Some of the best cider apples initially taste terrible. They’re nicknamed “spitters” for their acerbic flavor—a quality that mellows and results in delicious drinking. Most sweet, edible apples such as Honeycrisp lose all their sugar (and flavor) in the fermentation process.
A handful of cider apples still make for good eating—or, if you’re really ambitious (and have access to a cider press), for brewing at home. Look for these varieties at area farmers markets.
1. Albemarle-Pippin. This colonial-era apple—a favorite of Thomas Jefferson—has crisp flesh and floral flavor.
2. GoldRush. A firm-fleshed fruit and one of the best local eating apples, it’s a tart cousin to Golden Delicious.
3. Crispin (a.k.a. Mutsu). Prized in Asia for its sweet-tart flavor with a hint of spice, this Japanese apple arrived in the US just after World War II.
This article appears in our January 2016 issue of Washingtonian.