There are several different apples that originated around New England called Pumpkin Sweet. The most famous is a big, greenish-yellow one from Connecticut. There is a red one from Downeast Maine found growing in Orland, and there’s this one, from Mt. Nebo Orchard in Mt. Vernon, Maine. There may be others. ‘Pumpkin Sweet’ is one of those names that got attached to very different apples in very different places, back when the oral folk tradition was alive and no one much cared what someone was calling their apple a few states away – or even a few towns away. It’s a wonderful name for a big, sweet apple. This Pumpkin Sweet is not what we would call a dessert fruit. John cooked up some with his oatmeal and was very pleased with the result. Peel and slice them up, add a half cup of oatmeal, bring it to a boil and then cook them slowly for about 20 minutes. Cheddar and Pumpkin Sweet apples make a great combo for topping pizza. They are great in the recipe for Apple Brownies featured in this October 2012 issue of Martha Stewart Living. (also found in the recipe section of the OOAL Blog). You'll also find a recipe for a delicious apple chutney made with Pumpkin Sweets that was great on crackers with cheddar cheese.
Pumpkin Sweet: The Bittersweet Discovery
(from the October 2012 OOAL Newsletter)
by John Bunker
Abbey and I picked the Pumpkin Sweet at Mt. Nebo Orchard in Mt. Vernon, Maine.
I had heard of this apple years ago but had never visited Mt. Nebo and its owner, Manley Damran. Perhaps it was too much out of the way. Just over 2 weeks (Sept. 2012) ago a friend contacted me with the terribly sad news that Mr. Damran had been killed in a freak car/tractor accident. We decided to go visit the orchard with an offer to help in any way we could. When we first arrived, we found the orchard abuzz with U-pickers and an assortment of volunteers; following the tragedy, the support from the surrounding community was huge.
After that initial visit, we returned a few days later and put together a map of the orchard. There was a note card on the wall of the orchard shed with some notes about the varieties, but most trees were unidentified. No one there knew what was what. We sorted out the varieties, and then we picked the Pumpkin Sweets.