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Baldwin apples have a thick sin, bright red-orange with red stripes. They are generally medium-large and round in shape. Fruits that have grown in the sun tend to be redder with less striping. The flesh is creamy, juicy, and tender, yet firm. The flavor is rich but not overpowering: somewhat tart, but with an aromatic sweetness and notes of apricots and spice.
Baldwin apples are available in fall through winter.
Baldwin apples were once one of the most popular apples in New England. This variety of Malus domestica is an antique apple of unknown parentage that has stuck around since colonial times. The Baldwin tree is large and not particularly disease resistant, but the fruits it produces has made this one of the signature American apples. Commercially, Baldwin’s thick skin, excellent every-other-year cropping, and good keeping ability contributed to its importance as a commercial apple in the 19th century.
Small amounts of several beneficial nutrients are present in all apples, particularly Vitamin C, potassium, and boron. This fruit contains one-fifth of the daily recommended value of dietary fiber, which is crucial for cardiovascular and digestive health. Apples have no fat, sodium, or cholesterol, and are low in calories.
Baldwins are an excellent option for many uses. They make great dessert apples, and were once well-known as a cider apple. They keep their shape when cooked, so many bakers like Baldwins for pies, cobblers, and baked apple recipes. The flavor combines well with tarter apples in pies, crisps, and cobblers. This versatile apple can also be juiced and dried. The Baldwin keeps very well, up to four months.
Massachusetts has two monuments to the Baldwin apple. Wilmington’s monument purportedly marks the site of the first wild growing Baldwin tree, which fell down in 1815. The monument originally included an inscription crediting Samuel Thompson with discovering the apple, but was later corrected. A statue of Laommi Baldwin in nearby Woburn, MA credits him with making the apple popular in New England at the end of the 18th century.
The unique wild apple that would become the first Baldwin was found on a farm owned by John Ball in Wilmington, MA around 1740. The Butters family then bought the farm. They moved the tree seedling and started promoting it around 1750. Originally, Butters named it the Woodpecker Apple, because the tree attracted so many Woodpeckers. Later, the apple was known by several names—Pecker apple, Butters apple, and finally Baldwin apple. The name was chosen to honor a local Revolutionary War colonel, Loammi Baldwin. Baldwin had cut scions from the Butters’ tree and grafted them on to his own trees, spreading the word about the new apple. They grew in popularity throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, although lost their place in the commercial market to apples such as the McIntosh. Baldwin apple trees can tolerate cold New England winters, as well as more temperate climates.