The comprehensive resource for apples and orchards

McIntosh apple



McIntosh is without doubt one of the great North American apple varieties.  Like its 19th century contemporaries Golden Delicious and Red Delicious, it has become a highly influential apple variety with numerous offspring.  However unlike those varieties its popularity has not spread outside North America, and indeed most "Mac" production, remains centred in New England and across the border in Quebec and Ontario.

The apple was discovered by a John McIntosh, a farmer in Ontario in the early 19th century, and he and his family became involved in propagating the variety.  The McIntosh apple was ideally suited to the climate of the area, being a heavy and reliable cropper with good cold hardiness.  McIntosh achieves its best flavor in colder apple-growing regions.

The McIntosh style is typified by attractive dark red or (more often) crimson colours, and a crunchy bite, often with bright white flesh. The flavor is simple and direct, generally sweet but with refreshing acidity, and usually a hint of wine - often referred to as "vinous".

In general these apples keep reasonably well in store, but the flavor falls away quite rapidly - although remaining perfectly pleasant.  Nevertheless to get the full vinous sugar rush it is best straight from the tree.

These characteristics - the crimson colour, white flesh, and vinous flavour (which fades in storage) - are invariably apparent in its numerous offspring, making this one of the easiest apple styles to identify in taste tests.  Indeed McIntosh appears to have very strong genes because its offspring are invariably crimson-colored with bright white flesh, regardless of the nature of the other parent.  As a result, telling the offspring apart is a not that easy - the distinctive Mac flavor tends to cut across the characteristics of the other parent.  (The one exception is Sunrise, an excellent apple in its own right, but with a very different flavor and a more obvious visual similarity to its other parent, Golden Delicious).

Here is an interesting photo showing several of the McIntosh family together:

McIntosh apple family

Left to right: Fameuse, McIntosh, Cortland, Liberty, Lobo, Spartan, Sunrise.

McIntosh remains very popular in the north-eastern USA, and across the border in Ontario and Quebec.  However it is probably fair to say that most of its offspring are actually better apples in one way or another.  They invariably exhibit "that" flavor, often better than the Mac itself, as well as offering other attributes such as being easier to grow or storing better.  However for many Mac enthusiasts only the original will do.

Last updated 01 Jan 2014.

Rate this variety for flavor

Current rating: 4.6 out of 5. Total votes cast: 44
 

Visitor comments

(Use the form at the bottom to add your own comments about this variety)

09 Jan 2014 
I live in North East England, and like someone mentioned earlier, in my childhood Macintosh apples were a Christmas treat! To me there is no better apple. I can usually get them near Christmas, presume that is to do with when they harvest. However in 2012 I couldn't find any, this Christmas they were thankfully in the shops again, but I was disappointed as quite a lot of the ones I bought did not have their usual distintive flavour. Hope next Christmas they are back to normal.


02 Feb 2013 
Mackintosh apples are my absolute favorite and they seem to get harder to find every year. I buy them up in the fall -- as many as I think we can eat. I wish mackintosh were sold in more stores and available for more months of the year.


09 Jan 2013 
Bo - This apple has classic apple flavor, medium crispness, mildly sweet, very easy to eat. Brent - this is what every apple aspires to be. Crisp, sweet, healthy and not too large.


11 Dec 2012 
I originate from the NE of England where we used to have them for some reason only at Christmas. For this reason their lovely sweetness is always associated in my mind with this time of the year. I have looked for these apples without success for years and often still eat Spartan and Empire but would love to have the original apple once again.


09 Sep 2012 
The only Eastern apple I can get in UT. One of my favorites and am glad to at least get this apple in the fall to fulfill my longing for a good apple.


11 Jan 2012 
I agree mac reds are the best apple but really hard to find in Scotland . You are so lucky being able to eat them any time


10 Nov 2011 
McIntosh are my favorite apple. I also have found that other types of apples are often sold as Macs. What a disappointment! I am currently working for an apple grower in western PA and am thrilled to have access to as many McIntosh as I want for the first time in my life! I spent fifteen years living in western Montana, imagine my delight to find that one place McIntosh are grown outside of the northeastern US is the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana!


15 Sep 2011 
macintosh apples are the best for applesauce. I have tried other apple varieties, however always return to macs. If you don't add extra water the applesauce is not too runny. Also I do not add very much sugar at all. I like the original flavor. I have been canning Macintosh applesauce every Fall for 20 years.


09 May 2011 
These are the best apples in the entire world. I can do amazing things with these apples. For example: My mom makes some amazing applesauce. When I have to fight off zombies, these apple are great for restorting my energy!


