The Best Upstate New York Apples For Baking

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Guys, it is apple season!

Ok, I might be rushing it a teensy weensy bit. But I have been getting some early variety apples from a friend, and I am pretty sure I read Starbucks will be selling  pumpkin spice lattes soon, so it’s not far!
Fall Baking with Apples
New York grows more apple varieties than any other state, in fact, the state produces enough apples each year to bake 500 million apple pies! But there are a few varieties of Upstate New York apples that are better suited to for pie and baking than others. And because no one wants a pie filled with applesauce I am going to share my top picks for baking with you.


 20 Ounce

New York State’s bigger and better answer to Granny Smith Apples, which can not be grown here because they require a longer season to ripen than New York state conditions will allow. This heirloom variety is famous not only for its massive size but excellent baking qualities as well.

  • Best for pies, applesauce, and baking
  • My favorite pie apple, but not so great for eating.
  • Available September to November


Thought to be a cross between Granny Smith and Lady Hamilton. Holds up very well in cold storage.

  • Sweet and tangy flavor
  • Excellent for snacking and cooking, while this isn’t my top choice in a pie apple, I have used it in pies with other varieties.
  • A later variety apple, available starting October


This all-purpose apple was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, the USA in 1898.

  • Juicy, sweet apple with just a hint of tartness
  • Excellent for eating, salads, sauces, pies and baking
  • Good for freezing


Introduced in 1948 and is a cross between the Golden Delicious and the Indo apple varieties, first grown in Japan.

  • A crunchy and sweet apple.
  • Excellent for eating, sauces, baking and freezing
  • October through September


It’s a cross between a Red Spy and Empire apple and was created at Cornell University.

  • Excellent for pies and sauces


Developed in Idaho, it’s a cross between two old-time New York apples, Jonathan, and Wagener, that were first grown in Penn Yan in 1791.

  • Excellent for sauces, cooking, baking and pies

Northern Spy

Discovered around 1800 in East Bloomfield, New York, south of Rochester, New York, as surviving sprouts of a seedling that had died and was cultivated with stock brought in from Connecticut. Northern Spy apples are tarter than most popular varieties, and its flesh is crunchier than most, with a thin skin, and is my runner up for pie baking. The only reason this is in the runner-up position is because it can be tricky to find. Northern Spy apples are a heirloom variety that fell out of favor somewhat due to the dull coloration, irregular shape, tendency to bruise easily, and lack of disease resistance.

  • Best for pies, apple sauce, and baking
  • Somewhat harder to find
  • Available staring around October


This old-time variety originated in Ohio in 1816 but is widely grown in New York State.

  • Excellent for sauces, baking, and pies

Tips for Baking with Apples

  • Variety. Using a blend of tart and sweet apples makes for the best tasting pies. A blend of apples will also create a delicious variety of textures within the pie.
  • Cutting When slicing apples for pie I like to keep my slices pretty uniform in size, but for quick breads and muffins I like to chop some pieces smaller, the smaller pieces breakdown and “melt” into the baked good distributing even more apple flavor throughout the finished treat.

Helpful Baking Tip

1 pound of apples = 2 large, 3 medium, or 4 to 5 small apples
1 pound of apples = 3 cups peeled and sliced apples

The Best Upstate New York Apples For Baking


What is your favorite apple to bake with?

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  1. Thursday..22 September NY
    Good Evening Jennifer,
    Do you know where in Western New York could find and pick Northern or Red Spy Apples ?
    Thank you for your help.
    Bonnie Wright
    Amherst,New York
    PS: this is a great site Jennifer!