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Dolgo and Whitney crabapples

Posted by Robyn Bipes-Timm 
Dolgo and Whitney crabapples
May 02, 2020 07:32AM
Hello all, and thank you for allowing me to join this group. I am very new to apple orcharding. My question is I am looking for any advice, fascinating back stories, pruning tips or uses of both Whitney Crab and Dolgo Crab. I have two very large, mature trees that put out tons of pretty but (so far to me) unusable fruit because I’m not sure what to do with the bounty. That’s about it—wide open to any responses that can deepen my knowledge of these two varieties.

As backstory, by “new to orcharding” I’ll share I’ve been intermittently puttering around a backyard family organic apple orchard of some 30-odd trees for 10 years or so, on the few weekends every other month we come down along the river to Wisconsin from the Twin Cities. This mini orchard is on my husband’s family’s organic farm on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi; some call this the Driftless Region. His father planted and cared for these apple trees as a side hobby to the 400-acre organic fields (and being the local rural doctor) for 20-some years, with what we’ve lovingly called “benign neglect”. His father died in 2016 a few months after we were married, and everyone divvied up duties to keep the place in decent shape. I got the brambles and then by way of no one else caring (loving) the apple trees as much as me, I got those too. The benign neglect continues although my honest love for this orchard grows each year. Enter the coronavirus, and we escaped the city and have been living here for the last few months. The one silver lining has been my ability to live with these trees every day and watch and learn. I’m hoping to learn much more through this group, and the obvious loving expertise of many here. It’s intimidating to post in this forum… But here goes and thanks for any advice on those crabs. We have 15-some other varieties of regular apples I hope to learn more about in other threads.

Robyn Bipes-Timm
Wisconsin above the Mighty Mississippi
Zone 4b



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/02/2020 02:51PM by Michael Phillips.
Re: Advice for amateur Dolgo and Whitney crab?
May 02, 2020 05:34PM
Is your intention to make cider? (your post is in the Cider Apples subject)
Dolgo is very high in acidity, too high to use in large quantity in a cider blend. If you have a lot of sweet apples, you could then maybe add 10% of Dolgo if you need to increase the acidity... For my part, I make a spread with my Dolgos, something in-between a jam, a butter and a jelly. Absolutely fabulous on toasts for breakfast.
Whitney is much less acidic with a good sugar content and nice crab flavor, and very useble in cider. It ripens early however and becomes mushy rapidly. You need to press it quickly. It blends with some early ripening bittersweets and other apples of the same season for what I call the First season cider.
Claude

Jolicoeur Orchard
Zone 4 in Quebec
(Author, The New Cider Maker's Handbook)
Re: Advice for amateur Dolgo and Whitney crab?
May 02, 2020 11:58PM
Thank you Claude. Yes cidering is my hope, we press many of our apples to make cider (regular and hard) in the fall but have always left the crabapples out. I guessed the Dolgo might be too much, I’ll try introducing just a small percentage as you recommend.

Side note our Whitney would be great to blend but the only truly early apples I have are three trees of Yellow Transparent. Those I’ve not used in cider only in applesauce so far—I love how early they come while the rest of the family wants to just “tear them out because they’re not good for anything”. I disagree and am trying to preserve them via finding good uses. So maybe I’ll try a mix with YT and Whitney plus a few go-to others for balance. Thanks for the advice.

Robyn Bipes-Timm
Wisconsin above the Mighty Mississippi
Zone 4b
Re: Advice for amateur Dolgo and Whitney crab?
May 03, 2020 12:51AM
Robyn Bipes-Timm Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Side note our Whitney would be great to blend but
> the only truly early apples I have are three trees
> of Yellow Transparent.

For me, the Whitneys are not that early... I don't use Transparent in cider, it is much too early, too acidic, and doesn't contain enough sugar. I do ferment some, but essentially for making an excellent vinegar.
My "first season cider" is made with early-mid-season and mid-season apples that ripen in September. By then the Transparents would be all rotten...

Jolicoeur Orchard
Zone 4 in Quebec
(Author, The New Cider Maker's Handbook)
Re: Dolgo and Whitney crabapples
May 06, 2020 01:02PM
Whitney here is also not that early either, certainly not with Yellow Transparent. Something everyone should consider with early season fruit is to press and freeze the juice in order to blend later with richer fruit, especially if you are trying to stretch volume a bit. This also allows some cryo-concentrating if need be. I agree with Claude on the Dolgo, it can be a little tart in high volume. They are one of my favorites to eat fresh these days, and makes superior jelly. Better in fresh than hard cider, but good in a blend at low volumes. Crabs in general can be helpful, but I prefer the highly tannic ones, which although tart do add the needed astringency that Dolgo and other sweet/tart crabs lack. We use a lot of Selkirk here for instance. Whitney is non-offensive, and in my opinion behaves a lot more like a dessert apple, good for most uses including a cider base.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
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