Welcome to

Kordick Family Farm

Home of Baba Yaga’s Apples of Eternal Youth


first generation apple farmers

Kordick Family Farm is a mother-daughter operation that was founded in 2009, when we planted our first 850 apple trees in Stokes County, NC.  We primarily grow heirloom, regional, and cider apple varieties, with several grafted from local sources.  Sorry, you won’t find any HoneyCrisp apples on this farm.  We are continually experimenting in our efforts to be as holistic as possible in practice.  

At a time when most commercial orchards are moving towards high-density dwarf variety plantings of trees, our MM111 semi-dwarf trees…

…are huge by current standards, the kind of tall, sprawling trees that used to be the norm in American orchards. Growing to about 20 feet high and spaced about 16 feet apart, they require ladders to pick the fruit, but aesthetically, we just like big apple trees that you can climb in, as well as the idea that they will be here long after we’re gone. And practically-speaking, our large trees are much more hardy and self-reliant than dwarf varieties, which is always a plus in a two-person operation.

In recent years, we have expanded our apple orchard to include about 1,800 trees total, representing about 175 different apple varieties.  We still graft every single apple tree we plant.  We also have a small pear orchard and handfuls of other fruits, including peaches, plums, figs, che fruit, and blackberries, planted on the farm.  In coming years, we will be expanding our pear planting, and are always interested in adding more tree fruits (some familiar, and some quite exotic) into the mix.


Baba Yaga

Russian Heritage

The first members of our family to emigrate from Russia to the United States came in the early 1900’s by way of Ellis Island. They settled in a Northeastern mill town and eventually started a small dairy and subsistence farm. Some of the fruit trees they planted still stand on the old homestead, and while…


…the first Kordicks in this country became proud Americans, they also left behind an appreciation for certain Old World customs and folklore that our family continues to enjoy today.

Every culture seems to have a bogeyman of sorts that is held over the heads of misbehaving children, and in Russia and several other Eastern European countries, children were raised to beware lest Baba Yaga, a rugged forest witch, seize them and gobble them up. Baba Yaga features in many famous Russian stories, often as a fearsome antagonist, yet she is also frequently portrayed as simply a wise old woman (or women, as she also may be depicted as three sisters) of the woods who serves as a guide to the heroes and heroines of folklore.

Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga's Apples of Eternal Youth story

Like many apple growers of the last century, we have deliberately branded our apples with an eye-catching logo and artwork. 20th Century fruit crate labels are now collectibles, sought after for the evocative art that was meant to catch consumers’ eyes on city streets and entice them to gravitate towards one grower’s fruits over another’s.
There is a Baba Yaga fairy tale about a quest for golden apples that bring eternal youth to those who possess them, and it was this story that inspired us to stylize our…

…apples as “Baba Yaga’s Apples of Eternal Youth,” and to come up with our own version of the story, as well as revive the old fruit crate label tradition.

We worked with Greensboro-based artist Liz McKinnon (www.heartshinestudios.com) to design a watercolor illustration of Baba Yaga with the famed apples, not in Old World Russia, but in our neck of the North Carolina foothills. As the crow flies, Kordick Family Farm is about 15 minutes north of Pilot Mountain, and we have a postcard view of the knob from the center of our property. To our west lie the Blue Ridge Mountains, while the Sauratown range borders us to the east. The Dan River is mere minutes away to the south of the farm.



Our Apple Cider Syrup

It takes a long time for large apple trees to start bearing fruit, period.  And if you’re trying to grow apples in the Southeast, it takes an even longer time to hit upon the right mix of practices to produce fruit of consistently high quality.  This means we’ve had a lot of time to think about what we want to do with our apples, and smaller quantities of fruit to play around with.  In this manner, we created our flagship product: Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup.

Much like hard cider, apple cider syrup was …

…an American staple in past centuries, a stable, homegrown sweetener that had endless uses.  However, with the advent of granulated sugar (and probably also due to the widespread razing of American apple orchards during Prohibition), cider syrup all but disappeared from the pantry.

When we became interested in re-introducing cider syrup, we sought out the local Southern experts: sorghum syrup producers.  A very generous, close-knit community, our new friends taught us the sorghum syrup-making process and helped us adapt it to cider syrup. 

Starting with 100% farm-pressed apple juice (cider), we boil enormous pans over a wood fire for hours until it is reduced to about 1/10 of the original volume.  At this point, the sugars have concentrated to form a thickened syrup that is wonderfully fragrant and tangy in apple flavor, and is ready for . . . almost anything.

Really.  It is actually easier and infinitely quicker to list the things that cider syrup wouldn’t be good on (Fish?  Well, some fish.  It’s actually wonderful on salmon!).  The most obvious, and hard-to-beat, application is to pour cider syrup over pancakes, biscuits, and other breakfast pastries.  Perhaps the most unexpected use, however, is to make a braise or sauce for savory items like pork roast or sweet potato gratin/casserole.  It even pairs well with salads in the form of a vinaigrette.  Try drizzling it over ice cream or yogurt, spoon it on top of oatmeal, add it to popcorn . . .  Beverage-wise, you can make an instant cup of hot cider by adding about 4 Tbsp (or to taste) cider syrup to a cup of hot water.  Add a shot of brandy or rum to your cup, or add cider syrup to any number of cocktails and mixed drinks.  Finally, cider syrup can be used in baking, much like maple syrup.  

