Esopus Spitzenberg Apple

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Esopus Spitzenburg is an antique apple variety discovered by a Dutch Settler early in the 18th Century near Esopus, NY, along the Hudson River. For over 200 years this apple was the choice dessert, cider and culinary apple variety. Noted English author Hogg wrote at the end of the 19th Century that the Esopus Spitzenburg is "a most excellent dessert apple." Favored by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, this apple, unexcelled in quality and pleasing appearance, is referred to as the first of the apples.

Esopus apple trees blossom in Mid-April with a light pink white flower. The apple's color is a commingling of light and dark red on a rich yellow background with a dark red blush on the cheek facing the sun. The apple is medium to large in size, nicely formed in an oblong-conic shape. The dense flesh is white yellow.

The exceptional taste of the Esopus is slightly sub acid, crisp and juicy. It is spicy and aromatic. The sugar content is high and balanced with floral acidity. Harvesting at the right time of season is crucial to capture the beneficial values of the fruit. The late season harvest is traditionally stored to let starch convert to sugar, the acidity drops and subtle aromatic compounds develop with storage. This is an apple variety that improves with aging and can keep three months or more.

Grown in New York Hudson Valley between 1807 and 1812, by the 1900's, the cultivation of the Esopus apple had spread throughout the United States, where climates allowed. This slow growing cultivar should be grown in full sun (6-8 hours a day) on a well-drained gentle slope. The tree adapts to a temperate climate tolerating cold winters followed by warm seasons.

Once widely cultivated, over time it nearly disappeared. It is not an easy tree to grow, challenged in vigor and health, yet with proper orchard management this uncommon apple variety is worth the challenges. Conservationists proclaim, "An apple a day keeps extinction away."

Currently orchardists are intrigued with the diversity and character of antique apple varieties. There is a willingness to meet the challenges of reviving these varieties, bringing back apple diversity prized by connoisseurs and consumers alike. In New York State, as of 2014, there are approximately 700 apple growers concentrated in the Lake Ontario and Hudson River Valley region.  As orchardists follow the demand stimulated by heightened awareness of local food culture, there is a willingness and recognized economic value to planting Esopus Spitzenburgs and other unique varieties to the landscape.

Apple varieties in the grocery store represent such a minute percentage of the varieties of apples grown. There are thousands of apple cultivars that are commercially extinct, but not biologically. As the consumer, culinary professionals, and spirit makers experience and then request Esopus, there is great potential to move the apple market away from the uniform, waxed, always-availabile varieties grown for shipping and long shelf-life. A rennaissance of historic apple variety production can revitalize our farming communities. Keeping alive the apples of our grand and great grand parents is essential.

Sustaining these tastes for future generations is indeed nourishment of mind, body and spirit.


Showing page 1 of 4 for 24 listings

Soons Orchards

  New Hampton, NY    LocalHarvest Sponsor!

Soons Orchards and Farm Market has been promoting local food since 1910! We grow over 50 varieties of apples and many varieties of peaches, including white peaches plus nectarines. We also grow many types of summer vegetables, winter squash, pumpkins, and the best sweet corn. (more...)


Skipley Farm

  Snohomish, WA

Uber organic ; all pick-your-own(PYO) or we pick-farmstand sales 200+ varieties of Heirloom and Cider Apples as well as the popular varieties, e.g. (more...)


Scott Farm Orchard

  Dummerston, VT

The 571-acre Scott Farm, a Landmark Trust USA property, is home to 125 varieties of ecologically-grown heirloom apples and other fine fruits, a seasonal Farm Market, and the Apple Barn Event Center. A popular wedding venue, the farm is surrounded by four authentically-restored historic year-round vacation rentals. (more...)


Sandpoint Orchard

  Sandpoint, ID

Sandpoint Orchard is a USDA-Certified Organic orchard located in Sandpoint, Idaho. We specialize in antique and heirloom tree fruit, including apples, pears, cherries, and plums. We currently grow 68 different varieties of apples, many with origins dating back hundreds of years. (more...)


Rancho de Rodney

  Fresno, CA

Rancho de Rodney is run by Rodney Wells and his wife Sherril. Rodney spent 30 years on active duty with the US Navy, 15 of those on submarines, retiring as Command Master Chief/Chief of the Boat. A Kansas native who grew up in Compton, California, Rodney graduated magna cum laude with an A.S. in mechanized agriculture from Reedley College. (more...)


Pairie Vews

  Chapman, KS

Our micro farm is on a mission to provide a diversity of delicious vegetables and flowers to our community through the Farmers Markets, local restaurants, and stores. We utilize bee and wildlife friendly methods, biodiversity, nutrient-dense farming, and soil health enhancement. (more...)