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Reprieve for Gould Hill Orchard

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The long-established heirloom apple orchard in Contoocook NH has a new lease on life. The owners, the Leadbetter family, decided to get out of the business a few years ago and much of the property was for sale. The year-to-year future of the orchard was uncertain but now it has been leased to a young family, the Bassetts, who are restructuring the retail area and adding refreshments like fresh-baked donuts. They have full-time jobs and 2 young children but are being mentored by the Leadbetters. With enough work and luck, the orchard will continue to flourish.

Although it's a one-hour drive, I go at least once every fall, for apples that are not grown anywhere else in the area.

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  1. Great reminder. This is a very special apple orchard and any kind of farming is tough business. They have an amazing variety of apples and a wonderful view, a treat for all visitors. DH's family grew the typical apples macs, cortlands, baldwins so we are both unfamiliar with the different varieties. It was fun to buy a couple of each to taste test although that's not fair to the cooking varieties. When we get fresh local apples I think about how lucky we are to have people still growing apples.

    Greygarious - do you have some favorite varieties to recommend?

    3 Replies
    1. re: dfrostnh

      Some years ago I bought 3 of everything, one for tasting, one for a tartlet, and one for a bake apple. Some highlights:
      LIBERTY - Macoun X (better keeper than Macoun), juicy, good in tart and eating
      YELLOW NEWTOWN PIPPIN - Granny Smith-like, very firm, keeps well, excellent in tart
      HONEYCRISP - Macoun X, superb crisp, juicy eating, holds shape when baked
      HAMPSHIRE - native to Gould Hill, stays white when cut, holds shape when bake. Crisp and juicy but mild in flavor; pretty good in tart
      BLUE PEARMAIN - very large, tough skin and fairly dry texture make for excellent baked apple
      WEALTHY - good in tart but too perfumy for eating out of hand
      ESOPHUS SPITZENBERG - crisp, semi-tart, good in tart
      NORTHERN SPY - large, crisp, good eating apple; great in tart
      BALDWIN - large, firm, good eating, excellent tart but poor keeper
      EMPIRE - great in tart and for eating
      MACOUN - great fflavor but mushy in tart, great eating, tart, crisp, poor keeper
      SHEEPNOSE - gorgeous shape but bland, dry, mild, poor eaten, baked, tart

      These varieties, individually bagged, kept for 5 months in a cooler on the porch over a mild Massachusetts winter. They were not fit for eating, but no rot and fine for sauce:
      Yellow Newtown Pippin, Pomme Gris, Granny Smoth, Wagener, Roxbury Russet, Golden Russet.

      Tiny eating apples: Pomme Gris has brown skin like a Bosc pear, and a pear-like flavor, dry and crunchy. Chestnut Crabapple is crunchy and richly flavored, like that rare bird, a GOOD Re Delicious. They are great.

      1. re: greygarious

        thanks greygarious, you took much better notes then we did! I saw a sign that Ginger Golds are in season now so I can hardly wait to get some. I also like the idea of having a cooler on the porch. Don't know why I hadn't thought of that.

        1. re: greygarious

          Great news. In years past, when I could get there, this was also one of the only places in the Northeast where this former midwesterner could find his favorite eating apple: JONATHAN: smaller, crisp, and tangy-sweet.

      2. just saw this post after googling gould hill to see if they were still in business this year...thanks for the update...so glad to hear that the farm is still there...