

These apples work very well for cooking, as they keep their shape. However, with their soft and delicious flavor, they’re perfect for eating, too.

Find more information on the Golden Delicious here.

Golden Russet

Golden RussetOrigin: From New York in 1845.

Flavor: A sweet honey flavoring.

These apples hold their shape well when used for cooking, and their complex flavor makes them perfect for baking as well. But, if you really want to use them to their full capacity, make juice out of them.

Find more information on the Golden Russet here.

Granny Smith

Granny SmithOrigin: From Australia in the 1860s.

Flavor: A sharp, refreshing taste.

Granny Smith apples are by far one of the most famous apples to have ever been discovered. They’re also perfect for making hard cider, as they have such a refreshing and classic apple flavor.

Find more information on the Granny Smith here.

Gravenstein

GravensteinOrigin: From Denmark in the 1700s.

Flavor: Has a sharp, but not overbearing taste.

Gravensteins are amazing for desserts, particularly because they hold their shape well. They also can be used to make delicious sauces.

Find more information on the Gravenstein here, and buy Gravenstein apple trees here.

Greening’s Rhode Island

Greening's Rhode IslandOrigin: From Rhode Island in the 17th century.

Flavor: Has a sharp, honey taste.

These apples are perfect for making hard cider, as well as for drying out. They also are one of the best fruits to use in pie.

Find more information on the Greening’s Rhode Island here.

Grimes Golden

Grimes GoldenOrigin: From West Virginia in the 1830s.

Flavor: A rich spicy flavor with a hint of sweetness.

While these are mainly meant for fresh eating, they also are fantastic for making cider, juices, and sauces. The flavor is rich, but it never is too heavy.

Find more information on the Grimes Golden here.

Hewes Virginia Crab

Hewes Virginia CrabOrigin: From Virginia in the 18th century.

Flavor: A strong, powerful taste.

These are very small apples that are generally used to help make hard cider. They’re great for alcohol extraction and taste wonderful when mixed with larger cider apples.

Find more information on the Hewes Virginia Crab here.

Hidden Rose

Hidden RoseOrigin: From Oregon in the mid 1960s.

Flavor: Tart with a mild sweetness.

The Hidden Rose can be both cooked and eaten fresh. When eaten freshly, it should be thinly sliced and eaten with foods such as cheese.

Find more information on the Hidden Rose here.

Holstein

HolsteinOrigin: From Germany in 1918.

Flavor: An exceptional sweet and sharp honey flavor.

Holsteins are great for baking, especially when used in pies or tarts. The skin remains in tact even when subjected to high temperatures.

Find more information on the Holstein here.

Honeycrisp

HoneycrispOrigin: From Minnesota in the 1960s.

Flavor: Has a sweeter taste than many other apples.

Honeycrisps are known for their amazing flavor, and they are a fantastic apple for fresh eating. They also have a nice crisp and crunchy texture.

Find more information on the Honeycrisp here, and buy Honeycrisp apple trees here.

Hubbardston Nonesuch

Hubbardston Nonesuch

Photo courtesy of Bar Lois Weeks, New England Apple Association

Origin: From Massachusetts before 1832.

Flavor: A rich flavor that becomes sweeter when fully ripe.

A great apple for fresh eating that does not have a spicy flavor. Sometimes the skin will be slightly uneven and bumpy, but the taste makes up for that.

Find more information on the Hubbardston Nonesuch here.

Hudson’s Golden Gem

Hudson’s Golden GemOrigin: From Oregon in 1931.

Flavor: A crisp, sugary flavor, with a slight hint of nut.

These apples are not particularly juicy, so they do not do quite well with cooking or making cider. However, they have a unique flavor that is lovely for fresh eating.

Find more information on the Hudson’s Golden Gem here.

Jonagold

JonagoldOrigin: From New York in 1943.

Flavor: A high quality flavor with a sharp sweetness.

These apples are perfect for fresh eating, but they do not have a traditional crunch or crisp. We recommend that you eat them when they’re as fresh as possible, as that is when the flavor is the highest quality.

