Black Gilliflower is said to be a good baking variety because of its relatively dry flesh. However, we eat the apples fresh as we pick them and find them to be pleasantly tart and fairly juicy. Black Gilliflower cooks quickly into a coarse, bright yellow, unusual sauce. It keeps until February.
This very old, American variety with an odd name probably originated in New England during the 18th Century. The earliest references to the apple are from Connecticut. Originally it was called Red Gilliflower or simply Gilliflower. Where do they get these names?
The OED says that Gillyflower is “any of various cultivated flowers with a scent like that of cloves.” S.A. Beach (author of Apples of New York) calls the apple “peculiarly aromatic, good for dessert and special markets.” So, maybe the name comes from its spicy aroma. Some people call the apple Sheepnose because of its elongated, conic shape that looks like - you guessed it - a sheep’s nose.