Apple cider syrup is a staple that never should have left the American kitchen.


our growing practices

Like many unconventional farmers, we have struggled to find a term that describes our growing practices, while also communicating in a single word our management philosophy to consumers.  ‘Natural’ and ‘sustainable’ mean nothing without context.  ‘Low-spray’ can be used by growers who spray conventional chemicals, but at their lowest possible application rates.  Most of the materials we apply happen to be approved by OMRI (the Organic Materials Review Institute), however, use of the term ‘organic’ implies certification, which we are not.  We are beyond organic at this point in our growing careers, and have finally settled on the term, ‘holistic,’ in the sense championed by Michael Phillips and the Holistic Orchard Network, of which we are proud members (http://www.groworganicapples.com)

Over the years we have found the most widely available commercial formulations of organic chemicals tend to have one thing in common: it’s not so much that they work well against pests and disease and truly promote good crop health; more so, it’s that they do no harm.  Low efficacy coupled with premium price tags just doesn’t cut it on our farm, and after losing apple crop after apple crop in spite of our diligent lockstep organic program, we decided we needed to find a better way to grow.  We think we’ve found it.  To large extent, we have stopped thinking like conventional and conventional organic growers, who are mostly concerned with preempting pest and disease pressure with preventative chemical sprays, as well as responding with curative formulations once pest and disease pressure is in evidence.  

Instead, we focus on cultivating trees, and indeed, an orchard environment, of such optimal overall health that it is not as sensitive to a disease or pest outbreak, not unlike a person who eats healthy, doesn’t try to sterilize everything in sight, but maintains good hygiene, and thus is much less likely to be laid up by the latest bug going around.  To that end, we nurture the root zone environment with inputs like hay and wood chips to promote a healthy fungal ecosystem that gives tree roots access to all manner of good nutrition.  We also regularly apply beneficial microbes, along with fatty oils for them to feed on, to promote canopy colonization by species that work symbiotically with the tree, again to the end of excellent nutritive uptake, while also taking up space that might otherwise be “infected” by “bad” bacterial species that cause disease.  And as we transition to this new way of growing, we do spray the occasional broad spectrum knockdown like copper or PerCarb, though not anywhere near as often as we did in the past, and for different purpose.  Using the aforementioned chemicals as an example, when we come in and sanitize the fungal and bacterial populations with a tree spray, we don’t leave it that way and then try to maintain a sterile environment with regular subsequent sprays.  What we want is to start with a clean slate for an application of beneficial microbes and to nurture this population for as long as possible.  It’s all about using your tools wisely, and as it gets harder and harder to grow fruit period, we need an effective grower’s toolbox.

This is not our great-grandparents’ farmstead orchard.  In the early and mid 20th Century, they simply did not have the disease and pest pressures that have spread with globalization.  Also, people back then did not put quite so high a premium on fresh fruit appearance.  Nowadays there are so many potential and wide-ranging issues to worry about it makes our heads spin.  Unsurprisingly, the West Coast of the United States is a much more ideal environment for growing apples in general, and organic apples in particular.  Plum curculio, one of the hardest pests for organic East Coast growers to control, doesn’t occur in the western half of North America, and until recently, fireblight, a devastating bacterial disease on the East Coast, wasn’t an issue either.  Throwing in the endemic fungal disease smorgasbord of the humid South makes it especially tricky, to say the least, for apple growers in the Southeast who are trying to maintain a remotely organic orchard.

A lot goes into orchard management.  As mentioned above, we mulch with hay whenever possible for weed suppression and cultivation of a healthy root zone.  We utilize untreated trap crops and sacrifice the fruit to certain pests in the hope that it prevents them from entering the orchard proper and causing damage.  We collect fallen apples and diseased prunings for burning so they don’t serve as vectors for future pest and disease development.  In short, we do everything we can to reduce the need to spray — indeed, it’s a rare grower who is enthusiastic about spraying anything.  Whether you’re spraying conventional or unconventional nutrients, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, or even beneficial bacteria, it’s a time-consuming, fuel-eating, equipment-wearing hassle, and often a very expensive and potentially dangerous one.  If a farmer is spraying anything, it’s because he or she truly thinks their crop and livelihood depends on it.  Talk to us — most farmers would love a chance to have an honest discussion about growing practices rather than be bound by the are-you-organic-or-not litmus test.  

Organic chemicals and materials can be abused as much as conventional ones, can be just as bad for pollinators, and can also accumulate to the detriment of the environment.  In addition, decreased efficacy often means increased application.  You can go out of your way to avoid synthetic chemicals derived from fossil fuels, but if you have to spend more time on your tractor burning fuel and compacting the soil in order to apply them, is that sustainable?  Rather than lecture you on our definition of sustainability, we will keep an updated list on this website of what we spray and why, as well as this discussion of practices, as it evolves, and you can decide for yourself if this meets your definition of sustainability.

