Charette is an extremely hardy variety that performs best in northern districts. It is thought to have been brought south into Maine by French missionaries. The parentage is unknown but perhaps it is the result of someone planting an Alexander seed. Alexander was brought to Maine from Russia via England in 1813 and somewhat resembles Charette. (Alexander is known to be one of the parents of the equally large Wolf River.) The only known mature Charette tree is located on Charette Hill in Fort Kent, ME. The massive tree, thought to be about 200 years old, is still producing large crops.
The fruit of the Charette tree is distinctive because the blossom end of the apple is often sunken in toward the stem, so much so that when sliced perpendicular to the core, the slices sometimes look like donuts, hence the alternate name, Donut Apple.
For such a large apple, Charette is surprisingly good for fresh eating. Can you detect the taste of banana? We think it is a much better dessert fruit than other huge apples, such as Wolf River. Charette cooks up into a light pink sauce; the banana hints disappear, and other spicy flavors show up. No need to add sugar or peel the apples since the skins chew up easily. We like the apples sliced and lightly sautéed in butter, although they lose their shape if cooked too long. As a baked apple, the flesh became soft, and the flavor reminds us of bananas flambé (yum). Try it in a pie too; hold off on the lemon juice and add a little vanilla - we loved it.