If you visit your local supermarket, you will find the most common apple varieties offered – Gala, Fuji, McIntosh, Honeycrisp and a few others. But, did you know Wisconsin grows around 300 varieties of apples? Many of these heirloom apples are excellent for fresh eating, cooking, baking or even apple cider. Some of these one-time favorite apples have lost their popularity but can still be found at Wisconsin’s apple orchards. Here are just a few of the more interesting varieties as described in The Illustrated History of Apples in the United States and Canada.
· Wolf River is an apple that originated in Wisconsin in 1852. So the story goes, a Quebec lumberman moved his family from Canada to Wisconsin. Along the way he purchased a bushel of apples. Saving the seed, he planted them near Fremont in Waupaca County on the Wolf River, hence the name. These large apples can grow up to one pound each and are excellent for baking. It has been said that one Wolf River apple will make a pie.
· Still a popular apple is the Fameuse or Snow apple. It is believed to have come from Canada around 1700 where trees were distributed throughout Quebec and northeast U.S. near Lake Erie by French missionaries. The name Snow apple may be due to its very white flesh, the fact the tree tolerates cold weather, or because the apples store well into the winter.
· The Lady apple is a very old apple originated in France but stories report that it may date back to Roman times. It is noted that the Lady apple was grown in the gardens of King Louis XIII in 1628. This small, sweet and highly aromatic apple was carried in the pockets of ladies at that time as a deodorant or perfume.
Stop by a Wisconsin apple orchard to try these and many other varieties of apples. Ask the grower to tell you about them. You may find some “new” favorites.
Can’t stop by the orchard? The Wisconsin Apple Growers Association is partnering with some of our family orchards to bring consumers a variety of Wisconsin-grown apples shipped right to your door! The Wisconsin Sampler Box contains a selection of favorite and heirloom apples. You may not get the apples mentioned above, but you will find some totally different varieties you may never have tasted.