Late-Season Apple Varieties: Get ‘Em While You Can

Apple season in Vermont is winding down, but there’s still time to enjoy your favorite varieties (or try something new) fresh off the tree. Because even though you can find a few of these popular varieties all year round, they’re more juicy and flavorful right now … within a few days or weeks of harvesting.

Here’s what’s fresh at the Market this week from local orchards:

Heirloom varieties 

This season we’ve been getting our heirloom varieties from two local orchards: Scott Farm Orchard in Dummerston, Vt. and Whitman Brook Orchard in Quechee, Vt. 

The orchard at Scott Farm was planted by the Holbrook family in 1911. Today the historic farm, managed by lifelong apple enthusiast Zeke Goodband, has 130 heirloom and unusual apple varieties. Zeke’s quest for old varieties has taken him to abandoned orchards throughout New England.

Whitman Brook Orchard, originally established in the 1920s, was restored in 1995 after being abandoned for nearly 30 years. Today, over 100 apple varieties grow in this picturesque hillside orchard.

Black Oxford

Sweet-tart flavor that improves over time

This ruby-colored apple originated in Oxford, Maine in the early 1800s. Thanks to its long shelf life, it has long been a favorite for eating, cooking, and making cider. (This variety keeps so well that it is sometimes referred to as “the rock.”) So don’t be afraid to stock up now for holiday pies and breads. You can still find some of these old trees in the pastures and barnyards of Maine (or at Scott Farm Orchard in Dummerston).

Blue Pearmain

Crisp, tender, and sweet flavor with a firm, dense, and dry flesh 

The purple-blue hue of its skin gives this heirloom apple its name. First recognized around Boston in the early 19th century, this crisp, tender apple has a mild tart flavor, making it a good choice for fresh eating and baking. (The skin holds up well for baked apples.) It is said to be one of Henry David Thoreau’s favorite apples.

Shizuka

Extremely sweet and juicy with a crisp flesh and wonderful flavor

This green-yellow apple—a cross between a Golden Delicious and an Indo—was discovered in Japan in 1949. It’s sweeter and less tart than a Mutsu, which shares the same parentage. They’re perfect for salads, because they’re slow to brown once cut and are firm and juicy. They also store well, so don’t be afraid to stock up!

Spigold

Juicy, firm, crispy, and very sweet with a slightly spicy flavor

This cross between a Northern Spy and a Golden Delicious was developed at the New York State Experiential Station in Geneva, New York, in 1962. Spigolds, like any apple , are best enjoyed fresh, but they’ll keep well for 6-12 weeks, making them a great choice for holiday baking. They’re excellent for pies!

More traditional varieties

Although you can find most of these varieties year round, they are best in the fall—fresh off the tree. Most of these more traditional varieties come from Champlain Orchards in Shoreham, Vt., one of the oldest, continually operated apple orchards in Vermont. This family-owned orchard grows over 140 varieties of apple using eco-friendly growing practices.

Macoun

Extra sweet and juicy with a snow-white flesh and wonderful aroma

In a lineup of apples, you’d recognice the Macoun (pronounced Ma-cow-an) because of its deep red, almost purple color. It’s delicious right off the tree, but they’re also good for baking, making applesauce, or pairing with cheese or tossed in a salad. It’s was developed in 1923 at a New York State Experiential Station in Geneva (a cross between a McIntosh and a Jersey Black) and is considered an American Heirloom variety,  

Macintosh 

Juicy with a white, tender, crisp flesh and very aromatic

These are our favorite lunchbox apples. Smaller than some other varieties, they’re perfect as a snack or healthy dessert. They’re juicy and sweet, but become soft if they sit out for too long. So we recommend putting them in the fridge or eating them right away. Unlike other more unique varieties, you’ll find Macs on the shelf in New England throughout the winter months due to their popularity. They were discovered in 1811 by John Macintosh on his Ontario farm. They’re now primarily grown in Canada and the Northeast U.S.

Cortland 

 Juicy, sweet-tart flavor with a tender, snow-white flesh

Like the Macoun, the Cortland was also developed at the New York State Experiential Station in Geneva, New York. But a little earlier—1898. They’re one of the most popular apple varieties in the country, and can be found year-round. It is another variety (like the Shizuka above) that is slow to brown when cut, making it a great choice for salads or sliced with cheese.

Honeycrisp 

Crisp, crunchy, and juicy, with a sweet flavor with a cream-colored flesh

Who doesn’t love a Honeycrisp? The Honeycrisp was developed in the 1990s at the University of Minnesota (after 30 years of development), and the university’s quest to create the “perfect apple” has paid off.  The Honeycrisp is now the fifth most-grown apple. We love them right out of hand, but you can also use them for baking and juicing (because they’re sooo juicy).

 

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