fruit is world-famous for flavor and appearance. Our philosophy is
to produce the highest quality fruit possible by focusing on a few
select varieties that do especially well in this region. Betsy says
the world can be divided into two kinds of apple lovers; those who
like pies made with McIntosh and those who prefer pies made
with the firmer Northern Spy. Once she knows which you are,
she can always recommend the right apple for the time of season.
ship the very best of our harvest every year to customers across the
country, beginning in September. To learn more about our apple shipping,
please visit our King
Orchards online store.
Heritage apples, sometimes called heirloom or antique apples, are the old
varieties that have stood the test of time. Each variety represented here has been in
cultivation for at least 75 years, and represent the best of the old-time
apples our grandparents and great-grandparents knew and loved.
have consistently ranked at the top of the list of most popular varieties in Michigan for over 100 years,
and are still going strong today.
"Spys for pies!" says Nan, the pie baking champion of Central
Lake. She should know, as she has been cooking apple pies
for the swiss steak dinners at the Methodist Church every
third Saturday of the month for years and years. Up here,
people know their pies and endurance and competence are synonymous
when it comes to baking. This famous 200 year old variety
has been considered by some experts to be the best apple ever
produced in the United States. If you like an old fashioned
apple, bite into one to find out why our ancestors went to
so much trouble growing fruit. Last fall, Betsy saw our local
photographer rumaging around in the cooler and asked him what
he was looking for in there. When he said he was trying to
find a good looking Spy, she replied that there was
no such thing. He kept searching anyway, and the result proves
that besides being the best cooking apple, and a tangy, juicy
eating apple, the Spy can even on occasion be a "looker".
A suprisingly good eating, tangy old fashioned apple, Cortland
is also famous for cooking and baking. Many of our customers
prefer this apple for sauce, running it through a food mill,
(skins and all for a nice pink color). A cross between
McIntosh and Ben Davis, Cortland is especially
favored for salads due to its resistance to browning. It is
a large apple that ripens mid-season. It was developed in
New York in 1898.
The incomparable and venerable
is our favorite traditional apple. Here in northern Michigan with our warm,
sunny fall days and cool evenings we grow the best Macs in the country. It
originated in nearby Ontario, and has historically been a strong regional
apple. We grow more of this variety than any other. Excellent for eating fresh,
in pies, salads, and sauce, you can't go
wrong with the
These apples are the newer varieties that have been developed specifically for
what in the old days was called the dessert trade, as opposed to culinary or
market trade. In modern parlance dessert trade means fresh eating. The
exception to this statement is the Ginger Gold, the result of a fortuitous
accident of nature, rather than intentional cultivation. It certainly ranks
right up there with the best of modern high quality eating apples, however.
Many old time apple lovers have been pleasantly suprised by the flavor of
these new varieties, especially Ginger Gold and Gala.
is a newer variety, but it is quickly becoming our top fresh
eating apple. It is very crisp and juicy and has a sweetness
reminiscent of honey. Honeycrisp is an exceptionally good
was created at the University of Minnesota in 1960 by cross-pollinating
Macoun and Honeygold varieties. It does best in northern
regions and is now the most popular fresh-eating apple in
Oh, do we love this early-ripening apple. A sweet, firm Golden
Delicious-type variety, everyone loves this new gourmet
apple. They aren't the best keepers, so we have to enjoy them
while they are around.
This variety came from a seedling that apparently was
the result of a seed washed into the orchard of Clyde and
Ginger Harvey (near Charlottesville, Virginia) by Hurricane
Camile in 1969. It was named, of course, for Ginger Harvey.
Another high quality gourmet dessert apple with an outstanding
flavor. Gala has added a new dimension to the apple
season, giving us a sweet early apple that has a beautiful
appearance and keeps all season long. It ripens along with
McIntosh, giving us two different superb choices
to offer customers early to mid season. It is a great eating
apple and cooks well, too. (The apple pie that took first
prize at the Michigan State Fair last year was made with
Gala). This is one of the varieties we have chosen for
our high density orchard.
Jonagold is a newer variety that is a cross between
Golden Delicious and Jonathon. A unique combination
of Jonathon tartness and Golden Delicious
sweetness, these are large apples that are beautiful in appearance.
Juicy and crunchy, they are great for eating and are a good
cooking variety, as well.
Year after year customers come back asking for that "mitzoo"
or "muloo" or "isuzo"; they may not remember the name but
they do remember the apple. It is the apple we recommend for
those who want "hard and tart". When first picked they are
green and hard like a Granny Smith, only better with more
flavor. A Mutsu is also one of our best keepers. If stored
in a cool basement or refrigerator they will keep past Christmas.
However a Mutsu will change as stored to a sweet yellow apple
and resemble a Golden Delicious. Mutsu is a newer
variety that we are very excited about. It is a cross between
Golden Delicious and Indo, and was developed
and introduced in Japan. Similar to Golden Delicious,
it is firmer, and tarter. Mutsu is a large that
apple that keeps extremely well and sweetens as it ages while
The most popular 20th century American apples feature sweetness, consistent
visual appeal, and widespread consumer acceptance. Since the 30's the two
varieties Red and Golden Delicious have represented as much as 90 percent of
all apples grown in this country. Both first appeared early in the century and
have steadily risen in popularity. Paula and Ida are two relatively newer
cultivars, appearing in 1960 and 1942 respectively. Empire was first cultivated
in 1966 and Jersey Mac in 1971.
Paula Red is a beautiful variety that originated
right here in Michigan. It is an early McIntosh type
apple. Hard and tart to start the season, it sweetens and
softens as it ripens. It was discovered in 1960 as a chance
seedling near Sparta, Michigan, and is thought to be descended
from McIntosh. This is the best early season snacking
apple, perfect for back-to-school lunches.
This a great kid's apple. It juicy and crunchy and not too
big (perfect for small hands). Empire is a cross
between Red Delicious and McIntosh, with
the mild tartness and juiciness of McIntosh and the
sweetness of Red Delicious. The popularity of the
Empire is steadily growing in the United Kingdom,
and the bulk of the demand is being met by Michigan growers.
Developed in New York State, and named for the Empire State.
Sweet, oh so sweet! Golden Delicious lovers swear
by the sweet taste of this, the second most popular American
apple. It comes from a chance seedling in West Virginia and
its parents are thought to be Golden Reinette and
Grimes Golden. There is very little not to like about
this apple. Thin-skinned, crisp, firm, juicy flesh, with a
unique aroma and flavor. Many cooks use it extensively because
it's natural sweetness allows them to use less sugar in recipes.
Hard and tart, big and red; that describes this apple. It
is an exceptional variety for it's keeping quality and wonderful
for cooking. True Ida fans are faithful and prize it for both
eating and baking. We have one customer who travels down from
the U.P. (the upper peninsula of Michigan for you out-staters)
every year to pick up three bushels to see her through the
winter (not just any old apple will see you through a yooper
"He who knows the apple tree knows also its region. The landscape is his in every blessed year; he sees the chariots of the months come down from the distances and pass by him into the twilights. Clouds are his and the repeating shadows on the hills. The morning when the blossoms are laden with the fragrance of the night, high noon when the bees are busy, the gloaming when the birds drop into the boughs, these are his by divine right. The smell of the new-plowed fields is his, with the urgent promise in them. Seed time and harvest, as old as the procreant earth and as new as the latest sunrise, are his to conjure. The verities are his for the asking, the strong things of the cultivated fields and of wild places. And mastery is his, that comes from the amelioration of the land and the education of the tree. All these are everyman's, and yet they are his alone." -Liberty Hyde Bailey, The Apple Tree, 1922