Dual purpose cider/dessert apple recomendation

I am looking for a good dual purpose cider/fresh eating apple recommendation.for the mid-Atlantic region.

In particular I am considering Ashmead’s Kernel and Roxbury Russet apples. Has anyone had experience with these? How easy are they to grow? Any problems with scab or CAR? Is there another similar antique variety that would be a good option?

I also recently picked up a Goldrush tree so I have a well regarded modern apple.

In my researching I found these tables of apple disease resistance characteristics, which are sadly contradictory in many cases, but are interesting nonetheless.





Any of the Limbertwigs, especially Black LT. More Goldrush! Yates is an old Southern cider apple that some folks like to eat fresh, don’t have enough experience with it to assess blight resistance, might be iffy based on a couple grafts I did for friends. I’d say focus on Southern apples, not Northern.

Do you plan to spray?

first year experimenting with heirloom/unique apples, I was impressed w/ smokehouse and Roxbury and VERY impressed w/ golden russet.

Ashmead’s Kernel is good but is not as productive. Roxbury is not quite as tasty but is very productive. I did not get bad CAR on either of them, but they were also not located in my worst CAR spots.

Winesap and Grimes are other good reliable cider apples. I don’t have enough experience with the LImbertwigs to be sure they are reliable enough, but Black Limbertwig could be a great cider apple if its production is reliable. Yates is very small but otherwise looks to be a good one.

I would call Smokehouse a good eater but not as good for cider. Well, it would be good for fresh cider, I assume you mean alcoholic. Golden Russet is prone to rot for me.

I could see smokehouse not having the bite for fermented, but it is very juicy and from what I hear productive as well–it could be a good cider base if you have wild crabs or other things to add tannin and acid.

Right now I have 3 gallons of plain cider with close to a gallon of smashed, fermented 4 days, then pressed crabs in the mix…

Thanks for the input… while not 100% decided I am leaning towards Arkansas Black, Black Twig, Ashmead’s Kernel, and Gold Rush. I am most concerned about CAR because I have cedar trees all around the edges of my property. Everything but the Gold Rush is supposed to be pretty resistant so hopefully it won’t prove to be a nightmare. (and with any luck having only one susceptible apple in the bunch will help)

Go with Roxbury.

With GoldRush as a given I would skip Ashmeads and Roxbury since you already have a sour yellow apple. (Its more than the color, the flavor is also a bit related). My memory of Ark Black is it is less sour so it could be a good contrast. I never for got Blacktrig to ripen well but it also tends to be on the sour side. You want to avoid getting to sour, most people have too much sour in their cider mix as the sour cider apples are the more famous ones. I wish I understood why that is…

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Well, part of why I wanted either Roxbury or Ashmeads was because they are interesting old apples with a lot of history. I am also planning to plant Enterprise and Liberty but didn’t list them as they aren’t really seen as cider apples from what I can tell.

Matt, why would you suggest Roxbury over Ashmeads?

Ashmead’s is good but it’s kinda intense. And doesn’t seem to keep as well as Roxbury.

Roxbury has a great flavor and a unique texture that is still crisp and pleasing even after it’s gone a little soft.

By the way- Goldrush is great, but it is a magnet for foliar cedar apple rust, which is ususally not a big deal, but just FYI.

At least for me, Roxbury has been precocious, productive, and disease resistant (has not shown cedar apple rust or fireblight, both of which I’ve had on other trees). And I think when in top form, it is a fantastic apple. I wouldn’t describe it as a sour apple; when ripened well it has plenty of sugar though some acid and tannin too. In my opinion a balanced and delicious apple. Downsides are that it isn’t as pretty as some russets, seems to often not reach it’s full potential for flavor, and I’ve read that it wants to grow big and is semi-tip bearing (so far it hasn’t been an issue for my espalier though).

Supposedly you can make a good single variety hard cider from just Roxbury. It is great eating fresh, middling for storage. They get kind of rubbery by January in my opinion. I’ve made plenty of pies out of straight Roxbury and it does great in that application too.

I have an Ashmead’s but it has yet to fruit and seems less vigorous. It has a reputation as not being that productive. The ones I’ve eaten from Poverty Lane in NH have been extremely good though.

Goldrush has also been great for precocity and productivity, and the tree is well behaved but vigorous as an espalier. It did not show any fireblight when it was in other trees this year, but it gets hit with CAR as bad as anything else I’ve got. My CAR the last two years has not been that bad though. I have five apples on this tree still hanging and I’m wondering when to bring them in. Squirrels ruined more than half the ones I had in September.

I have Goldrush, Ashmeads and Golden Russett and Goldrush wins with productivity, flavor isn’t the same, but for them I’d go with Goldrush. Ashmeads is shy to produce, but the few I had it’s a keeper and I’m going to say goodbye to Golden Russett…

Hi John,

Is your Golden Russett American or English? What are its negatives that you make plan to remove it?

Says American on the Orange Pippin website where I got it from. I have two Ashmeads in good locations with a drip irrigation. And my golden is in a bad location and no drip. Flavor hasn’t wowed me and really two russetts are enough for me. Smaller than Ashmeads.

Grimes Golden, Ben Davis.

My Roxbury Russet were always very tart, I am starting to wonder if it doesn’t differ by location. I took out my tree several years ago but looking at my tasting logs it was always “super sweet, super tart”. In looking at descriptions now, the northern ones are more about sub-acid and the southern ones are more about brisk.

Maybe I will switch the Ashmead back to the Roxbury. I still have a few weeks before I will order. I like the idea of having at least a few old apples that most people haven’t tried. Especially given how important some of these cultivars were in this region 100+ years ago.

Is anyone growing the Newtown/Albemarle Pippen? I have heard it isn’t the easiest apple to grow.

Before you make a buying decision, don’t ignore Baldwin. Until a weather anomaly, it was the most popular apple in the eastern half of the nation, there’s a reason, it makes an incredible single variety sparkling semi sweet/dry cider(made with my hands, first try so its easy), as a pie apple there is no equal, it eats well out of hand, crisp but not tooth shatteringly hard, properly sweet with enough acid to satisfy. Put it on g935 or g202 and its well behaved and precocious. I’ve said my piece, good luck.


I have not had the best of luck with Newtown, this year every single apple rotted. That is unusual though, and it usually does at least OK. It was one of the most common mid-Atlantic apples in the past so it can’t be too hard to grow.