Best tasting apples


It is strange how things vary season to season in terms of animal pressure, although it obviously has to do with alternate food sources in my neck of the actual woods. Last year native fruit and nuts were mostly frozen out so my meager crop was almost impossible to defend. The year before last and this one the deer won’t even eat my drops. Earlier in the season they ate leaves off sagging branches but left even early ripening fruit within reach alone. Yellow jackets have seized the opportunity and are swarming around drops which are plenty because many of my apples aren’t high enough quality to bother harvesting and distributing. Many are. Very heavy cropping season.

Last year I just focused on my vegetable garden and tried to enjoy my “year off” from the orchard. Harvest and distribution is almost as much work as all other management.


Hi Paul,
Among 40+ apple grafts I did in the spring, I did not have Ontario. So, the likelihood of this apple to be Ontario is very slim to none.

I’ve mentioned that it looks like Winter Banana because it was one of the scionwood I acquired.


I agree. For me it is more work. It is also second only to the January-February freeze watches for stress. A constant loop plays in my head
Is it ripe yet?
How much of the fruit on the tree is ripe?
Should I let it hang another week?
What’s the weather outlook over the next week?

Although it should be the most enjoyable part of the season, for me harvest is one of my least. Notice I said harvest not eating the harvest.



I am still an idiot at harvesting pears, I think I picked most too early to get up sugar. I waited until they were dropping from the trees and by the calendar they should have been ready. Of course, if I’d waited longer they might have had rotten middles and I’d still be an idiot, but this year they did continue to get sweeter without the dreaded rotten core.



What you seem to be saying is that it is better to be lucky than to be good.:rofl:



Makes me want to try cherry cox


Winter Banana is known for having a suture line. I haven’t grown it myself but remember hearing of this feature somewhere and verified it with a seach.


I went to our local CRFG chapter’s annual apple tasting yesterday. I’ve gone every year for the last four years. It’s interesting how the same cultivar can taste sooooo different from year to year. And the growers also say it’s difficult to have all the apples there at the peak of ripeness, of course, so some are a underripe, some a little old and some don’t make it to the tasting if they don’t keep. This year there were only 64 types-- some years there are almost twice as many. And lots of antique and obscure apples, all grown in the area.

I took notes and I’m going to share a few of them in case it’s useful for anyone—maybe for people wondering what different cultivars taste like in different geographical areas, or what grows well in the Santa Cruz area. This year my favorites were very different than last year. I should mention, though, that I do tend to like the sweeter end of the apple spectrum, as long as there is good flavor.

Pomme Gris was a surprise to me. It was very aromatic, like perfume, with sweetness and a mysterious background flavor. White Winter Pearmain was delicious, and I’m glad that I grafted a lot of it last year! Cameo was almost insanely perfume-y and sweet. I kept checking that it was really Cameo, since I’ve never had one with such a flowery taste, but one of the growers said it was just at its peak flavor. Ambrosia was slightly watery but still in my top handful for the heady bouquet. Esopus Spitzenberg was good–now I understand why people like this one! I’d heard a lot about Goldrush, too, and it was nice but a little too mild in the flavor department. Macoun was one of the best, glad I’ve got some grafts. HP-106 tasted like honey, really good. Allen’s Everlasting had a vibrant, jazzy taste. It has won in the overall voting in previous years. C-6-216 (don’t know what the numbers refer to) was delicious too. Rubaiyat was later in the sequence (they arrange them from sweet to tart, although of course there are some that are both) meaning that it might be tart or astringent, but it was delicious AND sweet, and had a heavy honeyed taste.

I also had some fresh apple juice made mostly from arkansas black and one other unknown apple (this was part of the larger harvest festival, not under CRFG’s aegis–otherwise they would have known the apples!). It was very different from most apple juice in that there was almost no tanginess, nothing tart. Very rich, though–it reminded me of drinking Pedro Jimenez sherry, the feeling that there are about a thousand fruits condensed into every drop… yum!


I can honestly say I’ve never heard the flavor of gold rush described as mild. They certainly aren’t mild here, I wonder if it was the apple, or region where it was grown


My first year Rubaiyats in mid Ia. were not so sweet and delicious, but our locations and climates are vastly different. I’ll keep it for a few more years.


@Jwsemo, I pondered your comment and then looked on my tasting sheet, and I notice that Goldrush was just after Pineapple Crunch in the tasting order. And there’s no palate cleaner between apples, so the mildness might just be a sequence effect.


I’ve never heard of pineapple crunch what is it like


It’s an apple originating just south of here, in Watsonville, and the one I had was wonderfully juicy and very crunchy, but tbh, I did not detect any pineapple taste. After a sprightly apple like that, though, maybe any apple would seem mild?


I picked Winter Banana apples at PYO farm twice. The coloring and the shape of my unknown apple is very similar to WB. I am not very observant and did not notice a suture line.


Of all my grafts, WWP grew like gangbusters! So if it turns out you didn’t graft any, I’ll have plenty of scions in February.

I grow Winter Banana apples and have never noticed a suture line either. I’m going to go out back in the morning and try to find suture lines on the ones still hanging, but I can’t believe I’d have missed something like that.


Good for you cause it tastes like turnip. Winter Banana is much better! :slight_smile:


I haven’t tasted WB for a long time, but it was nothing special. Of course, the quality of varieties have wide fluctuations depending on many factors- especially antiques, I think. For instance, I can’t grow consistently good Baldwins at my site and some other places I manage it, but I picked some from a tree I manage yesterday that were amazingly good apples. They are always high quality there and at least at 2 other orchards I manage. It is an apple that I’ve seen fluctuate widely in favor in taste tests also.

The weird thing is that I used to think Baldwins needed sandy, relatively dry soil to achieve best quality, but yesterday’s site has clay loam.that never dries out.


Winter Banana is not the variety with the suture line distinctive feature, that is Yellow Bellflower. Every apple we pick off of Yellow Bellflower trees has that feature along with being fairly elongated and a little rough skinned. Winter Banana apples do not have that and are round and smooth skinned.


It might not be the best tasting apple, but I wanted to give a shout-out to Macoun. It’s reliable, grower-friendly and, in its best years, has a very good honey/strawberry flavor.


Winter Banana is just blah-tasting here. I pulled out my WB tree. But they are definitely pretty. I still have a few grafts of them, and they are large and pale with a deep, deep pink blush. Used it as an interstem, though, and managed to get a Tyson pear graft to take on my apple tree. We’ll see if it wakes up again in spring…

Love Macoun, though.

Yellow Bellflower is such a beautiful apple! Or at least the ones at the tasting were. Elongated, deep yellow, with perfectly evenly spaced tiny dots. I wish the taste had been more exciting–it was pleasant but a little watery.