25 Mar 2011 
I find it surprising to see all of the comments about how hard it is to find Macs in the U.K. McIntosh apples are as common as dandelions in Nova Scotia, both the trees and the apples, in stores and farmers' markets. I love them straight off the tree, but what a terrible apple after a few months' storage! They go terribly mushy. I much prefer an Empire or Gala straight out of controlled atmosphere storage.


08 Feb 2011 
I love this apple. Great for eating whole because it's so soft. Doesn't have the best shelf life though, and because it is a little more tart than I usually like it is my favourite snacking apple.


14 Nov 2010 
I grew up eating only Macs. My mom's apple pie and applesauce were the best ever, and almost never runny. I'm having a difficult time finding what I consider a true Mac for eating and making Thanksgiving pies. I try to find apples without yellow lines on the skin because those are not what I'm looking for. (They are usually hard, like a red delicious.) Give me a pure green and red skin. I have been comparing PLU numbers to see if that is the key to a good Mac apple. I found some #4154 yesterday that were good. They have only a hint of yellow dotting on them. I'm glad that other people can tell the difference.


27 Jul 2010 
I have found what certainly taste like Jersey Macs and Jonamacs being sold as true McIntoshes, of late, especially late in the season. It is a disappointing surprise. I have not yet found a reliable way to distinguish them, but have reduced my bad experiences by looking very carefully at the signs and, where applicable, stickers. You want PLU (price look-up) number 4019, 4152, 4153, or 4154. Other numbers are different varieties, and you don't need to be a super-taster to recognize them. (I'm not!) My son eats all of my true McIntoshes, but leaves the Jonamacs and Jersey Macs for me to eat. =(


16 Jun 2010 
I'm happy to have found this post - thanks for the information. John McIntosh was my 3xgreat-grandfather, and I want to grow some of his trees for fruit, now that I find myself living in the UK, not Canada. As the climate is very different here, can anyone give me advice, please?


02 Nov 2009 
See my other post. You are an hour away from Blackpool - and they are in stock now [Oct 20090 ;)) I'd love a tree and cannot find a stockist. Guess what I'm doing with my pips today?


02 Nov 2009 
I agree - the best but incredibly hard to find. Cildren always love them - even those who 'don't like apples'. However, if you happen to be going to Blackpool (town of mt birth) Abingdon Street market usually sells them. I now live hundreds of miles away and always bring them back when i visit as they seem impossible to find in Suffolk Btw - while you are at the market - buy yourself some crumbly Lancashire cheese and eat them together. A food marriage mad ein heaven!!


23 Oct 2009 
Tip for British readers: try to prepare this apple like we do in New England, especially if you have children-make it into sauce! If you take care and do not peel the apple while preparing the sauce, it will turn a nice shade of pink, and will convince a finicky child to eat it with her pork chops.


18 Dec 2008 
i love this variety of apple. there is not another one that comes close to the flavour and texture. i would love to have a tree of my own


25 Oct 2008 
I agree with the posters who say that Macs are best eaten early, right off the tree, if possible. I slice and kind of fry them with porkchops and a shake of cinnamon. Yummmmm! Applesauce? Aren't most Canadian commercial apple sauces made from Macs. My mother's homemade apple sauce was perhaps a bit runny, but delicious. I think of all other apples as exotics since I grew up with Macs.


08 Oct 2008 
I grew up in Pennsylvania (now living in Massachusetts, much further north) and find that the McIntosh I knew from Pennsylvania are different in flavor than the ones I eat here in Massachusetts. Pennsylvania is close to the southern limit for this cultivar, and the McIntosh one finds from Pennsylvania are much less tart than the ones I eat now. I think the flavor is much better when the acidity asserts itself. The interplay between sweet and tart makes the flavor more interesting than when the flavor is primarily sweet and not much else. This is a poor apple for baking. It has a very large amount of liquid stored in its flesh which is released in the heat of cooking. It must be combined with other apples if one is making a pie. If you only use McIntosh as your pie filling instead of apple pie you will end up with apple soup inside a soggy pastry shell! Likewise if one is making apple sauce with McIntosh the sauce will be unusually runny. On the plus side, its flavor combines well with other apples, so one can compensate for the juice it releases during cooking by mixing it with other, drier apples


12 Sep 2008 
Do you know where i can buy mackintosh reds in my area


30 Jul 2008 
The juiciest, most delicious apple there is. Sadly you have to look very hard to find in England as most of the major supermarkets dont sell it - although the hybrid EMPIRE is popular. Independent retailers are the only option.


