It's fun to find a piece of fruit that has an interesting story to tell. This is the case with the Rhode Island Greening apple. This apple first appeared around 1650. People were eating this apple long before the first shots of the American Revolution were fired. It was first grown in of course Rhode Island, where it is the official state fruit today.
As for availability, this apple is harvested in early October and can keep well in storage for months. It can be found mainly in the northeastern part of the country. In the northwest there is a counterpart called the Northwest Greening that is suppose to be similar. It does not grow well in southern climates. Most of it's commercial use is in applesauce and pies, so you will most likely only find this apple in it's whole form from a local farmer.
My Experience with this Apple (Rating Scale 1-10)
Tartness : 7
Apple Flavor: 9
Overall Feeling: If like the Granny Smith apple, you will love the Rhode Island Greening. I think it has a much better flavor than a Granny Smith. It can be eaten out of hand if you like more tart apples. It's a really great apple for baking, particularly in pies. Whenever a recipe calls for a Granny Smith, if you can get your hands on a Rhode Island Greening instead, you will be pleased with the results.
Good write-up. May I use your picture of the Greening apples in an upcoming publication with a chapter covering Civil War foods? I will give you full credit for the image.
N. H. Ellis