We maintain mason bee houses in the orchard, as well as honeybees and pastured rabbits. If we wear any safety clothing/masks while spraying, it’s generally to keep from getting soaked and filthy. We don’t spray anything that we consider unsafe to our bees, livestock, or ourselves.

Oxidate 5.0: an OMRI-listed hydrogen peroxide that kills bacteria and fungi.  We use this in the early spring pre-bloom as a broad knock-down to help create a blank slate for our subsequent beneficial bacteria applications.

Nordox WP: an OMRI-listed slow-release copper formulation that kills bacteria and fungi, and also helps prevent frost molecules from forming.  Sometimes applied in the spring pre-bloom to give us some protection when the trees are most vulnerable to infections and frost damage.

AgriPhage: OMRI-listed, contains bacteriophages that specifically target the bacterium responsible for fireblight.  After several years of steadily increasing fireblight pressure in the orchard, we have finally found a biological product that can make even the worst shoot blight take a seat on the bus like everybody else.

Core Holistic Spray: a rotating cocktail applied ten or more times a growing season for nutrition and disease/pest prevention, including some or all of the following — Ahimsa pure neem oil (OMRI-listed)*, Ahimsa karanja oil (OMRI-listed), EM-1 beneficial microbes (OMRI-listed, and brewed on-farm from a mother culture), SeaCrop sea minerals (OMRI-listed), AEA Micropak trace minerals (OMRI-listed), Charley’s Soap (a locally-made, environmentally-friendly soap that we use to help emulsify the brew components)

Xentari Bt: an OMRI-listed, specifically honeybee-friendly, Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, that attacks certain insect larvae

Isomate mating disruptors: OMRI-listed dispensers that are hung from tree canopies to release mating pheromones of Oriental fruit moth and codling moth to make it harder for adults to find each other and reproduce within the orchard.

Quantum Light: a supplement to our EM-1 beneficial microbes, which are primarily composed of lactic acid bacteria.  Quantum Light contains “the purple guys,” varieties of photosynthetic bacteria, which colonize apple leaves when applied, and help make nutrients available for the trees specifically via photosynthesis.

Lime Sulfur: OMRI-listed, but our least favorite thing in the world to spray!  It is very caustic and can cause severe corrosion on equipment and our persons (burns), but it is very useful when severe broad-spectrum disease clean-up is needed in the orchard.  Can also be used as to thin blossoms during bloomtime, but of course, it also kills beneficial fungi and bacteria.  For that reason, it is often used pre-beneficial biological applications to create a blank slate to start from.

Blossom Protect/Buffer Protect: OMRI-listed strains of Aureobasidium pullulans that provide protection against early season fireblight by colonizing blossoms in a prophylactic manner and creating an inhospitable environment for fireblight-causing bacteria by acidifying the blossom interior.

Lalstop G46: OMRI-listed Gliocladium catenulatum, a naturally occurring, saprophytic fungus that thrives in cool climates (or very early spring in the South) and provides an early season protective barrier against pathogens (we’re specifically targeting fungal rots like Colletotrichum), and parasitizes them, to boot.

Howler: an OMRI-listed Pseudomonas chlororaphis formulation that provides preventative control against fruit rot pathogens via several modes of action.

Grandevo: OMRI-listed formulation of Chromobacterium subtsugae strain and spent fermentation media that afflicts our archnemesis, plum curculio, as a stomach poison. 

*In 2022, we will switch from using Ahimsa pure neem oil in our core holistic spray to TerraMerra’s TerraNeem, an OMRI-listed 85% neem formulation with significantly higher azadirachtin, the chemical compound found in neem oil that is responsible for its insecticidal properties.  After a particularly bad aphid year in 2020, we feel the need to beef up our core holistic spray a notch, while still providing most of the fatty acids that support our EM-1 beneficial bacteria

Got questions or concerns?  Check out our contact info further down on this page and drop us a line.

Ah, April, when the early apple trees enter petal fall stage, fruitlets begin to develop . . . and plum curculio (Conotrachelus nenuphar) rears its ugly, little head.  Plum curculio may be tiny, usually only a quarter of an inch or less in length, but it causes bigtime damage in Eastern fruit orchards every year. There are many growers who are organic in every way, save the exceptions they make to combat plum curculio. A hard-bodied, extremely tenacious weevil, its modus operandi is to overwinter in the woods surrounding orchards, then move into the orchard proper at petal fall with the goal of laying as many eggs as possible in developing fruits.

The larvae develop inside the fruitlets, causing damage one of two ways: 1) the larvae fully develop, secreting certain chemicals that make the fruitlet drop to the ground, where the grown larvae can penetrate the soil to complete the life cycle, or 2) the larvae may be crushed to death as the young fruitlet grows rapidly, leaving the initial damage from the egg deposit as a gateway for other pests and diseases. Either way, they are a major, major headache that growers have been battling for a century or more. There are neat photographs of early twentieth century growers out with large teams, literally beating the trees to shake the curculio adults onto sheets spread below the trees, to be removed from the orchard for certain destruction.

