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The Smokehouse Apple

Whether you’re new to the apple farming game or a seasoned veteran, the Smokehouse apple should be on your to-do list. These apples are loved as much for their delightful taste as for being reliable and productive. Their easiness to work with makes them great for young planters, and their productivity makes them a tempting commercial product.

If you think that the Smokehouse apple is one that you’re interested in, you’ve come to the right place!

Closeup of yellow and red apples on a tree, similar to the Smokehouse apple.

History of the Smokehouse Apple

The hometown of the Smokehouse Apple also happens to be the home of one of the largest Amish communities in the United States. Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is well-known for being an Amish hub, but it’s also well-known for being one of the top apple-growing communities in America. While Lancaster is now where most Smokehouses are grown, the very first tree was actually planted in Millcreek, PA.

Smokehouse apples were first introduced to the market way back in 1837, making them one of the oldest heirloom varieties still grown today. The apple is so-named because it was first spotted growing next to the smokehouse of William Gibbons in the early 1800s.

View of an Amish horse-drawn carriage on a country road in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Characteristics of the Smokehouse Apple

The Smokehouse apple is also known as English Vandevere and Gibbons Smokehouse and is an heirloom apple. The tree itself is very vigorous, productive, and adaptable. While it was originally only grown in the North and Midwest, the Smokehouse can also be grown in southern states.

The apples are medium to large and typically have a roundish cone shape. The skin is green to yellow and often has hints of red flush and striping. You’ll also see large, tan lenticels over the surface of the skin. Beneath this colorful outer shell lies yellowish-whitish flesh that’s juicy, tender, and waiting to be enjoyed!

Cluster of yellow and red apples on a tree.

Flavor Profile

Smokehouse apples have a unique flavor, often described as crisp, sweet, and malty. It usually has a slight caramel flavor as well. The Smokehouse is very firm yet tender and has the aroma of fresh apple cider when you first bite into it.

Smokehouse Apple Pairings

Because of their flavor and aroma profile, these apples are perfect for caramel apples, apple cider, or to eat plain. It also stores very well, which makes it a good candidate for canning or turning into applesauce. They’re also great when paired with blueberries, pears, and cheddar cheese.

Closeup of a fruit and cheese board.

Cooking With This Apple

Smokehouse apples are a favorite for baked goods, apple cider, and pretty much anything that contains apples. It’s commonly the focal point in pies, apple crisp, muffins, apple fritters, and apple turnovers. Here are some of the top recipes in which you can use these tasty apples.

Smokehouse apples are also great when paired with savory meats such as pork or chicken.

Applesauce pork chops and coleslaw on a white plate.
Applesauce pork chops and tangy coleslaw (click for the recipe).

Health Benefits of Apples

Apples are notoriously packed with outstanding health benefits. Smokehouse apples are rich in polyphenols, resveratrol, and other healthy compounds to get your cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and fiber intake under control. Here are some of the other health benefits of apples.

How to Grow Your Own Smokehouse Apples

If you’re looking to add the Smokehouse apple to your home orchard, there are some important things that you should be aware of. They’re are grown in much the same way that most other apple varieties are. However, let’s go over some of the specific details about growing this delightful variety.

Closeup of a single yellow and red streaked apple on a tree.

Size

When they’re full-grown, Smokehouse apple trees max out at 12 to 15 feet tall and 12 to 15 feet wide.

Spacing

It’s a good idea to space your Smokehouse trees between 12 and 15 feet apart to make sure that they have enough room to grow and stretch.

Pollination

Very few apple varieties are self-fertile, and the Smokehouse apple is not an exception. In order to grow and succeed, they should be cross-pollinated with one of the following apple varieties.

Hardiness Zone

Smokehouse apples are hardy and can survive in most parts of the country. However, it’s most adept to hardiness zones 3 through 8.

Yellow and red apples on a tree.

When To Plant

If you live in cooler climates with cold winters, you should plant your apple tree in the spring. If you live in warmer climates where the temperature doesn’t drop below freezing very often, you should plant it in the fall.

When to Harvest

Regardless of when you plant your Smokehouse apple, it will take several years to grow and produce fruit. The best time to harvest these tasty delights is in mid to late October.

Smokehouse Apple Tree Care

Taking care of your apple tree is paramount to its success. Minnetonka Orchards has a complete guide for apple tree care that you can visit and get all the information you need. Here are some specific care guide ideas for the Smokehouse.

Yellow and red apples on a tree.

Pests

Like all apple trees, there are a number of pests that you should be on the lookout for that will try to steal your fruit before you can enjoy it. Here is a guide to protecting your trees and fruits from nasty pests.

Diseases

The Smokehouse apple is especially prone to powdery mildew, scab, and fireblight but it’s resistant to cedar-apple rust. Here is a list of the other apple tree diseases you should be on the lookout for.

Pruning

Diligently pruning your apple tree is essential to its successful growth. This is especially important for Smokehouse apple trees, which are much more productive when pruned religiously.

Where To Buy The Smokehouse Apple

If you’re ready to take the plunge and plant your own Smokehouse apple tree, you can find them listed on a few online retailer websites.

Where To Buy the Apples

The apples themselves can be purchased at most farmers markets and roadside fruit stands in Lancaster, PA. It was also hailed by New York Magazine as a top apple choice at the Union Square Green Market.

Final Words on the Smokehouse Apple

Closeup of a single yellow and red apple growing on a tree.

If you’re not convinced yet about how good Smokehouse apples are, I’m not sure what else can be said. Smokehouse is a treasure of Pennsylvania that’s been grown and enjoyed for over two centuries. There are very few apples still in production that can boast a similar feat.

Is there a Smokehouse apple growing in your garden? Or do you know where to find the apples in season? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below! To read about other apple varieties, click here for our apple blog posts.