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Swaar apples are large, round, and have a rough, dull yellow-green with some russetting. “Swaar” refers to their density and heaviness for their size. Their unremarkable appearance belies an excellent flavor, unique among apples. The creamy and fine-grained flesh is rich, spicy, nutty, and sweet that only gets better with storage. The texture also softens over time, turning buttery and tender. In fact, the flavor also improves when slightly bruised through slicing.
Swaar apples are available in the fall through winter.
The Swaar apple is an old American variety of Malus domestica with a Dutch origin. The name Swaar means “heavy” in Dutch, named by the Dutch settlers who first grew it in New York state. The Swaar has a high sugar content, and is one of the last apples to remain on the tree as winter takes hold. They are also more rarely known as Hardwick apples.
Apples contain few calories but several nutrients such as dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, and boron. They are particularly high in dietary fiber, which is important part of the digestion process. The antioxidants found in apples prevent chronic disease such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Swaar apples are good for both fresh eating and for baking into pies. It’s best to put them into storage for a few weeks before eating, since they will soften and the flavor will become more complex. The nutty, sweet flavor pairs well with maple syrup as a sweetener. Swaars can be kept in cold storage for up to about two months.
More consumers today are interested in antique or heritage apples—varieties that were discovered and eaten generations ago in early American history. Swaar is one such variety, originating in the eighteenth century. Swaar and other antique apples often have unusual and complex flavors and textures that add variation to the usual varieties found in grocery stores.
The Swaar was first recorded in Esopus, New York in 1805, but may have been around long before then in the 1770s. The first people to find, name, and eat the Swaar were the Dutch who settled the Hudson River Valley of New York. This apple used to be popular during the 1800s, but has fallen out of favor over time as more commercialized varieties have taken over.