Tuesday, November 16, 2010

King Luscious for Apple Pie

Photo from http://adamapples.blogspot.com/search/label/King%20Lush

Some years ago, a friend and her 2 children were staying with me for a couple of months at my home in Asheville, NC while she tried to make some decisions. I came home one day in late October to find an apple pie for a dessert that night. Now don't get me wrong... I like pies just fine, but apple pies do not excite me. It's the same with pumpkin pies. They all seem to taste pretty much alike. Now, give me a made-from scratch real Key Lime pie, or homemade custard pie, peach pie or lemon meringue pie not made with a pudding mix... and we're talking PIES!

However, the pie my friend made really changed my thinking about apple pie. I don't remember ever having an apple pie tasting that delicious! When I asked her about it, the pie recipe was just a standard recipe as far as the spices. What was different was the variety of apples she bought at the big Farmer's Market, on the recommendation of the vendor. 

The apple was King Luscious, discovered near Hendersonville, NC in the 1930's, and known around the area for delicious pies. It is thought the King Luscious might be a cross between a Stayman and the Wolf River apple; they are large apples, with a unique juicy flavor, fine-grained yellowish-white flesh, and a red and green skin.

Later that week I went back to the market for more of those apples, but they were sold out. By coincidence, I caught a Martha Stewart show soon afterwards, and the show was about apple pies. Martha was making a pie with King Luscious apples, saying they were the best apples she had ever used for pies!

The next year I moved to another state, my sole source for King Luscious apples now in the past.

Finally, about four years ago I found an historic orchard just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near the TN/NC border that still has a few King Luscious apples in the old orchard the new owners are reclaiming for the many Heritage apples grown there. I bought a few King Luscious that year (they didn't have many), but haven't been able to make the long trip back since then.

Early this November I was on a trip through the Virginia foothill mountains, and stopped at a few apple shacks looking for crab apples to make crab apple butter. (Yum!) No luck finding any, but quite by accident I did find a few King Luscious aka King Lush at one place! I bought a peck and a half, about 15 pounds, and they are now stored in my root cellar until I have time to make an apple pie! This apple stores well for several months, so I have ample time to make more than one apple pie. None before Thanksgiving, though... too much to do.


  1. My favorite apple for pie is Early Transparents (aka "June apples"). It's a totally different flavor from what you've got with your King Luscious, but equally sublime, especially if you go light on the spices and use a whole wheat crust.

  2. I've used Transparents for applesauce, but never think of apple pies in the hot summertime...

    I think more along the lines of getting out the hand-cranked ice cream churn, LOL.


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