The key to controlling plum curculio is stopping the population cycle — you want to reduce the number of egg-laying adults that you will have to combat the next year, so most of the time, you’re actually targeting the larvae themselves in a number of ways.

We have planted trap crops of early-fruiting plum and peach trees so we can sacrifice the fruit to the plum curculio and target the larvae before they move into the later-fruiting apples. Sound theory, but it doesn’t always work so well since, in this area, cold springs often preclude peach, and especially plum, fruitset. So most of the plum curculio probably make it past the trap crop in any given year to the orchard proper.
The next line of defense is to apply coats of refined kaolin clay to your trees. The clay particles slough off onto curculios making their way into the trees, getting into all their orifices and irritating them. The idea is to convince them that our apple trees are just not worth the pain and suffering. But in order to be effective, kaolin clay has to be applied in a heavy and consistent enough layer, easier said than done around bloomtime, when growers are busiest and the weather is rainiest (the clay will wash off in rain, so many layers are required).

So historically, many adults do succeed in their raison d’etre, to deposit their eggs under the skin of our new apples. But we still need to target the larvae in order to prevent a larger repeat of this whole cycle the next year. One thing we are experimenting with this year is to apply parasitic nematodes to the soil beneath trees, where they will happily gobble up plum curculio larvae after they penetrate the soil.

We only have a few apple varieties at the petal fall stage right now, but in the last two days, have casually stumbled upon two plum curculio adults in the central orchard. Scary stuff, indicative of a very large population that is up on its game. This year we will also be applying Venerate, an OMRI-approved formulation of heat-killed bacteria, which secrete natural, exoskeleton-targeting toxins that interrupt the plum curculios’ molting process, leading to death. We’ll have to wait out the rain for the next three days, and keep our fingers crossed that we’re not too late.

Northern Spy Apple


Apple Growers and Mowers

Summer Work:  Ah, the growing season — sure, apples are growing in size, but it’s also the time of the year when the grass and understory shoots up, and when insects and diseases are going through their primary life cycles, as well. 

Summer keeps us on our toes, as we monitor not only our crop, but all the various things that may affect its quality and quantity, and have to be ready to take action as needed across many different fronts.

GOT APPLE TREES?  KFF has dozens of varieties of heirloom apple trees for sale in various sizes, all grafted onto MM111 rootstock (a large semi-dwarf size that will top out at 18-25 feet tall on average). NOTE: OUR TREE NURSERY IS CLOSED FOR THE SEASON AND WE WILL PICK BACK UP AGAIN IN SEPTEMBER!  Please call us at (336) 351-5186 or email us at cheers@kordickfamilyfarm.com to set up a time to check out our nursery.


Can’t make it to our orchard packhouse?  Want to purchase some of our products with a credit card?  We are pleased to announce that our Etsy store is open for business!  Click this link to visit KordickFamilyFarm on Etsy!  Note, we are not currently selling or shipping trees via Etsy, but you can find many of our other orchard products there.


Thanks in large part to an NC AgVentures grant, we installed a RainWise weather station at the orchard in winter 2021.  Having such site-specific weather data at our fingertips will help us make better management decisions.  And since our information is public, local gardeners and growers can also benefit. 

Check out our current weather conditions via our RainWiseNet webpage!

Check out our local pest and disease forecasts via our NEWA (Network for Environmental and Weather Applications) webpage!  (Select “Westfield” from the drop-down weather station list.)

This pile of stuff was once an enormous 100 year-old cider press, and soon it will be again . . . when we find the time and space to get it up and running again.  Stay tuned.  For now, it’s a sight to see, with all its fascinating nuts and bolts (and massive pulleys) on display in the orchard packhouse.

apple beer
Apple Beer
Hyslop Crabapple
Featured Variety: Hyslop Crab

What comes to mind when you hear the word, ‘crabapple’? Chances are, you don’t think of something sweet and delicious. Perhaps your mind goes to unexpected places — on more than one occasion, we have had a customer pick up a jar of our crabapple jelly, read the label, then make a face and put it back, asking why we feel the need to mix seafood with our apples!

Instinctual aversion to the crabapple appears to date back to ancient times. The derivation of the evocative name is lost to history, but whether the root can be ascribed to a Scandinavian language or Old English, all the possible connotations are unpleasant. It has been pointed out that, in addition to the generally disagreeable taste a 14th century person might have expected to encounter upon eating a wild crabapple, the sometimes contorted, or crooked, growth of a crabapple tree might be said to resemble crab legs.

In modern times, crabapples don’t tend to get a lot of love from consumers, but to growers, apple breeders, jelly-makers, and hard cideries, crabapples are something special. As orchardists, we appreciate how reliable and easy to grow crabapples are; in this lean fruit year, most of our varieties that managed to set a good crop were crabs. It’s not surprising that crabapples feature highly in breeding programs for both apple rootstocks and improved varieties.

