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Oct 11, 2008 06:34 AM

looking for cooking apples

I'm looking for apples to make apple pie. Is there any place in Toronto that you can get Northern Spy apples? it would be wonderful to find Wolfe River -- they were my mother's choice any other suggestions.. sorry I do not make pie with McIntosh, Granny Smith or Delicious apples.


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  1. Just finished cooking what I believe to be Ontario Golden Delicious in caramel to make apple pie. I really like the taste and texture of Golden Delicious apples for apple pie, Red Delicious are way too watery to be made into pie and I also dislike Red Delicious. Mind you I only use Golden Delicious in the early part of the apple season, then they tend to be too soft to cook in caramel later in the season. Then I use Granny Smith apples which always stand up to caramel.

    Was never was a fan of Northern Spy apples, thought they where a little too watery. I know that a starch is often added to the apples to absorb the excess liquid. However, I’m not fond of floury apple pie.

    If you’re making the traditional apple pie, i.e. sliced apples, cinnamon, sugar, then I don’t see why McIntosh apples will not work for you. Ideally the apples need to stand up to the baking process, so for example when making Tarte Tatin you are best off using Granny Smith apples. Granny Smith will stand up to the heat of the caramel, that way you don’t end up with apple sauce.

    As a child in the 70’s I can remember more varieties of apples, such as one of my favorites being Snow Apples. There seems to be fewer varieties of apples around these days, so I’m unsure where you will find something else that will work well for you. Here are some links about the some apple varieties and there uses and

    Hope this helps.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Pastryrocks

      I bake/cook with either Northern Spy's or Spartan's. Northern Spys are harder to come by in the 'supermarket sense' but in the past have found them at 'local' greengrocers so you could try those places in your area. I find that the Spartan's 'hold up' better than almost any other apples for cooking or baking. They are in good supply at this time.

      1. re: Pastryrocks


        Thanks for the reply and suggestions; it may be that I will have to start looking for alternatives. I rather find Delicious too dry and just never have gotten into making pie (on those rare occasions that I make it) with Granny Smith. I suppose in this case it is a matter of what I grew up eating. My mother really was a wonderful pie maker; between October and March, Sunday night dessert was apple pie.. apples with white sugar and, yes, some flour - no nutmeg or cinnamon. So I tend to do the same; plain unadorned apple pie, (cheddar cheese on top is good).

        I definitely do not like pie made with McIntosh apples; they “cook down’ far too much for my liking.

        Northern Spy are really not my first choice, but Gravensteins and Wolf River are all but impossible to find. I don’t know why Wolf River are so difficult. The trees are supposed to be very hardy and the apples resistant to blight etc, I guess they may not be considered as “pretty” as some other varieties.

        I’m certainly with you on Snow Apples. It would be wonderful to find some. I think that they bruise easily and apparently the trees only bear fruit bi-annually; not a great incentive for growers I expect.

        I did find great site (even if US) that has good and extensive info about vanities of apples

        but as for the apples themselves, I guess with the great weather we have been having, it is time to head off down Highway 2 towards Brighton

        but would still like to know about any places in TO



        1. re: Janetf

          If you are heading down the apple route, check out Pieter's Apple Yard just west of Brighton. They have snow apples, as well as other heirloom varieties and the common types as well. They do pick your own and pre-picked, depending on variety.

      2. Russet apples are my favorite for cooking and eating, Pusateri's fruit market on Church south of Wellesly carry them and several other varieties, they are best right now as they don't store as well as some others

        1. What's wrong with Cortlands and Empires? In season and widely available. Both work well for pies.

          1. Last week I was speaking to a farmer about spy apples. He said that the Ida Red variety is an excellent substitute because they don't spoil as quickly, don't need a frost to bring out the flavour and they are great for cooking. They might be worth a try.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Marniee

              Yes, I think that Ida Reds or Cortlands might be a good choice, I often use them for baked apples. I thought that there was something about either Ida Reds or Cortlands needing a frost, but quite possibly a bit of an "old wives tale" as I didn't find any good specific references when I googled it, although there were some general references to apples grown in cold climates being sweeter after a light frost. Definitely not a possibility this Thanksgiving. Am also think of trying Honeycrisp . Doing a little more web browsing I find that it may be a bit early for Northern Spy . They are a late October apple and with the weather so warm it seems that it would be a very unlikely choice.

              By the way I use McIntosh and Empire apples for apple sauce all the time.. Usually mixed with something else. Only problem is I cook mine after peeling and smaller apples take longer to peel.

              I eat Golden Russets out of hand.. I think they may be a bit more expensive than some alternatives, not that that is a big problem but I guess I have some vague idea about "traditional" pie and they would not usually be made out of more expensive dessert apples.

              Thanks for everyone's responses much appreciated


              1. re: Janetf

                Janet - I also insist on Northern Spy for my pies - but I do a mix of Spy, McIntosh, and sometimes add a few others into the mix based on what I find that looks and tastes good.

                I used to live in Whitby and back then went to Algoma Orchards and knew exactly when each apple was available - but from memory, there does need to be a good amount of cold weather before the Spy's are available. This weekend has been chilly, but I don't know if there would have been enough frost.

                The best part of Algoma Orchards was that I could buy apples by the 1/4, 1/2 or full bushel and the apples were fresh and prices were great.

                Having moved downtown, I find the most reliable place to find Northern Spy's - even out of season - is Longo's - they seem to have them when nobody else does.

                Happy Baking!

                1. re: LovelyAsia

                  I can confirm that as of this weekend, Algoma does indeed have Northern Spy apples. If you make the journey to Whitby, don't leave without buying some of their homemade fudge, pecan tarts, or candy apples. Cider too, don't forget the cider!

            2. I get Spy's regularly at Badali's fruit market on Bayview south of Eglinton...great variety of apples and top quality.