This guide to apples tells you everything you need to know about 9 different varieties. Learn which ones are best for eating fresh, cooking and baking.
With the first day of fall just 2 days away, it seemed like the appropriate time to talk about apples. If we’re being honest, apples are pretty much on the bottom of my fruit totem pole. They’ll never even come close to competing with my beloved peaches or any berries for that matter but, they’re what fall gives us, especially in New York and I can’t say I don’t enjoy a few slices with some sharp cheddar or an apple cheddar crumble bar (an apple without cheese is like a hug without a squeeze) every now and then as a snack.
For this month’s seasonal eating post with my partner, Silk we’re talking about everything there is to know when it comes to apples. I went to my local market, picked up one of each of all the varieties they had available. So while this isn’t a comprehensive list of every apple out there (there are FAR too many to do that), it’s what’s local to me right now and I’m pretty sure you’ll find a few of your favorites on the list.
We also have a lot more in-depth information on baking with apples including which varieties make the pies, muffins, etc.
A Guide to Apples
I figured I’d start with the all-time favorite of most apple eaters out there. Honeycrisp are considered one of the best (if not the best) fresh eating apples out there. They’re crisp and a bit sweet, with an undertone of honey flavor, just as their name suggests. They’re also great for making applesauce if you don’t eat them all first!
Thought to be a descendant of McIntosh, Paula Reds are similar in that you can both eat them fresh and cook with them. They have a dustier exterior appearance and are just a bit tart as well as sweet. They become very soft when cooked which lends them perfectly to applesauce.
Fujis are big (check them out below versus the others!). They’re a sweet apple that was originally crossed with a Red Delicious. Fujis will keep well for weeks in a fruit bowl on your counter. Their sweetness makes them great for eating raw or in salads and slaws.
Red Delicious are one of the most popular apples grown in the United States. They’re available year round and a great snacking apple. While never a favorite of mine, they’re a sweet apple that many like. They’re best kept in the refrigerator to maintain their texture and freshness. Their soft interior doesn’t lend them too well to baking.
Ginger golds are a descendant of the Golden Delicious apple which is pretty obvious from their resemblance. They’re sweet and mildly tart but the neatest thing about them is that when cut, their flesh doesn’t oxidize (turn brown) right away like many other apples. They hold their shape well when cooked and are great in pies. They’ll also last for about 3 months if stored in the refrigerator.
Galas resemble the Red Delicious or Golden Delicious in shape (taller than it is wide). They’re similar to Fuji in that they’re great for eating raw thanks to their thin skin and sweet taste. Galas are not great for cooking as they become rubbery and lose their fragrance. Stick to snacking on them or throwing them in salads and such. Gala apples are great for cider too!
Cripps Pink (Pink Lady)
Cripps Pink (also referred to as Pink Lady) apples are a great all-around apple. Their firm, crisp flesh has a tangy-tart and sweet flavor that is great for both eating raw and baking/cooking. They’re also slow to oxidize which makes for a great addition to a cheese/appetizer platter.
Cortlands are regarded for their all-around use in cooking and baking. Many leave the skin on when making applesauce with this apple for a pretty shade of pink when pureed. They’re great for apple pie, applesauce and apple butter (like in this savory thyme pear apple butter).
Granny Smiths are very tart apples with a bright green skin making them hard to miss or forget once you’ve taken a bite! If you love a tart apple (like me!), this is the one for you to eat raw. Most though, prefer to cook with the Granny Smith as it holds up very well when heated and provides a great contrast in flavor to savory dishes.
Apple recipes from Running to the Kitchen
Leek Apple Cheddar Soup
Slow Cooker BBQ Apple Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Carrot Apple Slaw
Apple Fritter Muffins
Turkey Cheddar Apple Butter Panini
Apple Carrot Pancakes
Turkey and Sage Stuffed Apples
Apple Streusel Bread
Apple Nut Porridge
Chicken Apple Cheddar Chili
Cinnamon Apple Sugar Cake
This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.