Farm-fresh apples are a harvest time treat around which entire regions of the country hold festivals and parades. From farmers markets to large-chain grocers, apples of hundreds of varieties make their way into homes around the world. And though harvest has usually come and gone by December, there are quite a few late-harvest apple varieties that will provide sauces and pies throughout the winter.
Available from the end of October until late April, the Stayman apple is a winter harvest favorite for applesauces and ciders because of its sharp, tart flavor. The skin is a dull red color that is occasionally striped and has a crispness to it. The Stayman also maintains its shape under heat, making it a particularly good baking apple.
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A medium or large variety, the Melrose is a favorite dessert winter apple because of its mild acidity and powerful aroma. The skin of the Melrose is pale yellow with red hues, as it is a cross between a Jonathan and a Delicious. The Melrose is Ohio's official apple.
Rome Beauty Apples
The Rome Beauty is not considered the best straight apple (delicious right off the tree), but is commended for its stability and sweetness when baked. A brightly colored red apple, Rome Beauty's are typically used for whole apple baking or pies. Since the apples have a low chilling cut-off, they can be grown in warmer climates.
The popular Fuji apple is a transplant from Japan introduced to the United States in the 1980s. The yellowish-green skin of the apple is blushed with slight pinks and reds to form a speckled, pleasing tone. Though too firm for pies or baking, the Fuji is best enjoyed straight because of its natural sweetness and crisp skin.
Baldwins are an American original from Massachusetts that are good storage apple (keep for long periods of time). Their bright-red and yellow-streaked fruit is juicy and favored for recipes like pies and applesauce. Because of their longevity, Baldwins are often used in early spring months to make batches of cider.
The Cortland is a winter apple that is a staple of New York agriculture. From the McIntosh family of apples, the Cortland is a delicate fruit that does not keep for long periods of time and exhibits a diminishing flavor and firmness over time. However, during the harvest season, the Cortland is a good salad apple that resists browning after the flesh is exposed to oxygen.
The Winesap is a long-period storage apple that is small and firm. It is prized for its unique wine flavor (hence "winesap") and imparts that flavor into ciders and sauces. This small apple is bright red to purple in color and has a very fine flesh grain (the texture of the apple). The Winesap is common in apple-growing regions in Virginia and is sometimes called the "Virginia Winesap."