Category Archives: About Apples

What is the Best Eating Apple?

We get asked this question a lot: “What is the best apple for eating.”

Well, the reason there are so many apple varieties today (7,500 worldwide) is because everybody’s taste is different. Also keep in mind that different apple varieties are better for different things. Such as, the Macintosh is best for pies because of its flavor and firmness. We will try and highlight the most popular, and our favorite, along with a few other varieties for different tastebuds.

Red Delicious, Rome Apples, Golden Delicious Are the Bottom of the Barrel.

Europeans have a different idea of what makes a good-tasting apple than Americans do. Americans are so accustomed to sugary foods that the majority of them also prefer the sweetest apple variety which is Red Delicious. The most commercialized apple in the U.S at one time also known as Red Chief Red Delicious, it has seen its day. There are many variations of the Red Delicious such as the Red Rome, Red Romance.

If you are any kind of apple connoisseur at all, you would probably believe, as we do, that the Red Delicious is actually the worst-tasting apple variety ever created. It is usually always mushy, mealy and lacks any real flavor. Often the skin can be downright bitter and tasteless. Red Delicious was created specifically to satisfy the commercial food industry’s desire for sweeter foods, but as an apple grower, the person who invented the Red Delicious apple should consider it a huge failure.

In the 1980s, ‘Red Delicious’ represented three-quarters of the harvest in Washington State. A decade later, their heavy reliance on ‘Red Delicious’ almost pushed Washington state’s apple industry “to the edge” of collapse. In 2000, Congress approved and President Bill Clinton signed a bill to bail out the apple industry, after apple growers had lost $760 million since 1997.  By 2000, the Red Delicious apple made up less than one half of the Washington state output, and in 2003, the crop had shrunk to 37 percent of the state’s harvest, which totaled 103 million boxes. Although Red Delicious still remained the single largest variety produced in the state in 2005, others varieties have grown in popularity in the U.S, notably the ‘Fuji’ and ‘Gala’ and now the Golden Delicious; all which have a better flavor than Red Delicious.

Fuji, Gala, Braeburn, Jonathan, Honey Crisp Apples Are at Least Crisp.

Europeans like apples with some tartness, some sweetness, some good flavor, and definitely crisp. The commercial varieties the European consumer usually chooses are Fuji or Gala, however, while we will give Fujis and Braeburns credit for being good “sweet” eating apples, there is a great deal of variance with the Gala varieties. They can also often be mushy and tasteless, but yes, sweet. However, these varieties still pale in flavor to some of the heirloom apple varieties that are considered less popular only because the commercial apple industry does not supply them to store.

apple on tree closeupOur Favorite Eating Apples.

If you don’t mind a little bit of tartness in an apple, you will find more wonderful flavors in many other varieties.

The Pink Lady has an amazing blend of sweet, sassy goodness that cannot be rivaled in our opinion. Although is is not considered one of the sweetest apples, it is our favorite hands down for it’s intricate and complex flavor that reveals itself in a gradual release as you eat it. Even thought is has this complex flavoring it is still a relatively sweet apple just the same. Always crisp with just a slightly pink blush to the flesh. Our number one favorite for many products as well as eating right off the tree. Many people consider the Pink Lady apple to be the champagne of apples and the best dessert apple.

Winesap is a more sophisticated version of a Red Delicious in our opinion. While very similar to a Delicious apple, the Winesap still has enough individuality to make it much more flavorful than a Red Delicious and crisper. Akin to a cross between a Macintosh and a Delicious.

Cox Orange Pippin is similar to the Gala apple variety but never fails to be crisper than Gala and with a bit more robust flavor. Some nursery suppliers are now calling the Orange Pippin and “antique” apple because it originated in old England in 1825.

Finding any of our favorite varieties, or Europe’s “Old English” favorites, in stores is difficult these days. Due to it’s high ranking among apple enthusiasts, there are a great many Pink Lady imposters on the market. Although this variety is starting to make a big comeback, true Pink Lady cultivars were almost extinct due to the lack of interest in them a few decades ago. So finding a true Pink Lady apple takes really knowing what to look for in appearance and taste. Unfortunately, due to crossing it with so many other varieties to try and replicate it when the supply of true root stock is limited, you will be hard-pressed to find a true Pink Lady in the stores.

