I have currently found myself in the deep winter of Northern Wisconsin. With several feet of snow outside and below zero temperatures that make the otherwise deliciously picturesque wonderland that looks so appealing from beside the wood stove almost intolerable even when dressed in all the winter garb you came with, I thought it apropos to tell the story of the Winter Banana. I was introduced to this apple for the first time this past fall while picking in New Hampshire. Having a name which to some may seem contradictory in terms, the Winter Banana is considered an heirloom variety and although it has often been used for fruit baskets, because of its beautiful appearance it is more commonly planted today to serve as a pollinator for other varieties.
At Moose Hill Orchard where I picked this fall, it could often be found planted among Cortlands and Red Delicious as well as Mutsus. The Fruit, which often is incredibly waxy to the touch can sometimes have the aroma of a banana (my girlfriend thinks they give off an olfactory sensation similar to Runts). The apple is very late to ripen, and cool frosty nights are needed to sweeten the flesh and make the texture more palatable. In New Hampshire it is harvested very last, usually after most of the crew has already departed. Often a small group of only two or three pickers will be sent out in the cold early weeks of November with a tractor. They will drive up and down the rows of trees stopping at each one baring the glowing spheres. The apples with bright crimson blush which looks almost painted on would still stand out even if they weren't the only apples left in the orchard. Often one bin is all that is required for the few people what will wander into the packing shed looking for Winter Bananas.
Grower information about this apple is available here.