Friday, September 26, 2008


This McIntosh cross (with Ben Davis, a nearly defunct variety) is prized for salads and fruit cups because it browns only slowly when cut. But doesn't it deserve to be taken seriously for its other qualities? Cortland has been around for more than a century.

This medium-large fruit is painted with a streaky red blush--deep red in spots--over yellow-green, with light tan spots. It is firm in the hand and noticibly ribbed.

The flesh is everything you'd want from a McIntosh heir: snowy white, fine-grained, crisp, and loaded with sweet juice. The taste is pleasant but unassuming.

Despite a little spicy bite at the begining, Cortland's flavor is mild, generally sweet, and cidery. It's not syrupy by any means but there is very little balancing tartness or acidity. The peel comes forth in the finish.

Like Macoun, Cortland was introduced by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva at Cornell. It is also popular for pies.


  1. I used to think Cortland was a somewhat mealy apple only good for cooking. Then we bought property that had a Cortland tree on it. It was in sad shape — was badly infested with borers and brought scab to the whole orchard — but it put out two small apples of ambrosial taste explosions and sublime crispness. I have never had a Cortland that approached these apples. The tree had never been pruned and was choked with vegetative growth, so I pruned it severely during the winter, and this spring it conquered its borers. I also gave it a ramial chip ring, which helps fertilize and more importantly, supports the fungal growth that really feeds a tree. In the summer that tree yielded two normal-sized apples in a year when nothing else was bearing, and they are just as perfect as last year's. A tiny crop but the tree has been sorely taxed. I tell this story to make the point that the commercial Cortlands tend to be waterlogged and tasteless, but one from a tree that has not been fertilized with the petroleum-based fertilizers can be an apple so sublime you would think it was a different variety.

    1. Shelah, how have you been? And how are your trees?

      I wonder if there is some trick of technique or terrior in growing this apple. My samples have all been farm fresh, not mediated by the wholesale distribution chain.

      Keep in touch!

  2. We have about a dozen Cortlands at my family's farm, no fertilizers, just trimmed each year and the apples are awesome! We pick about 150lbs and store bushels in our garage back in the city for later eating. Each week we sort and pick those for eating, baking or canning.


Join the conversation! We'd love to know what you think.