On a gorgeous sunny July afternoon I sat on a picturesque stone wall at Dwight Miller Orchards in Dummerston, VT, with Malah and Read Miller. During our time together they indulged me in all things related to growing fruit and running one of the oldest orchards in Vermont. Their family has been growing fruit here since the 1800s, while living on the land since the 1700s. Running an orchard takes hard work, perseverance, flexibility, and a great family. Each year brings its own set of successes, hardships, and innovations—with the year 2021 having a solid apple harvest outlook.
I used to dislike apples when I was a kid, but then I tried heirloom apples from Scott Farm Orchard, and I realized it wasn’t that I didn’t like apples, I just wasn’t eating the right ones! Have you ever tasted an Ashmead’s Kernel, a Pitmaston Pineapple, a Knobbed Russet? How about a Reine des Reinettes? With their strange names and crowd-pleasing flavors, these historic gems (heirloom means they’re over 100 years old) are a world away from the mass market fruits trucked in from Washington State.
I am always grateful when the first apples of the season are ripe and ready to enjoy. Every year by late summer, I am anxiously waiting for the new apple crop to be harvested. In spite of the all the other fruit choices available during the summer season, I feel a void in my diet without a crisp delicious apple—nothing hits the spot like a tart early local apple! I eat one every day when they are available. Some of my favorite early varieties are Paula Red, Ginger Gold, Zestar, and Sansa. And of course the choices don’t stop with those—there will be many more to choose from, along with all of the heirloom apples that have such unusual and fabulous names.