Experts Share the Best Fruit Varieties in America

Doreen G. Howard shares fruit experts opinions on the best fruit varieties in America.

| August/September 2002

Apples, peaches, pears and plums: Fruit experts name the best fruit varieties in America.

Only fruit growers and their lucky friends get to enjoy the sublime flavors of succulent, tree-ripened fruit. When compared to bland supermarket fare, just one bite into a homegrown, richly perfumed "Forelles" pear or "Sweet Sixteen" apple, with its sweet, anise essence can turn a fruit lover into an ardent fruit grower. A group of fruit enthusiasts, known as the North American Fruit Explorers, paired up with MOTHER to share their favorite fruits — and growing tips — on the following pages. Read about the best fruit varieties in America, and learn how you can grow the most flavorful fruit in your own orchard.

Destined for supermarket bins, commercially grown fruit varieties are selected primarily for their appearance and their shipping and storing qualities: Flavor often becomes secondary. Peaches, plums and apricots are picked before they're ripe, so they don't bruise during shipping. When these soft-fleshed fruits eventually do ripen in shipping boxes or on store shelves-their flavors are bland because they were deprived of sugars that naturally develop when the fruit ripens on the tree.

Even hard fruits like apples and pears suffer the same fate. "'Gravenstein' apples are unsurpassed for aroma and flavor when allowed to fully ripen," says Betty Mayfield, a grower from Rainier, Oregon. "But the green ones sold in stores are not ripe. Extra time on the tree until red stripes appear pays off in superb fruit."

"Betty, a member of the North American Fruit Explorers, is one of many throughout the United States, Canada and other parts of the world who are committed to the discovery, cultivation and appreciation of exceptional varieties of fruits and nuts."

Antique and Ultramodern Fruit in America

You'll find some of the most delicious and oldest varieties of fruit in the orchards and back yards of NAFEX members, and in preservation orchards such as Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa, where the Seed Savers Exchange is based, and Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Worchester, Massachusetts.

3/21/2007 9:19:19 AM

One flavorful University of Minnesota apple that might appeal to amateur fruit growers in colder climates is 'Keepsake'. It stories for a very long time, but only develops its flavors after it has been in storage for a while.

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