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The Crisp, Sweet Local Fall Apples of Ohio

By: Dennis Chrisman | Vice President of Human Resources, Produce Director
On: October 02, 2015

Grandma always made the best stuff. Her “apple pies” as she called them were actually more like individual apple treats and the memories left by each bite are still sweet. They were shaped like a stuffed turnover and fried on the stove. I wish I would have watched her more closely as she made them from scratch, but instead I was always busy fishing at her pond that sat over the hill and beyond the pasture. Grandma never had a chance to taste some of the varieties that come to mind when you think of apples today, like Honeycrisp or Fuji. She made her pies with older varieties, like Stayman-Winesap and Golden Delicious.

What you may not realize is that some of these older varieties that grandma used are still popular and locally grown here in Ohio by farmers we partner with, like Jerry Volk and Rich Eshleman. One apple we love to get from Rich is the Melrose Apple. Originally developed here in Ohio, the Melrose is a cross between a Red Delicious and a Jonathan. The sweet yet tart flavor is a perfect combination for this “official apple of Ohio.”

Rich is located in Clyde, Ohio, just south of Lake Erie where the climate along the water brings perfect growing conditions for his apples. Rich graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in horticulture and has traveled across the country cultivating his experience before laying down roots here in Ohio.

Meanwhile, Jerry and Betty Volk’s orchard is in Casstown, just northeast of Troy, Ohio. On a recent visit, I was very impressed with the pride they take in their small orchard and the supple fruit it produces. Gala, Honeycrisp, and Ginger Golds are just a few apples we tasted straight from the tree. This is not easy work, but Jerry (76 years young) still loves it. Most of the apples are picked by Jerry and his grandson Dan, who carefully watches how his grandpa takes care of the orchard.

Dan told me that as long as his grandpa is able to, he will be working the trees. This mentality will keep Volk Fruit Farm vibrant for decades to come. Meanwhile, Betty operates the retail market located on the farm. She is the expert on uses for the different varieties. You’ll often see Betty sharing tips with her customers on which apple will make the best pie. I can’t help but wonder if Betty knows my grandma’s recipe?