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Variety Spotlight - Baldwin

As part of this series on different apple varieties, a selection of hybrids and chance seedlings is included to show the creativity of Mother Nature as well as the skill required by the hands that mimic her habits. One such apple of chance parentage, but which rocketed to popularity in the 1800s, is the Baldwin apple.

The earliest known Baldwin reached maturity in an orchard in the heart of Massachusetts, in the orchards of Loammi Baldwin. By the early 1800s the apple soared to popularity because of its great cider characteristics as well as suitability for cooking. Whether it was pie or cider Baldwins were the apple that everyone was reaching for. As with most heritage varieties, Baldwins also keep extremely well (perhaps even rivaling the renowned shelf-life of Winesaps, which were featured earlier in the series), which also contributed to their popularity.

For cider making, Baldwins are typically considered to be sweet-sharps. What they lack in tannin they make up for in high sugars and high acidity. Although no Connecticut cider makers are using Baldwins exclusively at the moment, the apple does have some popularity over in neighboring New York. CiderCraft recently put together a guide of single-varietal Baldwin ciders, two of which are produced in New York.

Baldwin apples are fairly common and abundant in Connecticut. Cider producers such as Bishop's Orchard and Staehly Farms (Which supplies apples for Yankee Cider Company) offer these apples for purchase at their farm markets, and orchards such as Scott's Yankee Farmer have them for pick-your-own as well.

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