I've recently been asked if I would supply a certified organic farm with the garlic I grow, if I should decide to expand and certify my land. As I toured the property I am looking at to certify, I notice about 40-50 young wild Appletrees.
I've been asking around and aside from acquaintances being excited to hear they maybe able to someday buy some wild Apple juice, I can't really get feedback from actual Apple juice producers as to whether or not this could be a viable product. I have seen some small produces of wild apple juice online but I'd really like some first hand experience.
Have any of you made juice from your wild Apple trees, and was it the bomb or was it a bomb?
The land is now naturalized so I could have an organic certification within 15 months and I know several organic growers who sell at markets. Any thoughts welcome.. I also happen to own a small fruit press and access to a more industrial as I live quite close to several large and small apple orchards.
Yes that makes sense.. I do a lot of forestry work so I have tasted hundreds of wild apples, some amazing and some not so amazing so based on that experience I'd say even if half the trees were crap, they become root stock for the better ones... Thank you, I hadn't considered that before now!
There are a few older trees but most are between 1 and 6 years old, this spring will be the first time I see that fruit so fingers crossed👍
Just this week I drank some pressure canned juice I harvested from what I *think* was a wild apple tree. I scrumped it from the side of the road where a single large apple tree was - I don't know if someone explicitly planted it there, or if a bird dropped a seed there, some twenty years back.
It wasn't bad juice, kinda good. But the flavor will vary highly from tree to tree - because apple flavors vary highly. I've had some canned apple juice that was just too tart, others that were sweet. Depends on the tree.
Because you have a small thicket of apple trees, and because apples vary when grown from seeds vary dramatically, likely you'll have some good apple flavors and some bad apple flavors.
Supposedly, the best apple juices come from mixing a wide variety of apples together, so this may work in your favor. And if you notice some apples just taste terrible, you can cull those trees (and use the wood for smoking on your grill =P).
But to be extra sure, here's what I'd personally do: (I am no apple expert - I'm still waiting for my planted apple orchard to come to fruit - this is the year they will)
A) I'd plant some trees you know are good. Honeycrisps, as well as known good cider (juice) apple tree varieties. Plant a variety of flavors, but also plant extras of Honeycrisp (or a related Honeycrisp hybrid - some commercial operations are going heavily into a new variety called Cosmic Crisp, and there's other ---crisp varieties). Add these to your wild trees, as part of the same grove.
B) I'd try eating some of the apples, and the apples that taste disgusting, probably have disgusting juice. (Note: an apple might still have good flavorful juice even if it's *texture* is too meally or the appearance isn't appealing or shape mishapen, so try to distinguish between bad mouth *texture* and genuine bad flavor). You may need to test twenty or so apples from the tree - and several weeks apart from each test - to really determine if you got an actual ripe apple (appearances may look ripe, but be overripe or under ripe) or got a bad apple. Any trees that are genuinely consistently bad, should probably be culled (maybe try fertalizing around it for a year and testing again before culling though? I don't know).
C) I'd also plant five or six pear trees, of several varieties. A few years back, I scrumped some apples (from an unrelated tree - explicitly planted near a church), and was allowed to pick some pears from a neighbor's pear-tree. The 1/3rd pear juice, 2/3rd apple juice combo was heavenly - my sister and I drank that stuff down immediately - and it was only a single variety of pear and a single variety of apple. That's something I intend to market locally when my trees come in: apple juice, honeycrisp juice (should at a premium in grocery stores), and also apple-pear juice (appear juice? applear juice?).
D) Making hard liquor apple cider is extremely risky (it's like moonshine - people can go blind and etc... which is why I've never tried it), and likely involves all sorts of goverment liquor regulations. But you know what isn't hard, and often comes out good? Apple ""wine"" (and plum ""wine"" and pear ""wine""). These made like regular grape wine, and takes a little practice to get right, but isn't complicated, and doesn't require huge investments. It's a big hit in my family when my mom makes it, and zero risk of complications like making hard cider. There are likely still government regulations in marketing this stuff, but with the safer wine-like process, regulation may be less strict (most vineyards are small businesses, so regulation may even be favorable).
(I put ""wine"" in quotation marks, because technically, unless it's made from a grape, it's not wine - though terminology is confusing. With Pears it's called Pear Perry, so this may be called Apple Perry, but some people call it Apple Cider (or Pear Cider), even though it's a completely different fermentation process, others - like me - call it apple wine, as it gets the idea across clearest, in my opinion. Apple liquor would be another good term to use).