Book review: Apples of North America.


Apples of North America – Tom Burford (2013, Timber Press, Portland)

Here is THE book for anyone who loves apples – whether that means eating and cooking with them or growing them. Orchardist Tom Burford has assembled a thoroughly-researched guide to 192 apple varieties found in North America, offering tips on how to successfully grow apples in both orchard and home garden settings, from seed to harvest and storage.  There are even detailed instructions for cooking apple butter, drying apples, and pressing and making apple cider (my favourite!).  The individual apple portraits are the best part of this book:  each page is complete with photographs (so you can see the variations of colour and striping), and a short blurb about the apple’s history, outstanding tree characteristics, interior and exterior descriptions, notes about disease resistance, and ratings for use (dessert, baking, frying, drying, cider, applesauce, vinegar, landscape design, etc.) and storage.  Not only informational, this book is a delight to pore through – I wasn’t familiar with most of the varieties in the book as few of them make it to our grocery or markets, so it was a treat to see how they all varied in size and colouration.  The breeding history of each one is fascinating as well – Burford goes beyond the science to tell the stories behind each apple.

Mmmm…now all I can think of is apple crisp warm from the oven (can you tell I haven’t eaten breakfast yet?).

What are your favourite apple varieties – and your favourite ways to eat them?


  1. Another reason for me to win the lottery and retire early – a heritage apple orchard. And pears and plums and anything else I can grow on a tree

  2. Definitely going to look into that! I love apples, they are beautiful, fragrant and ever so tasty in any kind of dish. The best of course, the Honey Crisp…preferably when walking the dog. Granny Smith so delcious with cheese or peanut butter, Gala is good in pies, crumble, baked oatmeal, cakes and muffins and apple sauce and with pork or even better with sausages ad oninion and than add red wine and handfull of cranberries and and and…oh I am getting peckish here!

  3. This sounds an absolutely wonderful book, I wish there was something similar over here in the UK. We do have a book called The Apple, but it only covers different varieties albeit with fantastic illustrations rather than inspiring readers with culinary ideas too.

  4. I agree with Julie – I would love a book like this featuring British or European apples, though I think I’d happily read the North American one for the pleasure of it. My youngest daughter loves apple anything and everything. We make baked apples stuffed with raisins, syrup and breadcrumbs, apple pie, apple crumble, apple tart, puréed apple and apple cake.

  5. I remember when I was a kid in the winter my mom put apples in the warming compartment of the huge wood fired stone fireplace till they ere almost cooked. I cannot think of a better tasting apple.

            • Hmmm…I think it would have to be availability, for sure. We can purchase several varieties of apples year-round here but of course, each variety arrives at a different time. We actually get many types from New Zealand – it would be interesting to cross-reference those with the listings in this book, as some of the same varieties would be grown in North America as well. And then there are all the heirlooms that never make it to our grocery stores…I would have to go on a hunt (road trip!) to find those.

              I always wonder how long our fruit has been in storage and transport before we buy it. I took a food processing course last year and my instructor said that most of the apples we North Americans purchase in the grocery store have already been in storage for nearly 6 months before we bring them home. Makes me want to plant an orchard, that’s for sure!

              • Yes, I think storage times are quite long! Mind you home growers used to try and store apples for as long as possible. My great grandmother apparently used a variety storage methods for different farm produce.

  6. I live in an apple growing part of Australia and am looking to plant some heritage varieties of apples next year, this book will come in handy to figure out what to plant. So glad you found my blog, so now I can follow yours. Thank you Karen

    • I’m excited to hear about your plans for planting heritage apples – you’ll have to keep everyone updated on what varieties you decide to go with! I’m happy to have found your blog and look forward to all your new posts!

  7. My favorite way to eat apples is apple pie, though I won’t say no to apple strudel or baked apples – or raw. I’ve always wanted to go to Kazakhstan to see where wild apples first grew.

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