Granny Smith and Sour Apples.

A recent study revealed that Granny Smiths are the best apples to help you lose weight. That is one reason to eat them. There are some people who love the tartness of a good green apple. Newer variations of the Granny have come out to tone down the tartness a bit in some sour apples. They are not as green with a slightly yellow tinge to the skin. However, you will rarely find the more mild sours in your local supermarket either. Our Grannys have a one-of-a-kind flavor since they are pollinated with the other varieties in our orchard. They are sour with an sweet spicey after taste. If you like green apples, you will love these.

There are new varieties of apples being created constantly. You may notice that the varieties in the stores change their names every couple of year. Many of them are the same apples but just given a new name  to make them seem new and different. The best apples will always come from an older orchard that does not grow apples for the commercial grocery industry. Until Americans get off the sugar kick and realize sweet is not better, develop their tastes a bit more, you will not find a really good apple in the grocery stores. A good apple should have a sophisticated flavor, and not be all about tasteless sugar and mushy textures.

And now I’m sure you want to know which are the best pie apples. Right? See our post on pie apples.

Why You Should Eat Those Sour Granny Smith Apples

Which Apple is a Granny.

Even if you are not an apple variety expert, most of us know which one is a Granny Smith apple. They are the green ones that are sour enough to make most people pucker. My grandfather used to eat them after sprinkling a little salt on them and he got me hooked on this odd habit when I was a kid. Somehow, the salt almost seems to cut the puckering sourness, which is probably why the old-timers ate them that way.

You either like sour, tart foods or you don’t, but even if you don’t, you may want to reconsider giving this emerald gem another try. To some apple eaters, this is their favorite variety, and now they have another reason to eat the sourest of the apple varieties.

Recent Research on Apples and Obesity.

In a study published in the journal Food Chemistry in 2014, a team of researchers analyzed how the bioactive compounds of seven different varieties of apples – Granny Smith, Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, McIntosh and Red Delicious – affected the good gut bacteria of diet-induced obese mice.

granny smith apples slicedThe researchers found that, compared with all other apple varieties, Granny Smiths appeared to have the most beneficial effect on good gut bacteria. They suggest that their findings may lead to strategies that prevent obesity and its associated disorders.

This goes along with the recent popular trend of consuming apple cider vinegar to improve gut health as well. Being a fermented product of the apple industry makes apple cider vinegar (ACV) extremely beneficial for the stomach.

So don’t wince and scurry passed those green apples in the markets. If you just can’t get over the tartness, try my Grandfather’s trick of sprinkling them with a little salt before every bite. It may prove well worth it.

Do we sell Grannys at Bluebird Orchards? You bet we do. Available this fall harvest season.

To read more apple health benefits, click here.

Benefits of Apples

Just what are the nutritional benefits of this #1 ranked health food according to Medical News Today?

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is an old Welsh proverb that most of us are familiar with, but what makes this fruit so special?
As one of the most cultivated and consumed fruits in the world, apples are continuously being praised as a “miracle food”.

Apples are extremely rich in important antioxidants, flavanoids, and dietary fiber.

The phytonutrients and antioxidants in apples may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

Apples deserve to be called “nutritional powerhouses”. They contain the following important nutrients:

  • Vitamin C – a powerful natural antioxidant capable of blocking some of the damage caused by free radicals, as well as boosting the body’s resistance against infectious agents, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.1
  • B-complex vitamins (riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin B-6) – these vitamins are key in maintaining red blood cells and the nervous system in good health.
  • Dietary fiber – the British National Health Service2 says that a diet high in fiber can help prevent the development of certain diseases and may help prevent the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood from rising.
  • Phytonutrients – apples are rich in polyphenolic compounds”. These phytonutrients help protect the body from the detrimental effects of free radicals.3
  • Minerals such as calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Apples, with skin (edible parts) nutritional value per 100 grams

I have type 2 diabetes, can I eat apples?

