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McIntosh Apples

McIntosh apples are one of the most popular apple varieties in North America. They aren’t the newest apple as they were discovered in the 1800s, but their sweet and tart flavor is hard to beat. This fruit is one of the most classic varieties with its red and green speckled skin, soft flesh, and old-fashioned apple cider flavor. Learn all about where McIntosh Apples came from, what they taste like, what to use a McIntosh apple for, where it is grown, and fun facts about the fruit.

Where McIntosh Apples Came From

McIntosh apples grow very well in cold climates such as New York, so some believe that the apple variety originated in New York State. However, it was actually cultivated on a farm in Canada. John McIntosh discovered the first McIntosh apples in the early 1800s.

John McIntosh was a Canadian farmer who bred the apple on his farm. Before he discovered these apples, eating apples weren’t known to grow in his cold Canadian climate. He found the seeds by chance and began growing and grafting the new apples with his family. They became a popular variety and still embody the classic, juicy apple flavor for many.

The original McIntosh apple tree is long gone, but a clone of the original still lives at a museum in Canada. McIntosh apples are in use for years since to develop other apple varieties. All of the descendants of McIntosh apples maintain some of the trademark characteristics: a sweet and tart flavor, white flesh, and hardiness in cold climates.

McIntosh apples are usually grown on farms or orchards in Canada, New York State, and other parts of the Northeast United States. McIntosh apples are nicknamed “mac” apples. If you hear the similarity to Apple’s Macintosh computers, it isn’t just you. An Apple employee deliberately named the line of computers Macintosh Apple computers after the McIntosh apple variety to avoid confusion with other companies.

What McIntosh Apples Taste Like

Kids picking apples

A McIntosh Apple is a classic fruit choice. Its unmistakable, slightly spicy and fruity aroma makes it a favorite. This apple variety has a primarily sweet and tart flavor with some tanginess. It tastes like tart apple cider and is incredibly juicy. The old-fashioned apply flavor of a McIntosh apple mellows with time to a more sweet and pear-like flavor. This apple is known for its tender white flesh, which bakes down well.

McIntosh Apples are one of the softer apple varieties. This variety of fruit is most crisp and full of flavor when it is new and fresh off the tree. Once it has been off the tree for a few weeks, it quickly loses its aromatic tart flavor. The classic sweet taste stays intact the longest if the apple is refrigerated.

A refrigerated McIntosh apple stays crisp enough to enjoy as a snack for a long time. If it is stored at room temperature for several days, the fruit becomes soft and mealy-textured. If your McIntosh apples have gone past peak crispness, don’t worry. These apples will still make delicious applesauce or pie.

What to Use McIntosh Apples For

McIntosh apples are good apples for baking, juicing, and eating. Because they are so juicy, McIntosh apples are an excellent choice to use for apple juice and sweet cider. The apple is tart enough to hold its own in a sweet dessert. The soft flesh of the apple makes it a perfect choice for applesauce or apple pie.

Keep in mind that McIntosh apples bruise easily and are best stored in the refrigerator due to their soft texture. This fruit also breaks down very quickly when baked, so thickeners are often recommended if it is being used in a pie.

Several apple varieties can be substituted for McIntosh apples in baking. Cortland apples are a sweet and tart variety with a similar texture and are usually the closest substitute. Many all-purpose apples provide similar results. However, no varieties taste quite the same as a fresh McIntosh apple.

Try using this variety for your next baking project with these delicious McIntosh recipes. With their sweet flavor and tender white flesh, they’re practically a dessert in themselves.

Where to Get McIntosh Apples

Organic Red Mcintosh Apples

McIntosh apples are available in late fall and early winter. These varieties of apples thrive on a farm in a cool climate. Some types of McIntosh apples can be harvested as early as July or as late as November.

You can get McIntosh apples at an orchard near you if you live in a cool area such as Canada or the northern United States. They’re everywhere around the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

Stock up if you see them on sale at a farmer’s market – while they don’t last long on the counter, these apples may last three to six months when stored in cool conditions. Otherwise, you can order them online. Use care because due to their soft, juicy flesh, they may become bruised or misshapen during shipping.

If you’re picking your own apples or just want to be able to pick them out a glance, be able to identify a McIntosh apple. They are usually on the smaller side and have red and green skin speckled with white. These apples are often a bit lopsided, but that isn’t a bad thing. They still taste just as delicious.

How to Grow McIntosh Apples

McIntosh apples can seem like a somewhat finicky apple to grow, but the product is worth the work. Grow this type of apple is you live in a cold Northern climate such as Canada or New York. Plant a McIntosh tree in well-draining soil somewhere where it can get sun most of the day.

Prune the trees when they are young and about two times a year. The fruits are prone to apple scab, which can be warded off with fungicides and early prevention. The trees are suitable for grafting and cross-pollinating other varieties. A McIntosh tree is not self-pollinating. Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, and some varieties of crabapples are all excellent choices to cross-pollinate this type of tree.

It can be challenging to grow an apple tree directly from seed. Buying a young McIntosh seedling from your local orchard, plant nursery, or online and then planting will provide the best chance for success. The tree will take six to ten years to reach its full size of about fifteen feet and produce fruit.

Fun Facts About McIntosh Apples

Canadian McIntosh Red Apple Stamp

The McIntosh apple is undeniably an essential part of Canadian culture. It is the national apple of Canada and featured on a 1996 Canadian silver dollar. The sweet-tart apple has one of the most recognizable aromas and flavors of all apple varieties. McIntosh apples are some of the oldest cold-tolerant eating apples.

McIntosh apples are a classic apple that is a good choice for baking, eating, and growing in the North. Once you taste a delicious McIntosh, you’ll keep coming back to the old-fashioned favorite. Look for the McIntosh apple at your local farmer’s market or grocery store this year.

Excited for more apple content? Visit my apple trees page to learn more about apple planting, growing, picking, cooking, and more!

Erik Kruse

Sunday 24th of January 2021

Do you have any recommendations for where one might purchase McIntosh or Honeycrisp apple trees which can be transplanted into a backyard in the Minneapolis area?


Tuesday 26th of January 2021

Dundee Nursery and Highland Nursery are in the Minneapolis area and have Honeycrisp trees available for order (as well as a few other cold-hardy varieties such as Haralson), and you can always order bare-root dwarf trees (great for a backyard) online from nurseries like Stark Brothers. Be sure to call ahead as some orchards can reserve a tree for pickup closer to planting time. Hope that helps!

Lillian White

Wednesday 4th of November 2020

Can i ordet MacIntosh apples from you?


Friday 22nd of January 2021

Sorry, we don't sell apples. Your local orchard, farmer's market, or grocery store might sell them!