Smokehouse is a seedling of the ancient American variety, Vandevere. Smokehouse originated in Lampeter Township, PA about 1800 adjacent to William Gibbons’ smokehouse. Although the fruit was named for the smokehouse, in a happy twist of fate the fruit lives up to its name as it looks smoky, colored with a muted blend of yellows, greens and a reddish-brown blush. The long, willowy branched tree bears large crops annually and is easily recognized in the orchard.
This all-purpose apple is still quite popular in home and commercial orchards in Pennsylvania and occasionally in central Maine. Smokehouse is most admired as a culinary variety, particularly for pies. In the The Fruits and Fruit trees of America (1845), A.J. Downing calls it, “rather rich subacid.” We like its subtle flavor right off the tree. For Bennett, our seven-year old neighbor, this apple is tops! Keeps well into late winter.