What is a McIntosh Apple?

Barbara Bean-Mellinger

The McIntosh apple is a type of apple grown in the northern U.S. and Canada. It was named after John McIntosh, who found the seedling on his farm in Ontario, Canada, in 1811. McIntosh apples are noted for their smooth, red skin that is often sparked with bright green patches. The inside flesh is juicy and firm, white in color and sometimes tinged with streaks of pink.

McIntoshes are a widely grown eating and cooking apple.
McIntoshes are a widely grown eating and cooking apple.

McIntosh apples are a popular eating apple due to their sweet, not too tart flavor. They break down easily in cooking to make applesauce that is slightly pink in color, and are a popular choice for making cider and pies as well. McIntosh apples are considered to be easier to eat than harder varieties, such as the Red Delicious or Granny Smith.

McIntosh apples can be made into applesauce.
McIntosh apples can be made into applesauce.

McIntosh apples provide 5g of dietary fiber, 22g of carbohydrates, Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin A, calcium, iron, and have zero cholesterol. To choose a good McIntosh apple, place it in the palm of the hand without squeezing the fruit. It should feel solid and substantial, not soft and light. If the thumb is rubbed lightly over the apple, the skin should not wrinkle or pucker but remain smooth and tight.

In 1888, the Agricultural Experiment Station in Burlington, Vermont, in the U.S., began to plant McIntosh apple trees. Through years of study and experimentation with the trees, the McIntosh was perfected and is now known as a hardy and dependable variety of apple tree. When John McIntosh’s first tree fell in 1910, enough McIntosh trees had been cultivated for the species to be well established.

The McIntosh apple grows best in a temperate climate. This means that the temperatures are normally above freezing during spring blossom time, warmer during the summer growing season, and getting cooler — while still not low enough to cause frost — during their ripening and picking season. McIntosh apples ripen mid-season, in mid-to-late September.

Although McIntosh apples are plentiful in stores and orchards, they are a good variety for backyard growing as well. McIntosh apple trees are best grown from seedlings rather than seeds, and should be cross-pollinated by planting another variety of apple tree nearby. For each tree, dig a hole 2 feet (60.96 cm) deep and twice as wide as the tree. Spread out the roots and loosen the dirt on the sides of the hole to allow the roots to grow easily. Place the tree in the hole, cover the roots with dirt, tamp down the dirt to eliminate air holes, and water thoroughly; add more dirt up to the top of the hole, water it again, and mulch with shredded bark.

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