Early Joe

Why you should be excited

Early Joe is an early ripener that's going to surprise you with its rich flavour, rare among early apples.

The story of Early Joe

You may have heard that a random-planted apple seed faces odds of about 10,000 to one against the resulting tree being a desirable new apple variety. The other 9,999 are likely to be scrawny, bitter, mouth-puckeringly sour little things good for cider but definitely not for fresh eating.

Given those odds, you may be shocked to learn that a single batch of apple seeds planted by Heman Chapin of Ontario County, New York sometime around 1800 produced no fewer than three outstanding new apple varieties: Northern Spy, Melon and Early Joe.

The first of these remains to this day a favourite of pie-makers in eastern North America. Melon is less well-known today, but was a hot commodity in 19th century New York. And then there's Early Joe, a shockingly rich-flavoured early apple that deserves -- but has never achieved -- similar fame.

Early Joe Facts

Its origins

Raised from a seed in Ontario County, New York, USA around 1800.

Flavour, aroma, texture

The yellowish-white flesh is tender, juicy, richly-flavoured and mildly subacid.


This smallish apple has smooth, pale greenish-yellow skin with splashes and stripes of dark red.

When they’re available

Early season (usually in late August).

Quality for fresh eating

Very good.

Quality for cooking

Mainly used for fresh eating.

Quality for cider

Like all heritage varieties from the U.S., Early Joe has probably been used in cider extensively, but we haven't found any information about how it's performed.

Keeping ability

Limited (a few weeks when kept refrigerated).