Appalachia Gardening Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia

June Apples

June Apples

A few days ago Blind Pig reader David Templeton left the following comment:

Tipper, when we were kids back in East Tennessee (way east, Tri-Cities) there was a very common apple tree, we called them “June apples” or “June Apple Trees”.  Lots of people had them and they were … well, everywhere.   The apples were yellow, of varying size, kinda like some apples that are called “transparent” apples, but yellow …  pale yellow.  This time of the year they should be everywhere but I have not seen a “June Apple Tree” anywhere.  Maybe it’s not soon enough, yet this year.

Do you know “June Apple Trees”?

I had never hear of June Apples until I started writing here on the Blind Pig. Not sure which commenter shared their memories of June Apples with me first, but over the years there has been several readers mention them.

Because of those comments I’ve kept my ears and eyes out for anything about June Apples.

A couple of weeks ago a friend at work had several apples sitting on her desk. When I asked about them she said a fellow at the gas station had given them to her that morning, said he told here they were really something special that they were June apples.

My friend could see the interest in my face and told me I could have all the apples that she didn’t want them.

I happily walked off with her apples, but truthfully they weren’t no where close to the best apple that I’ve ever had, in fact they weren’t that good at all. I’m not sure the apples donated by the gas station attendant were even really June apples. They were not the yellow color that David described.

Here are several comments shared by various Blind Pig readers over the years about June Apples.

Ed Ammons: My grammaw had a big June Apple tree in her pasture. She forbade us to eat them until after the 4th of  July. She couldn’t even see the tree from her house but we respected her orders and the ones that fell off before the 4th were consumed by the cows. Some of the apples did ripen in June but most waited until the middle of July.
Some of the apples had candy in the center. They looked just like the rest but the more you ate the sweeter they got and the harder they got. Near the core the flesh was almost clear and as sweet as sugar. Only a small percentage were “candy apples” and there was no way to predict them. I wonder if anybody else has experienced them.

Ethelene Dyer Jones:  Comment 1: Fruit–apples–from early June apples until the last of the fall crop was wrapped by individual apples and stored in a barrel to eat at Christmastime, we had apples (fruit) in Choestoe. And then, until they came in again with the June apples–dried fruit and canned fruit, apple cobbler from sliced canned apples, and fried fruit pies. Bounty, indeed! Comment 2: June apples getting ripe meant stack cakes made from the June apple sauce. Then came drying apples (we had to put the slices in a screened-wire flat cage to keep the bugs off while they dried in the sun! In the wintertime it was still stack cakes and the sauce between layers was made from the coooked, sweetened to taste and spice-up dried apples. Yum!

Bill Burnett:  The favorite apples of my youth were June Apples which came off a tree beside Licklog Creek on the edge of my Uncle Pearson Dehart’s place as they ripened first and Horse Apples from my Grandpa Andy Dehart’s place up on High Lonesome as they turned Glassine with sugar when ripe and made the best Apple Sauce and Spiced Apple Cakes and Fried Pies I ever tasted. Sadly both of these trees are gone but their memory lives on.

Kerry in GA:  I love June apples. Up until a few years ago I had access to 2 different trees. They make the best apple sauce and my kids loved it when they were babies.

Gary Powell: My favorite apples were the June apples that ripened on the tree beside my Granny’s house. For some reason it grew on about a 45 degree angle before it straightened up, I guess the wind blew it over when it was small. I could get a running start and run up the trunk far enough to reach a limb. If one of the apples fell off the old hens would run as fast as they could to try to beat me to it.

Brenda S ‘Okie in Colorado: Growing up and raised by my Granny, she had pear, June apple, peach, mulberry trees. She raised a garden, canned, helped her neighbors gather their garden and can, she searched the country roads and creek banks for poke. I remember how she would wash that mess of poke about 5 times to get the sand out, boil it twice, then sauté it in bacon fat. A lot of work for a little mess of poke, but, wow, was it good with corncakes, fresh garden green onions and tomatoes.

——————-

So to answer David’s question, no I don’t know June Apple Trees, but a whole lot of Blind Pig readers know them.

If you have memories or knowledge about June Apples please tell us about it in a comment.

Tipper

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30 Comments

  • Reply
    F L CAMPBELL
    August 9, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT KIND OF APPLES ARE THESE, PLANTED ABOUT 25 YEARS AGO IN Rast Tennessee? thought i could add a foto.
    they’re green but not granny smith,, very tart.

