Foxwhelp (or Fauxwhelp)
About 50 years ago, two bittersharp English cider apples were imported into the US, probably as scionwood (grafting twigs). One was the famous Kingston Black, and the other was Foxwhelp(s). English cider apples were not selected for fresh eating qualities; they are known for their high astringency and are most often unpalatable when eaten fresh. They also tend to be small-sized. It turns out that the Foxwhelp that was propagated in the US did not fit the profile of the typical cider apple. It is big, juicy, tart, decent fresh-eating and makes a good pie. Ever since we tasted the fruit from our tree here at Super Chilly Farm, we wondered why anyone would call it a cider apple.
Other American cider makers were also suspicious about Foxwhelp. Apple growers in the UK recently confirmed that the apple is not Foxwhelp. So what is it? It may have been that the original grafting scionwood that came into the US was incorrect. Or it may be that the first grafts were mislabeled. It could also be that the US Foxwhelp is actually a rootstock from a botched graft. In any event, it now seems that the mistake is widespread and that no one in the US has the real Foxwhelp. The mystery is compounded by the fact that there are multiple Foxwhelps in the UK. Still, the US version isn't a match to any of them.
In the winter of 2012, John Teiser, noted English cider apple historian, sent us scionwood from four of the UK Foxwhelps: Red Foxwhelp, Broxwood Foxwhelp, Improved Foxwhelp, and Rejuvenated Foxwhelp. These are all currently in quarantine at the USDA’s farm in Beltsville, MD. We hope they will be released soon so we can grow them out and solve the mystery once and for all.
In the meantime, you can enjoy "Fauxwhelp" as a dessert apple or a cooking apple. John once baked a single variety Foxwhelp pie. We were all pleasantly surprised: the flavor was quite tasty, but it did sink more that we would have liked. For that reason, we recommend that you mix it with other varieties. Or try it as sauce. Keeps until December.