Find more information on the Jonagold here.

Karmijn de Sonnaville

Karmijn de SonnavilleOrigin: From the Netherlands in 1949.

Flavor: A sharp, pronounced flavor.

They do not keep very well, but their lovely flavor makes up for it. Because of the keeping time, they’re perfect for any kind of fresh eating.

Find more information on the Karmijn de Sonnaville here.

Knobbed Russet

Knobbed RussetOrigin: From England in 1819.

Flavor: A rich, sugary flavor with a nice crispness.

Knobbed Russets have very uneven surfaces and coloring, but they make up for this with their amazing flavor. They’re known for being great in pies and also go well with cheese.

Find more information on the Knobbed Russet here. 

Lady Apple

Lady AppleOrigin: From France in 1628.

Flavor: A sweet but mild taste and scent.

Lady Apples are incredibly crunchy and crisp. Additionally, they have a fantastic keeping time. We recommend that you eat them fresh.

Find more information on the Lady Apple here.

Lamb Abbey Pearmain

Lamb Abbey Pearmain

Origin: From England in the early 1800s.

Flavor: Crunchy, with a sweet and tart flavoring.

These apples are tiny, but are packed with amazing flavor. In order to get the best taste, make sure to eat them when they’re completely ripe.

Find more information on the Lamb Abbey Pearmain here.

Lodi’s

Lodi’sOrigin: From New York in 1924.

Flavor: A very sharp, tart, flavor

These apples are best for cooking due to their strong, tart flavor. They also are lovely for apple sauce.

Find more information on the Lodi here.

Macoun

MacounOrigin: From New York in the 1920s.

Flavor: Very sweet, with a flavor similar to strawberries and raspberries.

Macouns are amazing for both fresh eating and baking. They also are great for making cider, as well.

Find more information on the Macoun here.

Maiden’s Blush

Maiden’s BlushOrigin: From New Jersey in 1817.

Flavor: A sharp acid flavor.

Maiden’s Blush apples are perfect for baking, making cider, and cooking. While their skin isn’t particularly beautiful, the taste fully makes up for it.

Find more information on the Maiden’s Blush here.

McIntosh

McIntoshOrigin: From Canada in the 1820s.

Flavor: A sweet, refreshing taste.

McIntosh apples are amazing for making apple sauce, especially when they still have the skin on them. They also are the perfect size and texture for fresh eating.

Find more information on the McIntosh here, and buy McIntosh apple trees here.

Melrose

MelroseOrigin: From the United States in 1944.

Flavor: A slight acidic flavor, but still sweet.

Melrose apples are also ideal for baking and desserts. Butter, cinnamon, and caramel are just a few of the many ingredients that pair well with them.

Find more information on the Melrose here.

Mollies Delicious

Mollies Delicious

Origin: From the United States in 1948.

Flavor: A sweet flavor with a lovely aftertaste.

These apples have a moderate keeping time of at least 10 weeks when refrigerated. They’re also very juicy and can be used to make ciders and other drinks.

Find more information on the Mollies Delicious here.

Muscadet de Bernay

Origin: From France in the 1700s.

Flavor: A bittersweet taste.

These are large apples that are great for juices and ciders due to their bittersweet taste. Some people find them to be too acidic for fresh eating, but they still can be used for that.

Find more information on the Muscadet de Bernay here.

Mutsu

Mutsu

Origin: From Japan in 1930.

Flavor: A sharp but refreshing taste.

Mutsus are perfect apples to both turn into chips and eat fresh. They are incredibly juicy, and they have a sharp flavor that is refreshing and crisp.

Find more information on the Mutsu here.

Newtown Pippin

Newtown PippinOrigin: From Long Island in the mid 18th century.

Flavor: A rich, high-quality flavor.

These apples were made famous by none other than Thomas Jefferson, who grew them at Monticello. They’re fantastic for things such as apple sauce, and they have a variety of other cooking-related uses.