  • Reply
    Linda Goodrum
    February 8, 2020 at 7:53 pm

    Hello, from Tennessee, we had June apples. We had a whole row of them. My mother would make the best pies. And then we would help peel, slice then put them out to dry. I wish I could find some trees like them. They never had worms or bugs get on them. They were the best apples I have ever had. Let me know where I can get some. Linda Goodrum from Hornsby, Tennessee

  • Reply
    Danny Johnson
    June 22, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    June 22 2019
    I just fried a batch of June apples and took them to our sales room for people to try. Only one person had any idea as to what they were. But if I had more trees this year I could have started passing out samples earlier, because I first cooked them on the 25th of May this year
    65 years ago we had over 2000 Trees of “June apples”, Transparent, Early Harvest, Lodi and Henry Clay. Now we have 2 trees for us to eat on. From the 5th of June, depending on the year I would spend the rest of the month either picking, packing or hauling these apples. Wholesalers would buy 250 Bushels at a time and people would be waiting in line to purchase them. They would buy them by the bushel to make apple sauce and to freeze so they could fry them at a later date. We operated around 300 acres at that time and we still froze them to fry during the winter. This apple needs no spices or flavors. It only requires some salt and lots of sugar to give you that sweet tart flavor that can only be found in June fried apples.
    I have gotten lazy in my old age so here is what I do.
    Note once this apple is ripe (Yellow) it makes a wonderful mild apple sauce.
    I start with a gallon of Green June apples
    Don’ you dare peel them!
    I make 4 cuts around the core cutting the sides off.
    I then chow them or slice them up (sometimes I slice the sides with a food processor)
    I now use a non-stick pan sprayed and add 2 table spoons of olive oil unless I have bacon or ham grease.
    I had a small amount of water 1/4 cup and put the stove on high. (Remember the wood stoves did not have dials on them) and I cover the pan.
    Cook stirring every few minutes to keep from burning.
    When some apples start to mush, I remove the lid.
    Add 1 1/2 tsp of salt and a cup to 1 1/2 cups of sugar (according to taste and how green the apples were.
    Stir in and continue to cook and stir until a golden brown.
    Remove from burner and stir until danger of burning is over.
    Enjoy with a hot biscuit.
    Enjoy on a sandwich cold. Or eat as a side dish hot or cold.
    It is a treat that you cannot beat from old man Danny!

  • Reply
    Linda Goodnight, author
    July 23, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    I stumbled onto this blog in my search to find the name of the tree we had always called “June Apple”. I want to plant one in my yard. When I was a kid many years ago, June apple trees were common in Oklahoma, and my Granny had one in her back yard. Every summer I couldn’t wait to climb that tree and eat my fill. The apples were crisp and slightly tart and a light green color.
    I’d love to know the name of it so I can buy a tree.

  • Reply
    Shane Maxson
    July 18, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    We have an heirloom orchard at our farm in Burnsville, NC. Early Drop is the first variety to ripen and has yellow apples like the ones described. They are a decent cider apple and come on mid to late June. Another yellow early summer apple is the Lodi. They are an Appalachian favorite and make great cider and sauce. Neither keeps well but the Lodi is a pretty good eatin apple too.

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    July 13, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Very interesting! Never heard of them til now. I do remember being cautioned about eating crab apples, that you’d get an awful belly ache from it, and when I had my appendix attack at age 4 or 5, for a time my mother thought I’d snuck eating some crab apples until I started running a temperature. Then she knew no apple caused that and took me to the doctor. Good she did too, cause my appendix had burst and I needed surgery right away.
    Prayers everyone’s having a great week, and a safe one too.
    Prayers for police officers nationwide too.
    God bless.
    RB
    <><

  • Reply
    sheila brown
    July 13, 2016 at 7:50 am

    When I was a child growing up in the Beaverdam community of Haywood Co. N.C. Daddy would pick June Apples every year for momma to can. Momma made fruit (apple sauce) dried apples and fried apples. I can remember some of the fruit would have a pinkish tint to it. Does any one remember seeing that? I also remember momma didn’t sweeten all the fruit she made. We would have fruit sweetened, along with freshly made butter and biscuits for breakfast and unsweetened fruit with any kind of pork dish that she cooked. I don’t know why but, that’s how she did things back in the day. I haven’t seen June Apples in many years. I have often wondered if there is still June Apples around today. Thank you Tipper for bringing back so many memories.

