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McIntosh Apples


McIntosh Apples

McIntosh Apples
© Denzil Green


McIntosh apples are still the most well-known, ubiquitous apple in North America.

Despite being "mc's", their nickname is "mac."

A "mac" starts its commercial life after picking as a crisp, slightly tart piece of fruit. It tends to get quite sweet, though, the older it is, and lose any balancing "tang" it had.

McIntosh trees are very hardy; oftentimes, they are the only ones in an orchard left standing after a bad storm. McIntosh trees appear to be a cross between Fameuse and Detroit Red apple trees.

Some people say they are heartily sick of McIntosh Apples. It's not that there's anything wrong with the apple, per se. It's just that for decades it was just about the only apple you could buy. In North America there is still always such a glut of them, with every apple farm pumping them out by the trainload, that they end up in storage forever, where they start to dry out and get mealy, until they are bundled into 5 and 10 pound plastic bags and sold as a "generic, all-purpose" apple, for everything from lunch bags to pies.

Choose ones with a shiny skin and the stem still in it; a missing stem can indicate an overripe McIntosh; a dull skin is an indication that the apples been around for a while.

Cooking Tips

A McIntosh Apples is not really an all-purpose apple; it's terrible for cooking in any dishes (such as pies) where you want the apple to keep its shape. It's far better as a fresh-eating apple.

Nutrition

Per average apple (140g) 82 calories



History Notes

John McIntosh was a Scotsman who had moved to New York State, and who then moved up to Ontario in 1796.


Government Erected Mcintosh Apple Plaque

Government Erected Plaque
© Denzil Green

In 1811, he found a clump of about apple 20 trees growing on land he had acquired in Dundas County, Ontario, Canada. He transplanted the trees to be closer to his house. All but one died, but he nursed it along, and it became the great-grandmother of all McIntosh apple trees. That tree died in 1908.

Many grafts had been taken from that great-grandmother tree, including some taken by a Samuel Smyth, who worked for McIntosh. Smyth started his own orchard in Dundella, Ontario, which today (2012) is a 24-hectare commercial operation known as Smyth's Apple Orchard, run by Sandra Beckstead, Smyth's great granddaughter.

In the summer of 2011, the last-known of the trees grown from those first-generation grafts taken by Smyth died. The tree was 150 years old. The year before, it had still managed to produce 3 bushels of apples.

At least a dozen cuttings were taken before the tree was cut down, with the aim of cloning the tree. The cuttings were grafted onto root stock in nearby Upper Canada Village. Three took root and are growing.

"(Sandra) Beckstead said while there are some 35 variations of the McIntosh in circulation now, the original was distinct. 'They were much crispier, stayed fresh longer, they were the true McIntosh,' she said of the fruit from that tree." [1]

Literature & Lore

Monument erected in 1912 in Dundela, Dundas County, Ontario, to commemorate the first McIntosh apple tree:


Monument on which the Mcintosh plaque stands

Monument to the Mcintosh Apple
© Denzil Green
The tree actually used to be some 20 rods (330 feet / 100 metres) north of the monument. The exact location is now on private property and is inaccessible.

Mcintosh Apple Plaque Plaque erected in 1912

Plaque on the monument
© Denzil Green
The plaque reads: The original Mcintosh apple tree stood about twenty rods north of this spot. It was one of a number of seedlings taken from the border of the clearings and transplanted by John McIntosh in the year 1796. Erected by Popular Subscription, 1912. [Ed: the 1796 date on the plaque is wrong.]


Language Notes

McIntosh apples were actually known also as Gem apples up until 1935.

Sources

[1] CBC News. Oldest McIntosh apple tree descendant cut down. 25 August 2011. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/offbeat/story/2011/08/25/ottawa-mcintosh-apple-tree-dies.html

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Also called:

Malus McIntosh (Scientific Name)

Citation

Oulton, Randal. "McIntosh Apples." CooksInfo.com. Published 17 October 2002; revised 21 June 2012. Web. Accessed 12/17/2017. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/mcintosh-apples>.

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