Find more information on the Newtown Pippin here.

Northern Spy

Northern SpyOrigin: From Rochester in the early 1840s.

Flavor: Tart and crisp.

The Northern Spy is great for both baking and fresh eating. It has a refreshing and crisp flavor that is the perfect amount of sweetness.

Find more information on the Northern Spy here.

Opalescent

OpalescentOrigin: From the United States in the 1880s.

Flavor: Juicy and sweet with a slight strawberry taste.

Opalescents are known for being some of the best baking apples around. They are large and packed with flavor, so they’re also perfect for fresh eating, too.

Find more information on the Opalescent here.

Orleans Reinette

Orleans ReinetteOrigin: From France in the 1770s.

Flavor: Juicy with a slight spice.

These apples are best when eaten fresh, as they do not have a particularly good keeping time. They also have a beautiful skin that is not too difficult to bite through.

Find more information on the Orleans Reinette here.

Paula Red

Paula RedOrigin: From Michigan in 1960.

Flavor: A mild, plain taste.

Paula Reds make amazing pink applesauce, but you will most likely have to add extra sugar in order to get the right flavor. They have a mild, dependable flavor that is neither too sharp nor too sweet.

Find more information on the Paula Red here. 

Pinova

PinovaOrigin: From Germany in 1986.

Flavor: Sweet with a slight floral note.

These apples have a beautiful coloring and skin, as well as a juicy interior. They also are known for smelling like roses.

Find more information on the Pinova here.

Pitmaston Pineapple

Pitmaston PineappleOrigin: From the United Kingdom in the 19th century.

Flavor: An unusual taste that is similar to pineapples.

While these apples may not be the prettiest, they definitely make up for it with their unique and amazing flavor. They also have a fantastic texture that is the perfect mixture of both firm and soft.

Find more information on the Pitmaston Pineapple here.

Red Astrachan

Red AstrachanOrigin: From Russia in the early 1800s.

Flavor: Juicy and crisp with a slight tartness.

These apples are fantastic for fresh eating and for making apple sauce. However, they do not have a very good keeping time, so make sure to use them quickly.

Find out more about the Red Astrachan here.

Red Delicious

Red DeliciousOrigin: From the United States at an unknown date.

Flavor: Sweet and easy to chew.

The Red Delicious is one of the most famous American apples to have ever been discovered. It’s known for it’s brilliant red coloring, as well as its classic flavors.

Find more information on the Red Delicious here, and buy Red Delicious Apple Trees here.

Reine des Reinettes

Reine des ReinettesOrigin: From France in the 1770s.

Flavor: A complex flavor with a slight hint of acidity.

These apples are best to eat one to two weeks after they have been picked. They have a pleasing crunch and are quite refreshing.

Find more information on the Reine des Reinettes here.

Ribston Pippin

Ribston PippinOrigin: From England in the 18th century.

Flavor: Sweet and sharp.

These do not have a very good keeping time, so we recommend eating them almost immediately once they’re picked. When they’re fully ripe, they’re incredibly juicy and have a strong flavor.

Find more information on the Ribston Pippin here.

Rome Beauty

Rome BeautyOrigin: From Ohio in 1816.

Flavor: Mild taste with a hint of sweetness.

These apples have an absolutely beautiful red coloring, but they’re not particularly flavorful. People enjoy using them for pies, apple sauce, and fresh eating.

Find more information on the Rome Beauty here.

Roxbury Russet

Roxbury RussetOrigin: From Massachusetts in the early 17th century.

Flavor: Spicy with a moderate sweetness.

Don’t be deceived by this apple’s looks, as they actually have a fantastic flavor and texture. Roxbury Russets are incredibly crunchy, but they won’t make you chip a tooth, either.

Find more information on the Roxbury Russet here.

Sansa

SansaOrigin: From Japan in 1988.

Flavor: Sweet with a slight hint of acid.

The Sansa is a large apple with a brilliant red coloring. It’s nice and crisp, making it perfect for fresh eating.