  • Reply
    Grumpy
    July 13, 2016 at 7:31 am

    To Mr. Templeton,
    Check out Urban Homestead in Bristol. He sells June/Yellow Trans apple trees. Plant mid-November in your area & don’t forget a good pollinator. Request for June apples, Horse apples (mentioned here) and other old varieties got him into the nursery business if memory serves. Near Southern States if memory serves.
    To all,
    The Horse apple is another delight and another source of confusion. The thing typically shown online as a Horse apple is an Osage Orange used for decorative purposes. Again, check David Vernon’s Century Farm for a good picture and description. Great drying apple that comes in about August. Sadly, it’s memory was largely dead when the “all knowing” Internet was born.
    Happy eating everyone.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    July 12, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    Tipper, thank you for showing your readers my June Apple Tree question. Reading all of the comments from your readers has been a real pleasure. They let me put together a pretty exact description of the apple that matches my recollections. What a good time, reading all their stories and comments. I bet I can still find a tree, up in Kingsport. Right now, the ground under the tree should be covered with apples.

  • Reply
    Grumpy
    July 12, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    Paula Rhodarmer (posted at 0947) nailed it. This is an apple whose thought makes me salivate. A plate of eggs and bacon, buttered biscuits and fried apples appear before my minds eye. Bit of background…
    The Yellow Transparent came as one of the early USDA (or its forebears) imports. They needed good apples for the upper midwest. Apples that bloomed late and came in early. (Most don’t understand the importance of apples pre-refrigeration nor how big of a deal this was.) It is often referred to as the “Yellow Trans” in many parts of the country at farmers markets and fruit stands. It comes in late June or early July and doesn’t keep well. Two weeks in the fridge is pushing it. But….
    It makes an amazing pan of fried apples. I’ll give y’all, and only y’all, the secret recipe. (1) Get some. (2) Cut them up, peels and all. Slice thin with skin on each piece for best taste. (3) Fry in pan. (4) Put the seasonings/flavorings down, leave them out of this. They are only used when you are starting with the wrong type of apple. (5) Lick spatula while pan cools. (6) Put on butter biscuits and grin while eating. (7) Make a mess more to freeze.
    We picked/sliced/fried/froze a pile of these each year when I was young. Still do, hence trees in my yard. FWIW, check Century Farm Orchard for great comparison. Nice guy, great trees.
    Now, bonus info…
    These trees are confused with the Lodi by many roadside apple experts . Two different beasts. (This comment is in reference to the folks I see raising and selling apples with no clue as to what they are doing or telling customers and is not aimed at those posting here.)
    There is a RED Carolina June apple as mentioned above. Again, different beasts.
    The June apple of the old South (and your grandparents yard and my yard) is the Yellow Trans. But we all just call it the “June Apple” because it comes in in June.
    They really aren’t the best for eating out of hand. Soft, bit mealy and bit tart. But they are for frying and applesauce so that is irrelevant.
    Warm some on a cold winter night.
    Warm some and put over cool vanilla ice cream as you watch the summer’s sun set.

  • Reply
    Jackie
    July 12, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    My grandmother had an apple tree that she called ‘June Apples’. They were yellow, sweet and soft when ripe and ripened before any others. They caused a belly ache that led to some awful tasting medicine when eaten green. The medicine may not have been given for a cure, but rather to discourage little boys from eating the green
    apples.The apple pictured doesn’t look like what I remember but that tree died some 60 years ago.

  • Reply
    Frank
    July 12, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Hi Tipper, growing up, I was raised on an orchard in NE Pa… Never heard of a “June apple” before, but this looks similar to a Lodi apple… Man does the orchard bring back lot’sa memories!! Once again, thanks for tickling them!!
    Cheers to all!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    July 12, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Since I commented before on June Apples and how we had them in Choestoe, and the good desserts, canned apples, and applesauce we made from them, I won’t repeat that. But I just wonder if the “old timey” June Apple Tree has lost “seed”–that is, if it has phased out with time? I would like some research done about this with seed and plant companies. Do June Apple trees still grow and produce in our mountains?

