Heritage Apples are the apples of our Grandparents and Great-grandparents. Their uses were varied–for drying, frying, fresh eating,Halloween treats, baking, brandy, cider (hard and sweet), vinegar, livestock feed, and much more. The diversity of their shapes, sizes, colors,textures, tastes and times of ripening was amazing. For every early farm family an extensive orchard was essential. As more and more land was settled, a well developed orchard was a sure sign that civilization had reached the American frontier.
These old timey apples are part of our agricultural heritage, but they are rapidly being lost forever. The trees are being cut down and the older people who remember the apple names are passing away. The window to still find and save these wonderful apples is rapidly closing.
Tom Brown of Clemmons, NC, became interested in finding and saving these apples in 1999. Some of the results from this effort are presented here. The apple trees are saved for future generations to enjoy by donations of scionwood to heritage apple nurseries and preservation orchards, plus trees are grafted for return to their original counties. To date over 1,000 apple varieties have been discovered, with an actual original tree being found in each case.