As we gear up to make this season’s crabapple jelly, we were moved to put together a visual ode to the wide variety of crabs we grow. ‘Hewes Crab,’ ‘Dolgo,’ ‘Crittenden,’ ‘Hyslop,’ ‘Chestnut,’ ‘Wickson,’ ‘Roseblush Sweet Crab,’ oh, my! As you can see from the above picture, crabapples come in many different shapes, colors, and sizes. Likewise, the crabapple class encompasses a wide variety of flavors. Sure, there are plenty of crabs that could be described as tart, tannic “spitters,” but there are also varieties with pleasantly sweet flesh that kids, in particular, seem to find irresistible for fresh eating. And the thing about those mouthpuckering crabs is, their less than appealing fresh taste belies their ability to deliciously translate into vibrant jellies naturally high in pectin, addictive spiced pickles, savory roasted holiday side dishes, as well as outstanding libations.

Long prized as showy ornamental yard trees or canning fodder for homeowners, in recent history, if a commercial orchard included the odd crabapple in their plantings, it was purely for a pollination boost. In general, crabapples produce copious amounts of pollen and also tend to bloom for an extended period of time. Thus, they are considered valuable pollinizers and are often sparsely interplanted within other conventional orchard blocks in the hope of boosting fruitset. As hard cider and heirloom apple production picks up, crabapples are being recognized for their other merits, and since crabs are the only apples actually native to North America, it’s about time we took some pride in our crabby heritage!

There are four distinct species of crabapples native to North America: Malus coronaria (a sweet crabapple found in the Great Lakes region), Malus fusca (a sour crabapple found in the Pacific West), Malus angustifolia (a sour crabapple found in the South), and Malus ioensis (a showy bloomer found in the Central Plains). That’s a lot of variety, just in terms of species, and when you get into named cultivars, which have often been hybridized with non-crabapples into Malus domestica, there is even more diversity. While you would be forgiven for assuming that any crabapple will be on the small side and exceedingly sour in flavor, there are degrees and outliers. For example, the ‘Chestnut’ crabapple produces petite fruits compared to a typical dessert apple, but at an average of 2.5 inches in diameter, its size doesn’t exactly scream crabapple.

At Kordick Family Farm, we grow 14 different varieties of crabapples, including such oddities as a Malus hupehensis, hailing from China and commonly known as the ‘tea’ crab because its leaves were traditionally used in teas. Another standout variety is ‘Dolgo,’ the fruit of which is easily mistaken for plums, with their ruby-red skin and scarlet flesh. Our Crittendens produce the smallest crabapples we grow. The lovely trees bear clusters of fruit that resemble cherries in every way. The diminutive fruits are usually less than an inch in diameter.

As we were harvesting some Crittenden crabs this past week, we glanced into the next block of trees and spied a particularly imposing ‘Wolf River’ apple. Measuring over 6 inches in diameter and weighing in at a pound and a half, this was the largest Wolf River we have ever picked in our orchard, but the variety routinely produces our largest apples on average. When juxtaposed with a wee Crittenden, the difference is quite striking!

Hard to believe it’s fall festival time already, but here it comes! Those of you in the North Carolina Triad area can look forward to the Bethabara Apple Festival in Winston-Salem on September 23rd, from 10 am to 4 pm. Hosted by the historic Bethabara Park, this is always a fun event in the authentic setting of a colonial Moravian village. We won’t be able to supply fresh apples this year, but we will have other orchard wares available for purchase, and will also be providing the apple cider scents wafting through the air — come see us boil down a pan of apple cider syrup on-site.

We recently harvested our Hyslop crab trees, and forgetting that, despite their luscious appearance, they are not a crabapple one enjoys out of hand, eagerly crunched into some real beauties before promptly spitting out the remarkably unappealing flesh. Hyslop apples actually do have excellent flavor, but it must be coaxed from the fruit with some simple alchemy in the form of heat and sugar, or on the other hand, transformative fermentation. With a little effort, we will thoroughly enjoy some Hyslop crab jelly or blending the fruit’s juice in a hard cider.

The proper uses for a Hyslop crabapple have been known since the 1800s. The horticulturalist brothers Downing listed it in The Fruits and Fruit Trees of North America from 1869 and state that, “This variety has been long and pretty extensively cultivated,” and that it is “good for culinary uses and for cider.” Despite the Downings’ mention of Hyslop’s long tradition of cultivation, the historical trail starts, or rather stops, with their brief description. Yet the plethora of nursery listings and horticultural society mentions of Hyslop in subsequent years confirms that this crabapple must have been widely grown by 1869, particularly in the Midwest, where it gained notoriety for being “very capricious” and “frequently blighting to death.”