  • Reply
    Ronnie L.
    July 12, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    There’s an apple tree at my parent’s house in southern West Virginia that we always called a June apple. They are ripe and falling off the tree right now. The apples are very tart and don’t taste good at all raw. But when they are cooked they are delicious. When I was a teenager my great aunt lived next door to us and I picked her some one day. A little while later she hollered for me to come over and taste her fried apples. They were delicious, better than any my Momma had ever cooked. I told her so and asked her what she had done differently. She grinned and said she had put fat back in them. They were the best I have ever tasted.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 12, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    There was a tree my Dad called a June apple at my Grandma’s. The apples ripened the earliest among the dozen or so trees, though I do not recall if actually June. They were a bright red on the shoulders, fading to lighter red near the middle and with some green left even when ripe. The peel was soft and the flesh very white with tiny red streaks just under the peel. They didn’t last long, about 3 weeks I guess. The closest apple I know to it is the McIntosh. I do not have a clear memory of the taste. I just recall my brother and I loved them and ate some almost every day while they lasted.
    The tree had a pronounced downhill lean and finally fell over. That was a sad day.

  • Reply
    Ed
    July 12, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    The two apple trees growing on our land when I was a kid produced their fruit in June and July. These June apples ranged in size from golf balls to an occasional giant that was almost as large as a tennis ball. They gradually changed in color from pale green to light yellow as they ripened with no hint of red. The yellow ones were moderately tart with a touch of sweetness; the green ones just plain sour. These apples attracted numerous large iridescent green bugs that we called, appropriately, June bugs, and the June bugs were a magnet for us kids. Never mind why we sought out the June bugs.
    I know that most of us believe the foods that were on the table when we were children were the best that we have ever eaten. Even when I exert maximum effort to be objective, I firmly believe that the apple pie and the apple sauce that my grandma made with these June apples were the best that I have ever tasted.
    I cannot think about that June apple pie without thinking of my grandma who most often made it. She had only one functional arm – her left arm was atrophied and not functional as a result of a childhood polio infection. She raised a family and lived independently well into her 80’s with her one functional arm. I don’t think she viewed herself as having a disability, and I know that her grandchildren didn’t view her in that way. These picky grandkids preferred that the apples be peeled and sliced in their apple pie. Because the June apples were so small, my grandma peeled and sliced many apples to make a single pie. To do so, she placed her “little arm” on the kitchen table and used that hand to brace the apples as she peeled them with her other hand. I wonder how many of those apples my grandma peeled during my childhood and adolescence.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 12, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    The reason I only mentioned Grammaw’s June apple tree is because it was the earliest around. I suppose that was due to its being out in the pasture where it got lots of sun and fertilizer, plus the cows kept down the undergrowth that might complete with it. We had several June apples up on Wiggins Creek. We also had Red and Golden Delicious trees. One tree was both. Daddy grafted a Golden onto a Red.
    Apples are not true to type. They almost always have to be pollinated by another variety in order to produce viable seed. The chances of all these June apples we are talking about being the same variety are pretty slim. The only way to be sure of getting the same apple every time is by grafting a twig from an older tree onto a young tree of a hardy variety which may not be so good to eat. In essence the tree you grow is actually the old tree living on.
    I’m sure there are GMO apples on the market now or soon will be. These laboratory produced things will probably take over like Roundup Ready corn and soybeans. I’m getting too old to worry too much about the effects of all this but I have grandkids!

  • Reply
    Ken
    July 12, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Tipper,
    Finally, after reading all the comments, Jerry in Arkansas got it right. The June Apple Tree just above our house was a Pinkish-Red Apple and so good. My brother Harold could climb better than anyone I’ve known and he’d climb right to the top and pick the Red ones that were the best. Then he’d share with me and my 2nd cousin. This tree was at least 40 to 50 feet high, been gone for many years now, but those memories just won’t away. . . Ken

  • Reply
    Shelia
    July 12, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    My brother and I (we live beside each other) have had visitors every twilight/just before dawn for a few weeks now. A small herd of deer is following a path to the woods behind our houses. Brother put out some June apples he’d got at our uncle and aunt’s old Swiss farm in Gruetli-Laager, Tennessee, about 40 miles west of us. He said the deer gobbled those apples up! I remember June apples from my childhood. The tree was common back then, but not so much now. Mama told us not to eat too many, we’d get a bellyache.

