Apples of Yore Make a Comeback
|Twenty-five years ago, John Kilcherman decided he needed a hobby. Never
mind that he and his wife, Phyllis, were running an 85-acre commercial cherry
and apple orchard in the Leelanau Peninsula of northwest Michigan.
the apples of his childhood, he planted 10 antique varieties that were at least
50 years old and no longer sold commercially.
Today this hobby has
grown to include 200 varieties of antique apples and a thriving mail-order
business. "On the advice of our customers, we decided to do gift boxes 10
years ago," Mrs. Kilcherman said. "Every apple is different, and we
include the history of each. It's an eating history lesson."
boxes are hand packed by Mrs. Kilcherman and her daughter-in-law and include
varieties like the English Golden Russet, a sweet-tasting apple from the 1800's
with a skin that feels like sandpaper; the Winter Banana, which appeared in
Indiana around 1876 and has a slight banana flavor, and the Green Newton Pippin,
a tart apple from 1722, which is considered America's oldest.
apples come in boxes of 12 and 16, with the larger shipments containing
varieties like the Spitzenburg, Thomas Jefferson's favorite, and the Lady Apple,
which French women of the 17th century used as breath fresheners. No two apples
are ever the same, and some varieties come with their own natural, and
characteristic, wax covering.
Advertising has been by word of mouth,
attracting customers in all 50 states and from as far away as Norway, India, and
Kilcherman's Christmas Cove Farm is at 11573 Kilcherman Road,
Northport, Mich. 49670; (231) 386-5637.