Much relevant, and amusing, information can be gleaned from horticultural society publications of yore. Previous generations really took their plants seriously! As you might imagine, in the pre-1900 Midwestern states, life was not particularly easy and folks lived and died by the crop varieties they threw in with. Opinions of cultivars were vociferously expressed and histories of favorites were passionately debated (you may recall the colorful background of the ‘Blacktwig’ apple, which we described in a previous newsletter). An excerpt from the proceedings of the Winter Meeting of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society over three days in January, 1877 exemplifies the strongheld attitudes of our forebears regarding their crops. In this case, the debate relates to the Hyslop crabapple, as the society revised its annual listings of apple and crabapple varieties:

“A motion was made to discourage the cultivation of the Hyslop Crab.
Judge Baker coming in just then made a heavy speech against the motion. They looked, he said, to the Hyslop and Transcendent to get all their fruit.
Mr. Dartt would like to see the tree stricken from the list. The tree was hardy, but subject to blight.
Mr, Smith’s experience did not coincide with those of others. The Hyslop in the St. Paul market would bring one-third more than any other crab. It was famous for jelly. If fruit growers would take hold of it, thousands of dollars might be saved by going into the manufacture of jelly. It keeps longer than any other crab in the market, with the exception of the Soulard. Blights a little, but should be retained on the list.
Mr. Gideon gave his experience. He could get 25 per cent. more for the Hyslop than for the Transcendent, but could make more at selling the latter at $1.25 than the former at $1.50. He was not in favor of discarding it, by any means.
Mr. Brimhall was in favor of retaining it. It sells readily in market, the color is good, and he thought it a valuable apple for this locality. He could never get enough to supply his customers.
Mr. Jewell said the objection to the Hyslop was in his mind so strong as to constitute a sufficient reason for its rejection. It has a thick skin, is liable to blight, and generally inferior to the others.
A motion to strike it from the list was lost.
Mr. Jordan thought the Hyslop, in comparison with the others, was pretty much as the fellow’s mixture of sawdust and meal, for wintering calves—the less sawdust there was, the better. The less Hyslop there was, the better.
The variety was finally recommended for cultivation in small quantities, by a vote of 10 for and 3 against.”

It’s worth noting that in 1877 people would have been grafting apples onto standard rootstocks that take quite a long time to bear, particularly in a colder region like Minnesota. And since the opinionated horticultural society members seem to have had extensive experience with growing Hyslop crabs by this 1877 meeting, it would seem that the long and extensive history of cultivation the Downings mentioned in 1869 might stretch back a good deal farther, indeed. We just think it’s neat that anyone would get so worked up over a crabapple! It is certainly interesting to note just how agriculturally important crabapples were in past centuries. A University of Minnesota publication from 1903 declares with regard to Hyslop that “no fruit is more sought after or commands a better price in the market.”

At any rate, in The Apples of New York, published in 1905, S.A. Beach describes Hyslop as “one of the best known and most widely cultivated of the crabapples.” By this time, Hyslop had made its way into Canada, as well, for in The Canadian Apple Grower’s Guide of 1910, author Linus Woolverton lists Hyslop as “a well-known and widely cultivated variety of hybrid crab.” Of course, he perfunctorily lists the apple’s “commercial value” as “second class, but very good for culinary uses and for cider,” also noting that “its dark rich red color and its late season combine to make it a valuable variety.”

At some point in its history, Hyslop’s spelling started to show some slight variation. W.H. Ragan, in Nomenclature of the Apple, published in 1905, gives the name of the variety as ‘Hislop,’ but notes that it is “perhaps instead intended for Hyslop.” This alternative spelling is perhaps significant, for Dan Busey concluded in his recent Illustrated History of Apples in the United States and Canada that Hislop was the earliest, proper spelling of the crabapple’s name, and that it was a Wisconsin apple named for Milwaukee nurseryman Thomas Hislop.

An alternate history affirms Hyslop as the conclusive spelling over Hislop, and links the name to the prominent Massachusetts family of Hyslop. William Hyslop Sumner, one 19th Century descendent, was actually responsible for developing East Boston. As always with heirloom apples, the history as well as the mystery, may drive our interest, but at the end of the day, Hyslop is just a really nice little apple, and this has to count for a lot in the test of time.

We are longtime crabapple aficionados and so, outside of our orchards proper, our farm features a lengthy crabapple row that curves with the road leading through our property. A number of different varieties are alternated down the row, including about 6 Hyslop crabs. We included Hyslop at the recommendation of apple authority Tom Burford, who considered it one of the best varieties for vinegar production.

In his book, Apples of North America, Tom highlighted Hyslop and described how, “even in her nineties, [his] mother would always remind [him] to set aside a few bushels of Hyslop for apple pickle making. After pricking the apples with a darning needle to prevent bursting, they were lightly cooked in a wide granite pan, packed in quart jars, covered with low-sugar syrup, and processed. The syrup would turn brilliant red from the peel of these brightly colored crabapples.” The red skin does indeed come through in cooking applications, and Hyslop crabs can also be added to applesauce to enhance both color and flavor.

This time of the year, Hyslop’s vibrant color catches the eye and holds it as you pass by the trees. We check them frequently for ripeness, as it is truly a pleasure to examine the lovely fruit as the color brightens, then deepens with its distinctive blue bloom.

Long, hot summer work days make a body thirsty. Perhaps that’s why we recently came up with the idea to try making beer with our apple cider syrup. Serendipitously, right around the same time, a brewery contacted us about getting some of our fruit to make an apple beer. Our interest was peaked and we hard cider hobbyists pivoted to begin exploring all the ways one might make an apple beer.

