Why you should be excited
Ellis Bitter is an old English bittersharp cider apple that extends the cidermaking season by ripening earlier than most.
The story of Ellis Bitter
Once you get beyond two or three cider varieties in your orchard, you can specialize. That's the word I use, because it sounds better than 'obsess.' To me, both mean trying lots of varieties that are good at specific things.
Just like apples for fresh-eating or cooking, there's variety if you want it with cider apples and Ellis Bitter has a couple of attributes that set it apart in a desirable way. So it's really not just another cider variety.
First, it's a much earlier ripener than most of the great old cider varieties, many of which are among the last apples in the orchard to ripen. So, by growing this variety and other earlier ripeners like Bulmer's Norman, you can start making cider earlier in the year!
On top of that, this is a variety that's vigorous and has pretty good disease resistance, another characteristic that all too many cider varieties lack.
Ellis Bitter Facts
Discovered in East Devon, England, mid 19th-century.
Flavour, aroma, texture
This is a medium bittersweet cider apple, contributing soft, astringent tannin. Best blended with other varieties.
A green apple covered (sometimes completely) with red stripes.
When they’re available
Mid-season (usually in September).
Quality for fresh eating
We'd say either 'not applicable' or 'terrible.' Your choice.
Quality for cooking
For cider and nothing else.
Quality for cider
It's a good one.
Minimal (get 'em pressed and fermenting early on).