Spartan apples are a small to medium in size, generally smaller than the commercial varieties offered in present-day markets, but the variety can grow larger when heavily thinned and cultivated in ideal climates. The variety is round, conical, slightly flattened, and has prominent ribbing on the semi-thin, smooth, and taut skin. The skin also has a yellow-green base covered in large patches of dark red to bright red blush and striping. When the variety is left on the tree for extended periods in full sun, the blush will deepen to a characteristic dark purple-red hue reminiscent of plums or red wine. It is important to note that some apples may carry a natural bloom on the surface, giving the fruits a matte, faded appearance. This bloom can be easily wiped from the surface to reveal a more vibrant coloring. Underneath the skin, the apple's white flesh is dense, fine-grained, and aqueous with a crisp, succulent, and tender consistency. The flesh also encases a small central core filled with tiny black-brown seeds. Spartan apples are aromatic and are initially sweet and tart with a slight vinous taste when harvested off the tree. As the apples are kept in storage, their flavor mellows into a light and sweet flavor.
Spartan apples have a balanced, sweet-tart taste suited for fresh and cooked preparations. The variety is said to have the best flavor when consumed straight off the tree, and in the late 20th century in British Columbia, the apples were often served as a palate cleanser after meals. Spartan apples can also be chopped into salads, grated into slaws, or sliced and served with dips such as nut butter, chocolate, or caramel. The fruits have a firm, crisp consistency allowing them to add crunch to sandwiches and texture to cheese boards. In addition to fresh preparations, Spartan apples are commonly cooked into apple sauce. The fruits are combined with other varieties to create a dynamic flavor, and the sauce is served as an accompaniment to meat and other main dishes. Try simmering Spartan apples to make flavorful jams, jellies, and syrups. Spartan apples hold their shape well and can be incorporated into pies, cakes, crisps, tarts, and turnovers. The variety's sweet taste also complements savory recipes such as fritters, soups, adding to stuffing and cooking into chutney. Beyond culinary recipes, Spartan apples are favored for juicing and are mixed into ciders, fruit punches, smoothies, and cocktails. Spartan apples pair well with cheeses like blue, parmesan, and gruyere, parsnips, potatoes, meats such as pork, poultry, and turkey, and herbs such as mint, basil, and rosemary. Whole, unwashed Spartan apples will keep for several weeks when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place, such as the refrigerator's crisper drawer. In cold storage, the apples can keep for three months or longer.