A Guide To Apple Varieties
Different types of recipes call for different types of apples and this guide to apple varieties will help you choose correctly.
Apples have been an American favorite since the pilgrims planted the first apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony hundreds of years ago. They are a versatile fruit, perfect for eating out of hand and enhancing both sweet and savory dishes.
How to store apples
Apples are interesting in that they remain alive after they've been picked – they actually continue to “breathe.” Consequently, apples respirate more rapidly in warmer storage areas and will spoil more quickly.
They do bruise easily, so handle them carefully. You should only plan to store an apple if it is blemish-free and lacks what is called “water core,” a term that refers to areas that look glassy on the flesh.
Apples should be kept quite cool – close to but not below 32 degrees F with about 90 percent relative humidity. They can also can be stored in polyethylene bags to help maintain the proper levels of humidity, but don't seal or tie the bags.
And yes, the old adage does remain true: one rotten apple will spoil the barrel, so remove any apples that show signs of deterioration.
How to choose the right apple for your recipe
Listed below are the most common varieties of apples found in US supermarkets.
Some of these varieties are more suitable than others for different types of recipes and each one will lend a slightly different flavor to your finished dish.
Generally speaking, when it comes to baking, you want to choose an apple that offers a good balance of sweet and tart flavors and won't break down and lose it's shape during cooking.
This updated version of a classic Waldorf Salad is made with Granny Smith apples because their tart flavor and crisp texture are the perfect complement to the richness of the mayonnaise in the recipe.
Popular apple varieties & their uses
- Braeburn: Braeburn apples are crisp, sweet and slightly spicy. They're a multi-purpose apple, good for both baking and snacking.
- Cortland: Cortland apples are tender and slightly tart with white flesh that resists discoloration and holds together when cooked. They're a good choice for salads, garnishes and baking.
- Crispin: Crispin apples are sweet, crisp and very juicy. They're best when eaten fresh or roasted whole.
- Fuji: Fuji apples are sweet, crisp and firm fleshed, but they lose their flavor and shape when cooked, so they're best eaten fresh.
- Gala: Gala apples are juicy, crisp and very sweet, but like the Fuji, they lose flavor and shape when cooked, so reserve them for snacking.
- Golden Delicious: Golden Delicious apples are soft textured and quite sweet with pale yellow flesh that resists browning and holds it's shape when cooked. They're great for baking, but you may want to reduce the sugar in your recipe slightly to compensate for their sweetness.
- Granny Smith: Granny Smith apples are crisp, tart and full-flavored. They hold their shape nicely when cooked and are a top choice for apple pie. We like to combine them with Golden Delicious in a pie.
- Jonagold: Jonagold apples are juicy and crisp, with a honey-like sweetness. They're a good multi-purpose apple, delicious for snacking and suitable for baking.
- McIntosh: McIntosh apples are juicy, tart and tangy with soft white flesh that cooks down quickly. Delicious when eaten fresh and a top choice for homemade applesauce.
- Pink Lady: Pink Lady apples have a sweet-tart, complex flavor with firm, somewhat dry flesh. They're best for salads and snacking and, although not a top choice, they can be used for baking.
- Red Delicious: Red Delicious apples are sweet, slightly mealy in texture have a bitter skin. They're best when eaten fresh and not recommended for baking.
- Rome Beauty: Rome Beauty apples are mildly tart, firm and slightly dry in texture. They are an excellent choice for sautéeing and combining with savory ingredients.
Apple nutrition information
Regardless of which apple varieties you enjoy, “an apple a day” is still worthwhile advice.
Relatively low in calories and free from both fat and sodium, apples contain a healthy quantity of dietary fiber as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants, Vitamin C and potassium.
In addition, the water-soluble fiber in apple pectin has been shown to lower cholesterol.