The Plumb Cider was a popular and widely grown apple variety in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa, in the northern central United States. Valued for its hardiness and productivity, it has been grown in different parts of the country; yet, it remained primarily a Midwestern variety. This apple variety was so popular that it became a standard variety judged at State Fairs in these states through the late 1800s and the early 1900s. It is a round-ovate apple, slightly conic in some specimens, above medium in size. While the skin is yellowish shaded with pale red and somewhat striped with brighter red, the flesh is whitish or slightly greenish. Historically used both for fresh eating, dessert and cider making, the Plumb Cider apple is tender and juicy, with a brisk sub-acid flavor.
In 1844, the Plumb family moved from Ohio to Wisconsin and brought with them a seedling of unknown parentage planting it near Lake Mills, Wisconsin, where it came to be known as “Plumb Cider.” It was brought to notice of the Wisconsin Horticultural Society about 1869, when its name was formally adopted. Although it was included in “1905 Apples of New York,” Plumb Cider’s popularity waned over time and it disappeared from nursery catalogs by the 1920s. Plumb Cider was thought to be a lost variety until it was re-discovered by Dan Bussey, an apple historian, on the grounds of the former Sherman Orchard in Newville, Wisconsin in 1989. Since that time, it has been in the hands of a few collectors and included in the Seed Savers Exchange apple collection. As of 2014, only two bearing aged trees are known to commercially exist, making this varietal extremely rare. A historically prominent variety, the Plumb Cider Apple should be brought back into circulation and cultivation.