 According to the American Diabetes Association, “Apples are a nutritious food and you can still eat them even if you have diabetes.” The Association reminds people to eat the peel and advises on buying small apples (2.5 inches in diameter). A study involving 187,382 people found that people who ate three servings per week of apples, grapes, raisins, blueberries or pears had a 7% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not.

Should I eat the apple peel?

Most of the fiber and antioxidants are in the peel, says Dianne Hyson, Ph.D., R.D.6, a research dietitian at UC Davis in the Department of Internal Medicine.

[3D representation of a brain]

Improving neurological health

Another study presented at the same conference and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease suggested that apple juice consumption may increase the production in the brain of the essential neurotransmitter acetylcholine, resulting in improved memory among mice who have Alzheimer’s-like symptoms. 8

It should be noted that both studies were funded by unrestricted grants provided by the U.S. Apple Association and Apple Products Research and Education Council.


Apples preventing dementia

[granny so happy about her granny smith apple]

The researchers found that including apples in your daily diet may protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity and may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.


Apples reduce your risk of stroke

The researchers concluded that the intake of apples is related to a decreased risk of thrombotic stroke.

Apples Lower Bad Cholesterol:

A group of researchers at The Florida State University stated that apples are a “miracle fruit”. They found that older women who ate apples everyday had 23% less bad cholesterol (LDL) and 4% more good cholesterol (HDL) after just six months.


Other Health Benefits of Eating Apples with the Skins:

  • There is also evidence suggesting that an apple a day may help prevent breast cancer, according to a series of studies conducted by prominent Cornell researcher Rui Hai Liu
  • In a study published in the journal Food Chemistry in 2014, a team of researchers analyzed how the bioactive compounds of seven different varieties of apples – Granny Smith, Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, McIntosh and Red Delicious – affected the good gut bacteria of diet-induced obese mice. The researchers found that, compared with all other apple varieties, Granny Smiths appeared to have the most beneficial effect on good gut bacteria. They suggest that their findings may lead to strategies that prevent obesity and its associated disorders.

Apple Facts

Apple Facts – according to the University of Illinois Ext.

Nature’s perfect snack has many secrets we bet you didn’t know:

