Northern Spy

Why you should be excited

Northern Spy is a classic eastern North American variety that’s revered as a pie apple by folks in that region.

The story of Northern Spy

From the late 17th through early 19th centuries, eastern North America was likely the greatest producer of new apple varieties the world has ever known.

The early development of the continent by Europeans featured great need for food and drink, but a dearth of infrastructure to produce it, including fruit tree nurseries.

How to grow apple trees without nurseries? The only possible answer was to plant tens of thousands of apple seeds – each guaranteed to produce a brand-new apple variety of unknown quality – and hope for the best. Settlers planted huge orchards this way and the best of the resulting trees – including Northern Spy – were North America’s gifts to the world.

It was a huge – if inefficient – contribution to apple diversity.

Northern Spy Facts

Its origins

Raised as a seedling in East Bloomfield, New York, USA, circa 1800.

Flavour, aroma, texture

Crisp, cream-coloured flesh has a rich, aromatic and powerful apple flavour with plenty of fruitiness and lots of sweetness and acidity.


There's a dark red flush and bright red stripes over the pale yellow background of this medium to large-sized apple.

When they’re available

Very late season (usually in early November).

Quality for fresh eating


Quality for cooking


Quality for cider

Northern Spy was used extensively in cider back in the 19th century and is being used again today, including in some single variety ciders.

Keeping ability

Good (3 months or more when kept refrigerated).