  • Reply
    Kim Stalcup
    July 12, 2016 at 11:33 am

    There is still a June Apple tree between where Harvey & Bertha’s old place & our old driveway is. It’s close to the road. Larry has started a small orchard out at the old place (we still have the family garden & bees out there too) & has some June Apple & heirloom apple trees started. He laughs & says that he may never get to see any fruit but my son should get to enjoy them! 🙂

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    July 12, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Another wonderful memory reminder! I remember the tree well as it stood maybe 60 feet from the front door of my Grampa’s old home place. I recorded memories of the home and family, but I failed to mention that ole tree. Mom called it an early transparent, and I remember the sweet taste well. I have not seen nor eaten one of those for years. It is a sure thing that no child will want to sit for supper if they have had available those early apple trees. I was perhaps 3 years old when I got in trouble for turning over the free range chicken water under that tree. My aunt put worms in the water to deter me, and I had nightmares about worms for weeks. I think my Dad had to discourage my aunt from using fear to prevent children from being naughty.
    Thanks, Tipper, for once again letting me recall memories of a child who once lived in the slow lane.

  • Reply
    Richard Beauchamp
    July 12, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Hello Tipper ! The apple described in the original article is known here in Kentucky as a cheese apple. They make delicious apple sauce,’
    My Great Grandmother Pickled peaches and as a boy I loved them. She used a variety called Indian peach. It was cling stone and real red color before pealing and the fruit its self had a red tent to it.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 12, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Tipper—The June apples I fondly recall from boyhood did indeed ripen in late June or early July, but they were strictly a cooking apple. Pucker-power sour, they made wonderful applesauce or pies but eating them raw was another story. Mind you, I tried, and Grandma Minnie would just shake her head and mutters something about foolish boys, sour apples, and stomach aches. There was a fine tree in my grandparents front yard as well as one in the yard of Mrs. Lillie Quiett just across the street. Mrs. Quiet, a widow woman, didn’t want them so Grandma had plenty to put up. She’d make a run or two of apple sauce but also dried them for fried apple pies. Just the thought of those days and those delicacies puts my salivary glands into involuntary overdrive. The keys to June apples are cooking, lots of sugar (or honey), and spice.

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    July 12, 2016 at 10:39 am

    I remember the june apple.the yellow one,just as Paula Rhodarmer described them.They tasted good to a bunch of hungry boys.The apple I liked best was the horse apple,but it was much later in the season.It was a huge yellow apple.I don’t know if that is the same horse apple mentioned in one of the post or not.
    LG

  • Reply
    Barbara Gantt
    July 12, 2016 at 10:02 am

    We would go visit my Greataunt in Waynesville every year around July 4th. She had a yard full of apple trees, all old and fun to climb. They were called June apples. I remember them as being green with a little yellow on some. My Daddy always said that you eat thme with salt and too many would give you a belly ache. I grew up thinking that they were the early yellow transparent apple. I think people ate them before they were ready. Barbara

  • Reply
    Misty
    July 12, 2016 at 9:48 am

    I have always wanted to visit this guy:
    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2011/03/03/garden/03garden.html

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    July 12, 2016 at 9:47 am

    I remember two different apples being referred to as June Apples. There was a bright red apple called a Carolina June Apple and then locally there was a type of yellow transparent called a June Apple. The yellow apple was not really the best for eating fresh, but you could not match it’s exotic flavor as a fried apple. These yellow apples bruised really easily so you had to be quick about gathering and putting them up. Just one day on the ground could cause brown spots. The riper they get the more yellow they become. When they were heated they just fell apart. Most often they were fried with the peels left on. The red June Apples were often used for jelly or sauce because of their bright pinkish-red color when cooked. These just may be local names for apples around here, I don’t really know for sure what they are called.

  • Reply
    Misty
    July 12, 2016 at 9:46 am

    There is a tree beside Britton’s store that produces right now. He said the variety was called either “striped June” or “Margaret”.
    I had one on some property that I used to own. It was always my intention to go back and get some cuttings and graft them onto some new trees. Unfortunately, the tree fell before I had a chance to save the cuttings.

  • Reply
    Jerry in Arkansas
    July 12, 2016 at 8:07 am

    I remember June apples from my childhood, but ours were red when ripe. I have a poem called “The Old June Apple Tree” written by a local resident in 1935 and published in the county newspaper. In the poem, the writer describes the apple as being red. We live in south Arkansas which is a long way from Appalachia.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 12, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Yes, my Granny had a June Apple tree, also called Early Transparent, it grew in the chicken lot. The closest thing to them that I know of is a golden delicious and that would be a Golden Delicious like you buy in the grocery store, not the ones from a neighbors tree. I’m not at all sure what they do to the Golden Delicious that you buy in the grocery but I think they re terrible. An early transparent is a softer milder apple. I really don’t care for them but I guess they were so revered because they were the first apple of the season. I prefer a firm slightly tart apple. My very favorite is a Mutsu Apple.

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