Season’s Best 5 Apples

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Baldwin Apple

RI Greening Apple

McIntosh Apple

Cortland Apple

Roxbury Russet

All photos/art by Erick Ingraham

We asked Yankee‘s former food editor, Amy Traverso (whose book on cooking with apples will be published in 2009 by W.W. Norton), for her five favorites among the more than 40 varieties commonly available in New England.


Although native to Ontario, the Mac is the most popular apple variety in New England. Tender, tart flesh makes it a good match for applesauce, cider, and eating out of your hand.


Sweeter and firmer than the Mac, its juicy flesh holds up to baking and is also slow to brown, making it a perfect choice for salads and other raw preparations.


Possibly the oldest American apple cultivar (mid-1600s), this Massachusetts native has firm flesh and a good balance of sugar and acid. Great for baking and a favorite among cider makers.


Another Massachusetts native (dating to the mid-1700s), the Baldwin is a terrific all-purpose apple, with crisp, juicy flesh and a slightly spicy flavor.


One of the best pie apples around, the Greening originated in Newport. Crisp and juicy, it’s a pleasure to eat out of your hand, and its tart flavor makes a great foil for buttery pastry.


Now try a pie or pandowdy with these 10 apple recipes.

  • We always used the 20 oz.apples for baking. I don’t know the formal name for them, but they made firm tart pies, and no one in the family ever bought anything else.
    I’d be glad to hear other opinions on which is the best overall.

    Mary Ellen Bello

  • I also remember my Mother using Northern Spies for pie, especially at Thanksgiving. They are a later apple that stores well. They are still grown, but in talking with a friend who owns an orchard, I learned that the trees require more work as they can grow quite large. But they are still grown around Keene NH and in fact I just picked some yesterday and plan to save some for my Thanksgiving pie.

  • Whenever I see an article on apples, I never see Northern Spies listed. My mother always favored them for pies. I grew up in Ithaca, N.Y. where apples from the Cornell University Apple Orchards were always plentiful. Are Northern Spies not grown any more, or are they not grown in New England, or was my mom unusual in her choice of a favorite apple for making pies?

    Thank you for your time considering this matter.

    Sincerely, Jackie Adrion


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