Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gilpin (Carthouse)

Gilpin is a cider apple, so it may or may not be good to eat.

Bitter? Sourball? Let's see.

This medium-sized fruit is ribbed, lumpy, and riddled with stress-lines of russet.

It's pretty well blushed over yellow-green, dark in spots. The small light lenticels get lost with all the other stuff on the surface of this apple.

Gilpin has a cidery aroma and a shiny, waxy skin.

Inside Gilpin is yellow flesh, medium fine-coarse, firm but dry and more chewy than crisp. It oxidizes fast--as I write this, before I am even done with my first bite.

This is not a sour apple, indeed all its flavors are quite mild. The best part is at the beginning, where there is the most sweetness and juice, fresh with a hint of berries. Alas that fades quickly and the chew dries out as some bitter notes of the peel assert themselves. In between there is something a bit like potato.

Meanwhile the apple flesh develops deep brown sections and streaks on contact with the air, not an attractive prospect.

Of course none of this signifies for hard cider, but I wonder what virtues Gilpin brings to the cider press.

It's not especially sweet (which balances for eating, though, because there is next to no acidity) so no great mass of sugar (useful to make alcohol). It has no compelling flavors sweet or sour, though the initial fleeting taste is all right.

At first, European settlers would have made cider from whatever pippins were handy. I imagine that for Gilpin to have been cultivated for cider it must have been especially good for something.

Lee Calhoun's survey of apples of the South (where this variety was known as Carthouse) says Gilpin was thought a good keeper whose bruises did not rot. That would have been worth something back in the day.

He also reports it grows crisper in storage, which would be something to see. I have no more Gilpins this year though.


  1. Gilpin is a very late apple, so it probably wasn't ready yet. here are a few quotes I've collected. I haven't grown it out. I had a tree started this year, but it died.

    "The varieties mentioned, except Gilpin, are not adapted to general cultivation. The juice of this apple is, however, exceedingly rich and, if mixed with the orchard varieties generally cultivated, will make excellent cider." >>

    " A handsome cider fruit, from Virginia, which is also a good table fruit
    from February to May.""Flesh yellow, firm, juicy, and rich, becoming tender and sprightly in the spring. Good."
    >> <<

    "1 have come to the conclusion, that
    were I to cultivate only three varieties of apples in this part of the country, I should cultivate the summer pearmain, yellow bellflower, and the Carthouse. These three varieties would give a succession of fine fruit from some time in August, until the ensuing spring" "" It is highly esteemed for its excellence as a table apple late in the spring" ""the flesh is very
    firm, yellow, and rich, not fit for eating until
    mid-winter, when it becomes juicy, tender, and
    finely flavored"" (quoting coxe)
    > <

    1. Turkey, it didn't seem unripe, but of course you never know. (And New England would ripen later than the South.)

      By the way your last link is to another variety entirely—I daresay you had more than one browser window open when you looked this one up. Perhaps you meant to link to the Farmers Register of 1842?

    2. Yeah, it appears to be the wrong link, thanks for fixing that. It sounds intriguing from the descriptions. It's probably not the best apple ever, but the super long keeping is of interest. It seems like more of the American Cider apples are dual purpose and not necessarily the bitter spitters that the majority of the English cider apples are. That of course is very practical. I'm leaning toward the dual purpose myself right now. If I can make decent cider out of Gilpins, or make a pie in may, or store them for livestock feed in a big pile in the shed, that sounds like a pretty useful apple.


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