The Finger Lakes region of New York is the birthplace of many famous apple varieties, and to drive through the villages and towns named Cortland, Rome, and Chenango is to take a trip through apple history. Bailey Sweet also originated in this part of New York, but breaking with tradition, it was not named for Perry, the town in which the original seedling was discovered. In fact, by 1800 the apple was being grown throughout the Rochester area under several names, including Patterson Sweet and Chillicothe Sweet. Thankfully, the easier-to-spell Bailey Sweet eventually became the most accepted name.
The fruit is medium in size and roundish in shape. It is covered with a rusty red blush that is interspersed with some slightly darker lines. The most prominent features of the apple are the pronounced white dots that cover the skin and make the apple appear to have been recently dusted with a light snow. Similar to snow flakes, each dot varies in shape from round to elongated and ovate.
Bailey Sweet seems more complex to our taste buds than many "sweet" apples. Perhaps that is because hidden beneath the sugary burst of the first bite is a subtle sub-acid finish. As with most sweet apples, Bailey Sweet is slow to soften when cooked. But if you are not in a hurry, it will turn into a comforting sauce that is thick and creamy with notes of butterscotch and vanilla. Make sure you add plenty of water to the apples so the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Despite being a fall apple, Bailey Sweet does not store well. Keep it in the refrigerator and plan to use it up soon!