There are a few apple varieties that do well where there is almost no chill. Chill factor is the number of hours where the temperature is less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The Dorsett apple requires almost no chill, but others may require up to 600 hours in the dormant season, or that the soil freeze to one inch deep. Dorsett apples are happy in coastal May gray and June gloom. Mild winters start them blooming in late January, and the fruit is ready in May and June. Then they bloom again and the fruit is ready in November. And then they bloom again, but I pick off the blooms so that they will bloom in January.
The apple qualities of Dorsett are a bit different from other types of apples. The apples often will fall from the tree and need to sit on the counter for about three days before sweet enough to eat out of hand. They have a sweet tart taste and good crunch. If you bake or cook them, they completely collapse and have no texture- great for apple butter, apple sauce, baby food- but not pie. Except for certain types of pie- layered pie.
Pie crust to make a top and bottom for a 9 inch deep-dish
4 Dorsett apples, about the size of your palm and slightly green, cored and chopped (not sliced). I like the skins, but you can remove them if you want to.
1/3 Cup sugar (or substitute like Xylitol or Splenda Baking mix)
3 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon clove
Mix the chopped apples with the sugar, flour, juice and spices. Layer it in the bottom of a dough lined pie pan (9 inch deep dish) and dot with two tablespoons of butter.
Next layer is some other fruit- like berries. Mixed berries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries- frozen or fresh. You will need about 1 ½ cups of berries tossed with 3 tablespoons sugar or sweetener equivalent.
Now put on the top crust and bake it at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350 for 50 minutes to one hour .
When the pie cooks, the apples collapse into a solid layer and the berries sit on top. You get the great taste of berry pie and the fullness of apple pie. All you need is a scoop of vanilla ice cream to totally blow your diet.
I also use the Dorsett apples in apple muffins, apple bread, and apple salads. I have cooked them with cabbage and onions to dress up a pork roast and I have put them in apple sausage stuffing at Thanksgiving.
Having two crops a year is very interesting. The first crop is gigantic with large apples, lots of them. I have to pick off about 1/3 of the set apples so that the remaining ones get large. The second crop is about 1/3 as many and they are much smaller. I try to pick off about half of the set apples so that the remaining ones can get a bit bigger. Keep the tree well watered and fertilized all year long. It takes lots of energy to make that many apples.This tree is self fertile and compact, but not for a pot. After six years in the ground it is about 6 feet across and six feet tall, but the trunk is very thick. It is suitable for a small yard even though I have a large yard and numerous other fruit trees.
I highly recommend this tree for serious apple lovers on the West Coast.