22 May 2008 
I agree with this description and have loved McIntosh apples for years, but now cannot find them with this flavor and texture. Have they hybridized them for better shipping? Now the apples sold in my area as McIntosh taste completely different!



Add your comments about this variety

Have you tasted this variety ? Do you agree or disagree with our tasting notes ? Enter your comments below. Please tell us your name (just first name if you wish) and email address, and if possible the nearest city. Your name and location, but not your email address, may be published on this website. All comments are reviewed before publishing.

Your email   required
Name   required
City   optional
State / County   optional
Country    required
Comments
Password   Create a password for your account
Organisation   optional
Security question: What is the 1st or 2nd word of the name of this website (in big letters in the banner of this page)?
Answer
We send 2-3 newsletters per year, please let us know if you would like to receive them. Rest assured that we do not buy or sell email addresses - for more details see our privacy policy.
Newsletters

A crisp red apple with bright white flesh and refreshing sweet flavor.

McIntosh phototape

Origins

  • Species: Malus domestica
  • Parentage: Probably Fameuse, possibly crossed with Detroit Red
  • Originates from: St. Lawrence valley, Canada
  • Introduced: 1820s
  • Developed by: John McIntosh
  • Orange Pippin Cultivar ID: 1087
  • UK National Fruit Collection accession number: 2006-014
  • We are grateful to Brogdale Farm - home of the UK National Fruit Collection - for providing samples of this variety.

Identification

  • Fruit colour: Red
  • Flesh colour: White
  • Flesh colour: White to Cream, pale yellow
  • Flesh colour: Pale Pink or Red
  • Flesh colour: Yellow to Very Yellow
  • Fruit size: Medium
  • Fruit size: Variable
  • Bultitude apple group: 6. Red flushed, smooth, sweet

Using

  • Uses: Eat fresh
  • Uses: Cooking
  • Cooking result: Textured puree
  • Harvest period: Late season

Growing

  • Flowering period: Early-Mid season
  • Flowering group: 2
  • Fertility: Self-sterile
  • Ploidy: Diploid
  • Vigour: Average growth
  • Period of origin: 1800 - 1849

Disease resistance

  • Cedar apple rust  - Some resistance
  • Fireblight  - Some susceptibility

Relationships to other varieties

Parents and other ancestors of this variety:

Offspring of this variety:

References and further reading about this variety

  • Cedar-Apple Rust  
    Author: Stephen Vann, University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture (FSA7538)
    Rated as very resistant - no control needed against CAR.

McIntosh identification photos from official fruit collections

UK National Fruit Collection

©Crown Copyright more >
UK National Fruit Collection

McIntosh identification photos from website visitors


McIntosh apples, Eastern Townships, Quebec
McIntosh apples, Eastern Townships, Quebec

McIntosh apple, New York state
McIntosh apple, New York state

McIntosh apples, Brogdale Farm, UK
McIntosh apples, Brogdale Farm, UK


Fruit tree register

Do you have a tree of this variety in your garden or orchard? If so please register the details here and contribute to our international register of fruit trees.

The following McIntosh trees have been registered - click the name to view more details of each tree.

You can also view these trees on a map.

United States

Canada

Australia



Latest Spring blossom records for this variety

2013 season

  • 9th May  2013  - tree owned by Albany in Castleton, United States

2012 season

  • 1st June  2012  - tree owned by Patsy in MONT-TREMBLANT, Canada
  • 7th May  2012  - tree owned by Peter in BRIDGETOWN, Canada
  • 18th April  2012  - tree owned by Albany in Castleton, United States

Record your blossom dates in our Fruit Tree Register - more >>.

Latest harvest records for this variety

2013 season

  • 1st week October  2013  - tree owned by Alison in ALBION, United States
  • October  2013  - tree owned by Adam in EVANSTON, United States

2012 season

  • 2nd week September  2012  - tree owned by Peter in BRIDGETOWN, Canada

Where to buy apple trees

The following fruit tree nurseries offer McIntosh apple trees for sale:

  • Cummins Nursery
    United States  More >>

Where to buy apples

United Statesmap >


Canadamap >






Sign in | Register

Varieties you viewed


Top 10 Varieties

Top 10 highest ranked varieties

Top 10 most voted on varieties


Events


©2014 Orange Pippin Ltd. All rights reserved.
Website by: Amarsys and Black Twig
You may not reproduce any of the content of this website withour our express permission.
We do not accept any liability for loss or damage incurred as a result of any errors in the content of this website.