Best Heirloom Dessert Apple Varieties?

My Indian free peach has had no peach leaf curl all the years I have had it here in Portland. I don’t spray it or do anything special and it gives me lots of sweet tart bug and disease free fruit end of September and begin of October.

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If you have a couple to spare this year, I’d love to try the fruit. I never got any from mine. Don’t know what I’m missing.

Next year may be better. It is a pretty small crop this year plus the squirrels haven’t taken their taxes yet. Most of my things are in a poor harvest year except grapes and blackberries.


Yeah, European plums and peaches didn’t do well this year.

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Correct. You must have been posting same time I replied…didn’t see this before.

I am rather surprised so few people jumped in to name a heirloom dessert apple they like.
(Of course, many of us have only tasted dozens, not thousands, so the “Best” is subjective anyhow.)

I suppose Red Delicious and Grimes Golden are “heirlooms” since they’re over 100 years old. Both are great apples. So is winesap.

It is the same thing as a person showing up with the “best tomato I’ve ever tasted” when they have only tasted a dozen or so varieties of tomato. I’ve tasted over 3000 varieties of tomatoes and can name at least 100 that have excellent flavor. There is more nuance to knowing that people have different taste preferences. Some want tart, some rich, some balanced, some sweet. Genius is when you can match a person’s stated flavor preference with a good flavored tomato that will grow and produce well in a given climate.

When it comes to apples, I’ve only tried about 100 varieties over the years. My favorite is Fuji so far. It is not an heirloom variety but that is ok, I’m still young and have a lot of apples to try.


I’ve tasted hundreds of apple varieties.

I’ve also had samples of the same variety that I would rank 3/10 on some occasions and 10/10 on others. So I’ve learned to remind myself not to judge an apple based on one or two samples.

If somebody recommends a variety, its best if I can share a sample from the same piece of fruit with them, so they can confirm that it indeed embodies what they like about it.


Same here, Fuji is my preferred super market fare…but still have’t found one in a store or on my tree that I’d pick over a tree ripened Red Delicious on a cool fall day. Nor over a tree ripened Honeycrisp.

I picked apples some 40 years ago …paid by the bushel…for a roadside orchard, so I tasted every variety they grew. But I’m probably still a good bit under 100 in tasting. I have quite a number of grafted trees that I expect fruit from next year…and get to try some additional ones.


So, of 3,000…is there at least 3 or 4 that stand out from the crowd?

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There are a few that stand out but it really depends on flavor preference. I like a balanced flavor tomato with some richness of tomato flavor, some sweetness, and a bit of tart. My preferences tilt in the direction of pink tomatoes because the gene that causes pink fruit reduces the acidic sour notes. Among the very best tomatoes I’ve grown, Crnkovic Yugoslavian earns a place in the top 10. Lynnwood is a medium size tomato that has never failed to produce a crop of good flavored red tomatoes. Picardy is not the best flavored tomato I’ve grown, but canned, it is summertime in a jar. For orange tomatoes, KBX is an outstanding slicer. Aunt Ruby’s German Green can be an absolutely phenomenal green when ripe. Yoders German Yellow is among the best of the yellows. I could name many more. Like apples, some years they are good, some years not so good.


Do you like Black Krim?

In order of preference, I like; Bear Creek, J.D.'s Special C-Tex, Black Krim, and Black From Tula. The best flavored purple/black I’ve tried was a hand made hybrid of an unnamed selection stabilized from a Brandywine X Cherokee Purple cross then crossed with Black Cherry. When I could get seed, I sold it as Purple Haze. Production was very high of @1 inch diameter fruit that ticked every note on the flavor index.

Bear Creek is derived from a Brandywine X Cherokee Purple cross. J.D.'s Special C-Tex is from Black Krim X Early Girl.


I’ll have to give Bear Creek a shot, thank you.

I like meaty tomatoes, that hold together as slices, not a bunch of runny seed pulp. Looks like Bear Creek probably checks that box:

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Hello again everyone,

Thank you all for your assistance in identifying apple varieties that would suite me!

I have recently been falling further down the rabbithole of apple tree cultivation and I figured out that using apple trees in my mixed border (with evergreen shrubs like rhododendron and camellia) would both provide them with some much needed shade during the summer and add privacy to my backyard in the summer and help me cram in more trees! The trick is that I need to keep the apple trees on S-boundary border short so that they do not obstruct light from the rest of garden in the winter (less than 8’ ideally). This is very different than my original idea of just having two or three semi-dwarf trees in the “orchard” section at the back of my backyard on the E side of the property (my house faces west and I have two mixed borders with my neighbors on the N and S sides, sorry if this all confusing!). Keeping the apples trees in particular shorter and closer to my house is probably also good because I will likely be bagging to prevent coddling moth.

So I’m trying to figure out whether it would be better to buy the semi-dwarf (really sounds like MM111 is almost full size) from Trees of Antiquity and prune them aggressively to maintain 8’ in height on my S boundary or whether I should actually go ahead and buy dwarf or even mini trees from Raintree. We’ve discussed that there are disadvantages of dwarf rootstocks (needs more water in the summer, less lifespan) but I’m willing to replace these trees after 10-15 years if they are significantly easier to maintain at this size. I was wondering if I could bother you guys for some advice again since I got such useful information last time :slight_smile:

By the way, my list is now expanded to Rubinette, Karmijn de Sonnaville, Golden Grimes, Egremont Russet, Hudson’s Golden Gem, and Brown Russet (sounds more scab resistant compared to Golden Russet?). Most of these are available as dwarf or minis from Raintree.

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For what it’s worth, I’ve done the former. When the trees (sans water sprouts) get taller than about 8 feet - and only the most vigorous of them, usually triploids, have - I’ve topped their central spindle. This has encouraged them to grow out, not just up. It’s really been no trouble so far, about 7-8 years for most of the trees.

Whether that’s the best approach in your area, I couldn’t say. Your site may well be less dry, less windy, and less hilly than mine. It’s worked out well here, though.


I’d go with MM111 and espalier the trees.

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My two apple trees are on MM111 and it has not been a problem keeping them 8 feet and under. Also got them from trees of antiquity.


Do you just prune them to that height? I have most of my apple trees on M111. Some are shorter and I have a few that are probably 16+ feet tall. I need to get them down to a smaller size.

All nice apples, Mark, from what I read…have yet to taste some of those.
Snow is interesting…ripens earlier than I thought here. But, still haven’t had a sample
without insect damage.

I had Prairie Spy…a good apple. But not a ‘amazing’ one. Been awhile, maybe I need to try that one again if I find one.

I guess few folks grow heirloom dessert apples, apparently.


Most of my apple trees are on MM111. I keep them pruned to about 10 feet which has not been a problem. Suckers are infrequent as is fireblight. For the most part they are beautiful well rounded trees. I did want to mention that you must have a lot of patience waiting for them to bear. I have two that are eight years old and have had one bloom between them. It has been easy to get discouraged waiting for fruit while others are enjoying their harvest and posting tons of gorgeous pictures of the same.

Having a couple dwarfed trees has been gratifying if only to fill that need for quicker results and positive feedback. Many of these trees can produce full sized fruit by the first couple years. Most on this site are so dedicated that waiting seems a small price to pay and I applaud their dedication. I imagine I am in the minority but I thought it worth mentioning.