Spitz no spitter at 22% sugar

I was pruning some trees that I grafted over from seedling at a very good site today- dawn to dusk sun and deep loam soil that doesn’t impose an excess of water. I didn’t mind that I was knocking off fruit as I pruned because the trees on this part of the property were not sprayed and the owners have more apples than they know what to do with from other trees that received the low-spray treatment my customers usually opt for.

Some of the apples looked beautiful even though they received no spray- just that kind of a year for apples here in the northeast. I took a bite of an Esopus Spitzenburg and it was so good I ate half the apple (this time a year that’s a lot for me as I’m continually sampling). I’ve had this variety before but the site and the season seems to have brought out its best. I took it home and put the juice under the refractometer and it hit 22! I never would have thought this variety could get so much sugar.


H-man that is amazing. I have a new refractometer on the way and cannot wait to try it on my fruit. Isn’t the Spitzenburg a very old apple?

Alan, you are soooooo lovin’ that refractometer! I get a kick every time I read a new post with your sugary discoveries.

MrsG, looks like you’ll be the next joining the chorus and slinging brix. At least these ‘bricks’ are only helpful and can’t hurt anyone.

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I know, I hope it isn’t getting boring but I’m amazed that Spitz can get so high when I haven’t found a Honeycrisp above 13.5 this season. Maybe someone should rebrand sptiz "“sugar spit”.

Mrs. G, it is a 16th century apple that is said to have been T. Jefferson’s favorite. Maybe in VA it consistently gets that kind of sugar but I don’t think I’ve ever had as good a version of it as on this particular tree this season (I’ve tasted it elsewhere this season where it was not the same). It is a site that consistently produces very high quality fruit- the Green Gages there are just amazing- much better than the ones I harvest on my property.

I’ll be trading for scion wood this coming spring. Would love some of that!

The brix meter is helping me understand why some of these old apples have stayed around. I got an Adams Pearmain at 20.5, and Bob got an Ashmeads at 21. Sweetness isn’t everything but it is an important dimension.

I have only one limb graft of Spitz which has a few apples this year. Will have to check them out, I thought they were not ripe yet.

I’m liking all the brix readings. Thank you. It is helpful info and I think will make us better fruit growers in the long run.

Yeah, I didn’t have a meter last season but was surprised how good an Adams Pearman tasted. I hadn’t heard of it being a big winner in taste tests.

No, not boring at all! If anything, it’s brought new dimensions to your reports and increased enthusiastic spirit in your posts.

The boy has a new toy and he’s happy! It shows.


Esopus Spitzenburg was indeed Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple, but he struggled to grow good specimens at Monticello. It is actually considered a northern apple, and was discovered near Esopus in upstate New York. It is said to achieve its greatest flavor in the north. It can get mushy and tasteless (or succumb to scab or fireblight) in the south if the summer is too hot and humid. Jefferson would visit friends in the north to get his Spitz’ fix.

The apples that did reliably well for him in Virginia were Roxbury Russet (a Massachusetts apple that can take the heat) and Newtown Pippin (ironically, another New York apple; also known as Albemarle Pippin, because it grew so well for Jefferson and his neighbors in Albemarle County, VA).

I have Spitz multi-budded on a Roxbury Russet (Geneva.16 root). The grafted branch has proven quite vigorous; it put on 4 feet this year!

Spitz does not like humid lowlands. It grows best at elevations 1,000 feet above sea level or higher.

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The site is in Pine Plains NY which does have a bit of elevation and the orchard is at the top of a hill. Perfect orchard land.

Fruit Grower magazine had an article about a west coast grower that loved this apple and claimed to grow better quality than what could be done back east. I wish I could find the article and try to figure out the elevation of where he grows it.

Spitz is an easier apple here than Newtown it seems. It’s a better producer and makes a lot cleaner fruit with less spray for me. I love the Newtown flavor though.

1,000 feet above sea level is much higher than where I live. Too bad it won’t do well here. I’m missing a seriously ‘heritage’ apple. darn.

I agree Newtown is really good. It has that unique aromatic overtone that some people rightly describe as “piney.” Nice clean compact green apple. I like to slice it into pieces for fresh eating in October.

Spitz is one of my favorite eating apples, I have one tree cropping nicely this year which is just starting to ripen. Tetraploid vigor. This variety is considered a bit of a foliar scab magnet, although the fruit on mine look okay.

I’m starting to wonder if I don’t have the wrong variety, I checked my Spitz last night and they are still not ripe. They currently have red blush but the rest is greenish. The shape looks right and I expect it still is the right apple.

It is a very red apple with white dots.

Incidentally I checked the brix on a Tomkin’s King from a tree right next to the Spitz and it only reached about 15.5. It is a variety known for a high level of sweetness.

I Just started a batch or Hard cider and was looking at the different scales on the hydrometer. 22% brix could make a 12% alcohol cider which would be unheard of. What am I missing?

Be great if there was a hard cider forum here. I’m just starting to think about making some. I have all of the stuff for a small batch.

Yes, we don’t have that much cider expertise here that I know of.

22% brix is very high for apples and they usually run in the mid teens.