Unsurprisingly, many so-called apple beers are simply beers to which artificial apple flavor has been added. But there are plenty of options for making a genuine apple beer. You can add fresh cider or fresh apples at different times in the fermentation process, or even use the pomace that is leftover after pressing cider from apples. And we are loving the exceptional flavor that our apple cider syrup brings to a beer.

What we are making is perhaps best termed a ‘graf.’ In what has to be one of the more bizarre creation stories of all time, home brewers adopted this term and concept from The Dark Tower book series by Stephen King, wherein the author mentions a cider-beer hybrid he dubs graf. The home brewing community decided that this fictional beverage should be a delicious reality and have really developed the concept. Today you can find plenty of graf-making guidance and recipes, but the concept is still a very loose one, encompassing all sorts of hybrid creations that mingle elements of both beer and hard cider. For our part, we’ve enjoyed everything we’ve brewed so far.

For our maiden graf fermentation we set up a batch of “molasses” beer from a recipe where we swapped out molasses for cider syrup. After the primary fermentation, we divided our batch into two buckets, bottled one, but then added leftover pomace from pressed ‘Redfield’ and ‘Burford’s Redflesh’ apples to the other half of the batch to see how that worked out. The hope was that the pomace enhanced the apple flavor, whilst adding tannins, acidity, and perhaps even a hint of rosy color from the redfleshed apples. It has been a pleasure to sample the results, and having fallen headlong down this rabbit hole, we are gearing up for more experimental batches.

One really nice thing about playing with beers is that the batch turnaround is so fast. You can begin enjoying your product in as little as 2 weeks from the time you started the process! Likewise, beer can be more accessible for a newbie than wine or cider. These days, it’s easy to find a good homebrew store within driving distance for ingredients and the minimal equipment involved (the only equipment most people might need to purchase is a couple of food-grade buckets and some hose for siphoning). You can gather everything you need and be brewing the same day.

Calling all homebrewers: looking for something new and different? Might we suggest an apple beer! We’ve posted our working recipe on our website (scroll down the page to the Cider Syrup Recipes heading). Now that we’ve got a good basis to start from, we’ll be tweaking it as we play around with different yeasts, hops, etc.

We are just delighted that we can add beer to the long list of delicious things one can make with Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup — cheers!

apple cider salad dressing

Cider Syrup


Apple cider syrup is the perfect base for a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce.  This full-flavored recipe packs just a hint of heat and makes 2 cups of sauce.

1 cup Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 Tablespoons grated onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons prepared (not dry) mustard
salt to taste
dash of cayenne pepper

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.  Then you know what to do: baste all over your favorite protein and grill, bake, or broil it up.

(adapted from an Our State Magazine recipe and shared by our friend, Randy)

4 Tablespoons (or to taste) Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup 
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1 large, decent apple, peeled, cored, and cut into cubes
(the original recipe calls for Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apples)

Preheat oven to 400°.  In a large mixing bowl, toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, tossing once during cooking time.

Remove sprouts from oven, then toss them in the cider syrup and add apples. Spread the sprouts and apples back on baking sheet and return to oven for 10 minutes or until tender. Check seasoning; add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Reminiscent of lemon meringue pie!

1 cup Baba Yaga’s Cider Syrup
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
1 standard pie crust

Mix all ingredients together with handbeater or blender  until smooth.  Pour into crust and bake at 350 degrees about 45 minutes, until set and slightly browned on top.

Makes about 75 pieces of decadent apple candy!

2 cups cream (heavy, whipping, or even coconut)
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Baba Yaga’s Cider Syrup
6 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
spices (1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg)

Lightly grease an 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides.

In a heavy-bottomed pot, combine cream, corn syrup, sugar, cider syrup, and butter.  On high heat, bring to a boil, stirring only until sugar dissolves.

Reduce to medium-high heat and cook without stirring until the temperature reaches 248 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 30 minutes.  Remove the pan from heat and stir in salt and spices.

Pour into the lined pan and let sit at room temperature for about 18 hours without disturbing.

Remove from pan and cut into desired bite-sizes (about 3/4 inch square).   Cut 6 inch squares of parchment paper and wrap each caramel, twisting the ends of the paper to close.

4 medium sweet potatoes
2 medium apples
4 Tbsp. butter or non-dairy substitute
1/3 cup Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup
1/2 tsp. salt

Place sheet of aluminum foil on bottom oven rack. Position second oven rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash sweet potatoes and make a small slit on one side of each potato. Place potatoes directly on middle oven rack, slit side up. Bake 45-60 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

While potatoes are baking, core, peel and slice apples 1/4 inch thick. Saute apple slices in 2 Tbsp. butter or substitute until tender. Set aside.

Peel cooked sweet potatoes and place in bowl. Mash together with remaining 2 Tbsp. butter or substitute, apple cider syrup, and salt. Stir in cooked apples.

Place sweet potato-apple mixture in ovenproof baking dish and cover with lid or foil.  Bake 25-30 minutes.

