If I only had room for one apple tree in my garden I would choose the York Imperial. When I first heard the name York I assumed it was referring to York, England, which is not the case.
This heirloom variety is a true American apple. Recommended for zones 4 through 8, this was discovered in York, Pennsylvania in the 1820’s as a chance seedling. A mid-season variety, this bears heavy crops of fruits. It tends to bear every other year unless the fruits are thinned. The vigorous trees are upright to spreading.
This is prone to fire blight and cedar-apple rust. This remains an important processing commercial variety in the East. At one time it was widely exported to England until the English trade policies led to this being discontinued. This became a popular variety in the Mid-Atlantic.
It is also known as York. This variety was named by pomologist A.J. Downing. Prior to that it was known as Johnson’s Fine Winter because the fruits lasted all winter on the trees. Around 1850 Downing named it York for the place of its origins, describing it as the ‘Imperial of Keepers’ because they can be stored until May.
These don’t ripen evenly. Sometimes, they tend to drop early or rot when grown in warm climates. All of the fruits won’t be the same size. However, they’re all high quality.
These are great quality apples for eating fresh. They have a sweet to medium sub acid flavor. They’re aromatic.
The medium to large somewhat flat or rectangular fruits lean to one side. They aren’t uniform in shape. The lopsided trait makes it hard to pack them for commercial use. Their firm yellow flesh is juicy, and crisp. This is somewhat coarse and tender.
The tough, smooth skin is yellow or green with a pink blush or russeting. These ripen in late October about 165-170 days from the time of full bloom.
The fruits are used for cider as well as for baking. Because the slices hold their shape well when cooked, this makes an especially good pie. That is also one reason that the Yorks are used for cooking and processing. The fact that they have a small core also helps. This variety also dries very well. It is ideal for applesauce, which will be yellow.