Wouldn’t it be nice if apples were immortal so we had plenty of time to use them before they went bad? Well, the Baldwin apple isn’t exactly immortal, but it does have an incredibly long shelf life. It also holds it’s shape when baked rather than smooching into a glob, so if you like making baked apple treats, you should really consider the Baldwin apple.
There are certain varieties of apples that store well over the winter and this is one of them. Keep reading to learn more about the history of the Baldwin apple, what it tastes like, the best ways to use it in the kitchen, and whether or not you can grow it at home.
History of the Baldwin Apple
This apple tree variety originated in New England and can be traced as far back as a farmer by the name of Mr. Butters. He’d named the apples “Woodpecker Apples” because of the many woodpeckers who seemed to prefer those apple trees over the others. Its name was changed to the Baldwin apple presumably during the revolutionary war.
Legend has it that a man named Colonel Baldwin was resting with his troops near Mr. Butter’s property, and the Colonel asked if he and his men could eat some of the apples. Mr. Butters complied, and Colonel Baldwin liked the taste of the apples so much that he returned to the farm after the war to ask to take some cuttings from the trees. He wanted to have the chance to grow such delicious apples on his own property for him and his family to enjoy.
Characteristics of the Baldwin Apple
The creamy-colored flesh of the apple is covered in a bright red skin that fades to green in some places and bears a scattering of russet speckles. Its fruit is crisp and juicy with a sweet-tart flavor. This “winter apple” is especially favored for its long shelf life–3-4 months if stored in the fridge.
Eating the Baldwin Apple
These apples are sweet, but they have a tartness to them as well. For this reason, if you’re sensitive to tart sweetness, you may enjoy these apples more if baked in a pie or other pastry.
Apples pair well with caramel, cherries, cranberries, pumpkin, and pecans because of their complementary flavor profiles. That’s why you’ll often see groups of these ingredients together in recipes, especially in the fall.
These apples retain their shape well when baked, so they work similarly to Granny Smiths and can be used in recipes that require the apple to keep its shape. Since they are more on the tart side, they are best suited for recipes that include some added sugar.
As for snacking, try dipping these in caramel or smooth peanut butter for a little buttery sweetness to cut that tart sweetness. For kids, slice the Baldwin apple into several sections so they can dip it into the caramel or peanut butter. To give them an even more interacting and exciting snack, provide some crushed nuts, crushed M&Ms, or sprinkles for them to dip the apple in after dipping it in the caramel or peanut butter.
Health Benefits of the Baldwin Apple
Baldwin apples are a great source of fiber to promote health in your digestive tract. They’re also high in vitamin C, which supports your immune system, and they contain some potassium, which helps your body balance fluid levels. Apples, in general, contain around fifty-two calories on average, it’s safe to guess that the Baldwin apple probably contains a little less than that thanks to its lower sugar content.
For a more detailed breakdown of the Baldwin apple’s health benefits, read our apple health benefits guide.
Growing the Baldin Apple at Home
It is possible to grow Baldwin apples at home, but they’re not the easiest type for home growing when it comes to their pollination requirements. Fortunately, they make up for this flaw by flourishing in zones 3-9–which is great for those northerners who sometimes struggle to find plants that will tolerate their chilly winters.
Baldwin apples are a triploid variety of apple, which means that they require pollen from two other types of apple trees in order to produce apples. And it is quite rude and won’t pollinate any trees itself. So you’ll need at least three apple trees, all of different kinds, in order to grow Baldwin apples.
Size and Spacing
These apple trees reach a mature height of between twelve and sixteen feet. The spread of their branches tends to be around six to eight feet, so it’s best to plant them about sixteen feet apart to give plenty of room for growth without overcrowding the future mature branches.
Pests and Diseases
Aphids, red mites, apple maggots, and bark beetles are all pesky creatures who like to eat up our apple trees and enjoy our apples before we can. For tips on preventing and removing these pests, check out this Apple Tree Pest Removal article.
Several diseases can affect Baldwin apple trees, including fire blight, apple rust, black rot, and bitter rot. For more information about these diseases and how to prevent or eradicate them, check out our Apple Tree Diseases Guide.
Light pruning every year throughout the tree’s young life will help the tree maintain a good shape in the future and prevent a need for extensive corrective pruning later. Since extensive pruning leaves larger wounds in the tree for pests and diseases to enter through, avoiding it with regular light pruning is ideal.
For more details on apple tree pruning, take a look at our Home Grower’s Guide to Pruning Apple Trees.
When to Harvest the Baldwin Apple
The Baldwin apple tree tends to produce really well every other year. On the off-year, the yield tends to be significantly smaller. They are late-season apples ready for picking from October through November.
Where To Buy the Baldwin Apple
Unfortunately, Baldwin apple trees aren’t readily available on Amazon and neither are the seeds. Some online nurseries carry them, but they are often sold out of this variety. If you can’t find a plant or seed pack online, check with your local garden center or farmer’s market.
Where To Buy Baldwin Apples
Because Baldwins aren’t widely grown commercially, the apples aren’t likely to be in grocery store produce sections. Smaller apple orchards are where you’ll find these trees so the apples will be sold at farmers markets, roadside stands, or you can visit orchards that grow them
Wrapping Up the Baldwin Apple
If you’re looking for the perfect apple for an apple pie or baked whole apples, you’ve found a great choice in the Baldwin apple. And its long shelf life (up to 4 months in the fridge!) makes it a safer investment for the moody baker who may sometimes lose fruit to aging if the inspiration to cook with it doesn’t hit in time. With the Baldwin apple, you can take your time and get around to baking with it whenever it suits your fancy. The Baldwin apple will be waiting for you.
Do you grow Baldwin apples or use them in your kitchen? If so, we’d love to hear about your experiences (or recipes) in the comments section below! To read about other apple varieties (plus other helpful information), click here for our apple blog posts.