  1. The crabapple is the only apple native to North America.
  2. Apples come in all shades of reds, greens, and yellows.
  3. Two pounds of apples make one 9-inch pie.
  4. Apple blossom is the state flower of Michigan.
  5. 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States.
  6. 7,500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the world.
  7. 100 varieties of apples are grown commercially in the United States.
  8. Apples are grown commercially in 36 states.
  9. Apples are grown in all 50 states.
  10. Apples are fat, sodium, and cholesterol free.
  11. A medium apple is about 80 calories.
  12. Apples are a great source of the fiber pectin. One apple has five grams of fiber.
  13. The pilgrims planted the first United States apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  14. The science of apple growing is called pomology.
  15. Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit.
  16. Most apples are still picked by hand in the fall.
  17. Apple varieties range in size from a little larger than a cherry to as large as a grapefruit.
  18. Apples are propagated by two methods: grafting or budding.
  19. The apple tree originated in an area between the Caspian and the Black Sea.
  20. Apples were the favorite fruit of ancient Greeks and Romans.
  21. Apples are a member of the rose family.
  22. Apples harvested from an average tree can fill 20 boxes that weigh 42 pounds each.
  23. The largest apple picked weighed three pounds.
  24. Europeans eat about 46 pounds of apples annually.
  25. The average size of a United States orchard is 50 acres.
  26. Many growers use dwarf apple trees.
  27. Charred apples have been found in prehistoric dwellings in Switzerland.
  28. Most apple blossoms are pink when they open but gradually fade to white.
  29. Some apple trees will grow over 40 feet high and live over 100 years.
  30. Most apples can be grown farther north than most other fruits, because they blossom late in spring, minimizing frost damage.
  31. It takes the energy from 50 leaves to produce one apple.
  32. Apples are the second most valuable fruit grown in the United States. Oranges are first.
  33. In colonial time, apples were called winter banana or melt-in-the-mouth.
  34. The largest U. S. apple crop was 277.3 million cartons in 1998.
  35. Apples have five seed pockets or carpels. Each pocket contains seeds. The number of seeds per carpel is determined by the vigor and health of the plant. Different varieties of apples will have different number of seeds.
  36. World’s top apple producers are China, United States, Turkey, Poland and Italy.
  37. The Lady or Api apple is one of the oldest varieties in existence.
  38. Newton Pippin apples were the first apples exported from America in 1768, some were sent to Benjamin Franklin in London.
  39. In 1730, the first apple nursery was opened in Flushing, New York.
  40. One of George Washington’s hobbies was pruning his apple trees.
  41. America’s longest-lived apple tree was reportedly planted in 1647 by Peter Stuyvesant in his Manhattan orchard and was still bearing fruit when a derailed train struck it in 1866.
  42. Apples ripen six to ten times faster at room temperature than if they were refrigerated.
  43. A peck of apples weight 10.5 pounds.
  44. A bushel of apples weights about 42 pounds and will yield 20-24 quarts of applesauce.
  45. Archeologists have found evidence that humans have been enjoying apples since at least 6500 B.C.
  46. The world’s largest apple peel was created by Kathy Wafler Madison on October 16, 1976, in Rochester, NY. It was 172 feet, 4 inches long. (She was 16 years old at the time and grew up to be a sales manager for an apple tree nursery.)
  47. It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.
  48. Apples account for 50 percent of the world’s deciduous fruit tree production.
  49. The old saying, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” This saying comes from an old English adage, “To eat an apple before going to bed, will make the doctor beg his bread.”
  50. Don’t peel your apple. Two-thirds of the fiber and lots of antioxidants are found in the peel. Antioxidants help to reduce damage to cells, which can trigger some diseases.
  51. In 2005, United States consumers ate an average of 46.1 pounds of fresh apples and processed apple products. That’s a lot of applesauce!
  52. Sixty-three percent of the 2005 U.S. apple crop was eaten as fresh fruit.
  53. In 2005, 36 percent of apples were processed into apple products; 18.6 percent of this is for juice and cider, two percent was dried, 2.5 percent was frozen, 12.2 percent was canned and 0.7 percent was fresh slices. Other uses were the making of baby food, apple butter or jelly and vinegar.
  54. The top apple producing states are Washington, New York, Michigan,Pennsylvania, California and Virginia.
  55. In 2006, 58% of apples produced in the United States were produced in Washington, 11% in New York, 8% in Michigan, 5% in Pennsylvania, 4% in California and 2% in Virginia.
  56. In 2005, there were 7,500 apple growers with orchards covering 379,000 acres.
  57. In 1998-90 the U.S. per capita fresh apple consumption was around 21 pounds.
  58. In 2005, the average United States consumer ate an estimated 16.9 pounds of fresh market apples
  59. Total apple production in the United States in 2005 was 234.9 million cartons valued at $1.9 billion.
  60. In 2006/2007 the People’s Republic of China led the world in commercial apple production with 24,480,000 metric tons followed by the United States with 4,460,544 metric tons.
  61. In 2006/2007 commercial world production of apples was at 44,119,244 metric tons.
  62. Almost one out of every four apples harvested in the United States is exported.
  63. 35.7 million bushels of fresh market apples in 2005 were exported. That was 24 percent of the total U.S. fresh-market crop.
  64. The apple variety ‘Red Delicious’ is the most widely grown in the United States with 62 million bushels harvested in 2005.
  65. Many apples after harvesting and cleaning have commercial grade wax applied. Waxes are made from natural ingredients.
  66. National Apple Month is the only national, generic apple promotion conducted in the United States. Originally founded in 1904 as National Apple Week, it was expanded in 1996 to a three-month promotional window from September through November.
  67. On August 21, 2007 the GoldRush apple was designated as the official Illinois’ state fruit. GoldRush is a sweet-tart yellow apple with a long shelf life. The apple is also the state fruit of Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

Secret of Apple Cider Vinegar’s Benefits

More Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits:


The Secret That Makes Apple Cider Vinegar So Beneficial

Many viruses, including the cold and flu, thrive in an acidic environment. Because of our modern diet, most of us have acidic body pH.