8 cups of plain popped corn, unsalted

1 cup white sugar

1/3 cup Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup

2 tsp. vegetable oil

1/4 tsp. salt

Prepare a large, rimmed baking sheet by lightly oiling or lining with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Place popped corn in large glass or ceramic bowl (not plastic).  Bowl should be large enough so popcorn can be stirred easily without spilling over.  Set aside.

Combine sugar, cider syrup, oil, and salt in small saucepan.  Mix well.

Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until a candy thermometer registers 290 degrees F, about 6-8 minutes.

Remove from heat and pour over the popcorn.  Quickly stir popcorn with spatula to coat evenly.

Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread coated popcorn to cool.

When cold, break into small pieces and store in airtight container.

1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. minced shallot
1/4 cup Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup
2 Tbsp. finely chopped peeled apple
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
Serve over salad greens with sliced red onion and thin wedges of apples, or your favorite salad.

Forget about molasses — apple cider syrup adds outstanding flavor to our favorite picnic food. This recipe will make about 6-8 servings as a side dish.

1 lb. dried beans (California pea, Navy, Great Northern)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium onion, cut in half from top to bottom
1 large, firm apple, peeled, cored, and diced into small pieces

Soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover them by 2 inches. The next day, drain them and place in a pot with the baking soda plus enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, skimming any foam off as needed. Remove 1 cup of cooking water and set aside. Drain and rinse the beans, then place in a bean pot or slow cooker with onion halves.

Combine the syrup, sugar, mustard, ginger, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in the reserved cooking water. Pour over the beans and onions. Bake, covered, at 300 degrees in the bean pot, for 6-7 hours, or until done, stirring occasionally. A slow cooker will take about 6 hours, still covered and stirring occasionally. Add the diced apple during the last hour of cooking. If saucier beans are desired, add small amounts of water as needed.

*This apple beer, or graf, recipe is a work in progress from beermaking novices!  Feel free to experiment and make it your own!  This recipe will make about 5 gallons of apple beer.  Depending on the size of your buckets, you may want to divide your batch into two buckets since you’ll need to leave enough headspace to accommodate any bubbling up during fermentation.  You will need jars or other containers to bottle your beer.  We use about 20 quart jars.

4.5 gallons water (divided into 2 and 2.5 gallon amounts)

3.5 cups CBW (concentrated brewers wort — we used Pilsen Light pure malt extract)

1.5 cups (one 12 ounce bottle) cider syrup

1 teaspoon brewer’s yeast (an ale yeast like Nottingham works nicely)

1 ounce torrified wheat (for head retention)

0.5 ounces hops (choose something with lower alpha acid range, and with a flavor that will accentuate, not overpower or distract from, apple flavor) 

7.5 cups corn sugar (plus enough to add 1 teaspoon to every quart jar)

Wash and sanitize your equipment, including your quart jars.  Bring 2 gallons of water to a boil.  Add the malt extract, cider syrup, torrified wheat, and hops, then simmer, uncovered, for 20 min.  (This is called your wort mixture.)

Add the corn sugar and stir to dissolve.  Remove from heat.  Pour 2.5 gallons of cold water into your bucket(s).  Pour your wort into the bucket(s) with the water, splashing it a bit to help add oxygen.

Measure the temperature of your wort.  You may need to let it sit or put the pot into a sink of cold water to bring the temperature below 100 degrees (you don’t want to kill your yeast when you add it).  Check your yeast packet for ideal temperature.

Once ideal temperature has been achieved, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of yeast onto your wort and stir well.  Cover loosely with a lid.  You’ll want to keep it covered for 6-10 days, depending on room temperature.  Ideally, the room would be 61 to 68 degrees.  If it’s warmer, fermentation will be very fast, resulting in shorter time to bottling.

If you have a hydrometer, you can use this to test your beer.  It is ready to bottle when it is 1.008 specific gravity.  If you don’t have a hydrometer, after about a week, if you no longer see bubbling, you can assume it’s about time to bottle.

Measure 1 teaspoon of corn sugar into each quart jar.  Siphon your beer into the jars, leaving about an inch and a half of air space.  Invert each jar a few times to dissolve the sugar.  Set the bottles in a warm place for a few days, then transfer to a cool, dark place for long-term storage.  Drink up!


Our orchard is located at 1259 Joyce Acres Road in Westfield, NC 27053.

Directions from Pilot Mountain:

Traveling on US-52 North, take the exit 134 for Pilot Mountain, NC-268.  Enter roundabout and exit to the first right onto S. Key St./NC-268.  Take a left at the CVS stoplight to continue on NC-268.  Turn right on Old Westfield Road.  After about 6.5 miles Old Westfield Road dead-ends into NC-89.  Take a right onto NC-89 at the stoplight.  Go 3 miles, then take a left onto Frans Road.  After a mile, take a left at the stop sign to continue on Frans Road.  Take the first right onto Christian Road.  Take the first right onto Joyce Acres Road and travel 1 mile to reach 1259.

Directions from Francisco:

Traveling west on NC-89, take a right onto Asbury Road.  At the stop sign, take a left to continue on Asbury Road.  After about a half a mile, take a left onto Joyce Acres Road, and travel about a half a mile to reach 1259.