Find more information on the Sansa here.

Shizuka

ShizukaOrigin: From Japan in 1908.

Flavor: Sweet with a slight hint of acid.

These large apples have an excellent flavor and crunch. They’re ideal for fresh eating.

Find more information on the Shizuka here.

Sops in Wine

Sops of WineOrigin: From England in 1832.

Flavor: An acidic taste.

Sops in Wine are ideal when they’re used to make cider. They do not keep for very long, and they are of medium size, but their taste is very high quality.

Find more information on the Sops in Wine here.

Spartan

SpartanOrigin: From Canada in 1926.

Flavor: Sweet with a wine-like flavor.

Spartans have a beautiful red coloring along with a satisfying crunch. They also are best when eaten fresh.

Find more information on the Spartan here.

Spitzenberg

SpitzenbergOrigin: From New York in the 1800s.

Flavor: A spicy flavor.

Spitzenbergs are a great American apple that were particularly loved by Thomas Jefferson. The flavor is particularly tasty when they’re eaten fresh.

Find more information on the Spitzenberg here.

Twenty Ounce

Twenty OunceOrigin: From the United States in the 1840s.

Flavor: Juicy and sweet.

The Twenty Ounce is a large apple with a pretty skin and smooth texture. They’re great for pies, and you can even bake them individually with butter, sugar, and cinnamon.

Find more information on the Twenty Ounce here.

Wickson

WicksonOrigin: From Northern California in the early 20th century.

Flavor: Very sweet and sharp.

Wicksons are a type of crap apple, and they are known for being amazing in cider. They have an incredibly intense flavor despite their size.

Find more information on the Wickson here.

Winesap

WinesapOrigin: From the United States in the 1800s.

Flavor: A sharp and tart taste.

Winesaps may be very tiny, but their flavor packs a punch. Many individuals love using them in order to make cider.

Find more information on the Winesap here, and buy Winesap apple trees here.

Winter Banana

Winter BananaOrigin: From Indiana in the 1870s.

Flavor: A slight banana scent and flavor.

Winter Bananas are best for fresh eating and using in apple pies. They also have a good keeping time when kept cold.

Find more information on the Winter Banana here.

Wolf River

Wolf RiverOrigin: From Wisconsin in the 1870s.

Flavor: Tart with a mild sweetness.

Wolf Rivers are large, juicy apples that are perfect for cooking and baking. They also are very tasty when eaten fresh.

Find more information on the Wolf River here.

Yates

YatesOrigin: From Georgia in approximately 1884.

Flavor: A juicy and spicy flavor.

Yates apples are best used for fresh eating and making cider. They’re small apples and have a lovely blush coloring.

Find more information on the Yates here.

Yellow Transparent

Yellow TransparentOrigin: From Russia before 1870.

Flavor: Very juicy and sweet.

Yellow Transparents are fantastic for making juice, wine, and even apple chips. They also can be frozen and kept for a long time.

Find more information on the Yellow Transparent here, and buy Yellow Transparent apple trees here.

Zabergau Reinette

Zabergau ReinetteOrigin: From Germany in 1885.

Flavor: Sharp with a flavor that is similar to nettles.

These are incredibly large apples that are known for being sharp and spicy. While they don’t particularly look nice or have pretty skin, their flavor more than makes up for this.

Find more information on the Zabergau Reinette here.


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:


Kevin Espiritu
Founder

Forget about Granny Smith...there are dozens of heirloom apple varieties that you\'ve probably never heard of! Check out the list and grow some of your own.
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4 thoughts on “73+ Heirloom Apples You’ve Probably Never Heard Of”

  1. I am looking for an apple that was very large and one apple would be enough for a pie . We never knew a name for the apple because it was always said, go out to the pie apple tree. The skin was mostly yellow and a very firm apple . The trees were there from great grandparents. We are thinking they were from the late 1800’s. We live is SE Minnesota. Grandparents came from Luxenbeurg.

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