Even though it’s tart, apple cider vinegar primes your body to become more alkaline.

And when your body’s more alkaline, a lot of positive things happen:

  • You start metabolizing more energy, which boosts mind and body
  • You promote higher levels of antioxidants in your blood
  • You sleep deeply and wake up refreshed

Which Vinegar Will Give Me the Boost I Need?

Not all vinegars are created equal.

For example, those cloudy-looking ones that you probably avoid at the grocery store?

They’re packed with alkalinizing compounds.

And once you get the right vinegar in your hands, the ways you can use it to cleanse your life are endless. ACV is among other things…

  • An all-purpose cleaning solution with ACV that literally costs pennies and takes 5 minutes
  • A simple foot scrub to heal corns, blisters, and calluses
  • A 100% natural way to replace your weed killer with apple cider vinegar
  •  weight loss supplement.
  • The single best way to kill mildew on the spot

History of Apple Cider

Apple Cider – A History

Apple cider has quite a history in the United States. The first apple trees made it to Boston in 1623 and they were widely planted by the early 1800’s. Cider, hard cider in those days, was a drink from the old country which quickly established itself here in the 18th and 19th centuries. Before the development of preservative techniques, fresh cider rapidly and naturally fermented into hard cider. This was considered a way to “store” your apples after season being thought of as a safe and family drink. In fact, cider was regarded as safer than drinking water, due to the lack of effective water treatment. Presidents like John Adams popularized the health benefits of cider as it became the drink of choice for early Americans.

In the mid-1800’s, cider production began to decline due in part to urbanization, the introduction of beer and the temperance movement. In 1899, 55 million gallons were produced which by 1915 or so was down to 13 million gallons; and then in 1919, production declined even further as prohibition was the law of the land.

Since the apple varieties used to make “hard” cider were not suitable for making a “fresh” cider, many orchards converted to sweeter cultivars, actually taking out or burning their cider trees. When prohibition ended, the damage was irreversible to the hard cider industry, as the trees were gone and new plantings would take years to establish.

During the mid-1900’s, many Wisconsin apple growers produced “fresh” cider. Most orchards and many homeowners had cidermills that would turn out raw cider in the Fall of the year.

In the 1990’s, new FDA rules called for the pasteurization of any cider not sold directly from the orchard that pressed it to the final consumer. Plus, any cider sold direct had to carry a warning label that the product may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in those with a compromised immune system. This was another hit to the apple cider industry, causing many producers – including Wisconsin apple growers — to get out of the cider business.

But, this is not the end of the story! Nationally, in the last 10 years, cider has begun making a comeback. In 2004, national hard cider production was reported at 4.25 million gallons and by 2011, that had more than doubled to 9.2 million gallons! Euromonitor expects U.S. cider sales to grow 10.6 percent on average, or 65 percent overall, from 2011 to 2016, with beer as a whole down 1 percent.

In 2013, it was reported that the United States had 202 cideries, coming second after the United Kingdom with 300.

Wisconsin has seen similar trends. In the last ten years, nine cideries have been established producing hard cider in Wisconsin and more are starting up. They crisscross the state being located in Bayfield, Burlington, Stockholm and Ellison Bay as well as places in between. It is evident that hard cider is a developing industry in the state.
On the fresh cider front, the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association represents 170 commercial apple growers from across the state. In 2012, of those reporting, 53 indicated that they sold cider. Of that, 50% indicated they sold “natural” (raw) cider and 50% indicated they sold pasteurized cider. Some sold both.
Provided by the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association.