There are apples for snacking and baking to suit every taste these days, from crunchy-hard and tart to soft and sweet. Read on for a list of 15 top varieties.
Baking apples should be firm with a full flavor that won’t disappear in the oven. Softer-textured apples are great for making applesauce and apple butter. Whichever kind you buy, they should be fragrant, firm and heavy with smooth skins. Avoid those with blemishes or wrinkling. Apples are at their absolute best in season-from late summer to mid-autumn. Try to taste them right off the tree to understand how good they can be. Store your apples in the refrigerator as cold as possible without freezing. Apples ripen ten time faster at room temperature. Although there are many other outstanding apples to enjoy, here are a few top favorites.
- Braeburn is a pretty New Zealand transplant with a nice blend of tartness and sweetness. Many fans like them better than the Granny Smiths. Good for eating out of hand, salads and baking.
- Fuji apples were introduced from Japan in the 1980’s. They are a cross between the Japanese Mutsu and the California Winesap. Large and sweet with a mild flavor and crisp, juicy flesh. Excellent for eating out of hand, for salads, apple sauce, and baking. Select solid, heavy fruit. In Japan, each apple is protected in the orchard by covering it with a small paper bag. Apples are individually wrapped for the market and may sell up to $ 10.00 each. A good keeper.
- Gala apples have a pretty red/orange skin, a mild, sweet flavor and a nice, firm texture. Developed in New Zealand, they are excellent for snacking, salads and some baking although cooking can destroy the aroma and texture. Not the best keepers.
- Golden Delicious apples (not related to Red Delicious) are very sweet, thin-skinned and aromatic with a juicy, white flesh. They are great for cooking/baking since they retain texture and flavor. They freeze well. The flesh remains white longer; good for use in salads. Also good for apple sauce, pie baking, apple butter and eating out of hand.
- Granny Smith (from Australia) is a grass-green apple primarily marketed for cooking. Many people love the crisp, raw texture and tart taste. Sometimes I can detect floral notes-primarily roses! The best-tasting apples display a little blush. Granny Smiths don’t brown immediately when cut. Excellent in salad, pies and other types of baking.
- Jonagold is a cross between a juicy Jonathon and a sweet Golden Delicious apple. Popular in Europe, the flavor is best when eaten fresh within a couple weeks of picking. Good for pies, apple sauce, salads and eating out of hand.
- Jonathan is a medium apple with a rich distinctive flavor that is moderately tart. It holds its shape and retains full flavor when cooked. Great for pies and eating out of hand. Nice blended with other apples for sauce.
- Lady Apples are one of the oldest cultivated varieties- perhaps dating back to ancient Rome. Mild and colorful with a red-green skin, this small, pretty apple is excellent for eating fresh and is often used in holiday decorations. Fresh Market has carried these apples in season.
- McIntosh are excellent for eating out of hand. They have a fragrant aroma and spicy flavor. Good for apple sauce and in salads. Because they break down while cooking, best used for cobblers and crisps. A great all-purpose apple.
- Mutsu (Crispin) was developed in Japan. The large green apples have a wonderful juicy crunch and sweet-tart flavor. They are excellent for eating out of hand. Outstanding for baking, roasting and apple sauce.
- Newtown Pippin is an old American apple that was grown and written about by Thomas Jefferson. These apples were shipped to Benjamin Franklin in London in 1759. Their sweet-tart flavor and crisp-tender texture makes them an excellent choice for snacking and for cider. They hold their shape and flavor when cooked. Perhaps not the prettiest kid on the block, but called “the prince of apples ” and definitely worth searching for!
- Pink Lady apples are also grown in France, Italy and South Africa. Good in pies, salads and superb as a dessert apple with cheese.
- Red Delicious is the old standby – readily available in most supermarkets. An American favorite. They are good shippers with a shiny red color and uniform shape. The taste doesn’t always live up to the apple’s good-looks and can be a little bland; the texture mushy. Best for eating; not as good for baking.
- Stayman Winesap was developed from the Winesap to create a larger apple with excellent keeping qualities and better flavor. The tart-sweet flavor is outstanding for pie baking and adds character to apple sauce and salads. Great for eating out of hand.
- Winesap apples are small and deep-red with a juicy crunch and sweet-sour flavor. Some connoisseurs detect a wine-like aroma and flavor. Retains flavor when cooked. Excellent for eating out of hand, for thick apple sauce and pie baking. Nice with wine and cheese. Valued highly for cider-making.