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Northern Spy Apples – It’s what’s inside that counts!

“Spys for pies!” says Nan, the pie baking champion of Central Lake. She should know, as she has been cooking apple pies for the swiss steak dinners at the Methodist Church every third Saturday of the month for years and years. Up here, people know their pies and endurance and competence are synonymous when it comes to baking. This famous 200 year old variety has been considered by some experts to be the best apple ever produced in the United States. If you like an old fashioned apple, bite into one to find out why our ancestors went to so much trouble growing fruit.

Northern Spy is a heritage apple variety. Heritage apples, sometimes called heirloom or antique apples, are the old varieties that have stood the test of time. Each variety represented here has been in cultivation for at least 75 years, and represent the best of the old-time apples our grandparents and great-grandparents knew and loved. McIntosh, Jonathon and Northern Spy have consistently ranked at the top of the list of most popular varieties in Michigan for over 100 years, and are still going strong today.

Modern apples are often bigger, more uniform in shape and more highly colored than the heirloom varieties. Traditional varieties were prized for their flavor, not their looks. What Northern Spy may lack in appearance it more than makes up for in flavor.

One fall, Betsy saw our local photographer rummaging around in the cooler and asked him what he was looking for in there. When he said he was trying to find a good looking Spy, she replied that there was no such thing. He kept searching anyway, and the result proves that besides being the best cooking apple, and a tangy, juicy eating apple, the Spy can even on occasion be a “looker”.