Flavor: Rich, tangy, with tropical overtones; sharpens with age
Approximate Ripening: Late September – early October
Uses: Eating, cooking, juicing
Trivia: One of America’s finest heirlooms, this apple was discovered in Esopus, Ulster County, NY near the end of the 18th century. Reported to be Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple, Esopus Spitzenburg was widely planted during the 19th century but eventually fell out of favor when more attractive, marketable apples began flooding local markets.
Notes: Here’s an unusual recommendation: don’t eat your Spitzenburgs right away. Let them sit in your refrigerator for a couple weeks. Sure, it’s hard to wait to bite into this attractive and textured yellow apple—that orange blush at the top will be winking at you, daring you to strike too soon—but you will be rewarded for your patience. Esopus Spitzenburg’s flavor comes out with age like no other apple. After a month, you’ll get the full blast of zippy, aromatic tropical sweetness, and you’ll find it hard to argue against Thomas Jefferson’s love for this apple. Spitzenburg isn’t a keeper; three months in storage is probably the limit, so don’t let it sit too long.