It’s fall, and that means it’s time for apples, but which apples are best for snacking, baking, applesauce, salads, savory dishes, and is there an all-around apple? There are so many kinds to choose from! Here’s a list of commonly available varieties for each purpose:
The all-time favorite here is the Honey Crisp – it’s juicy, crunchy, and has unbelievable flavor. The mildly sweet taste of the Red and Golden Delicious apples are always popular, and then there are the Jonagolds which mix the tartness of a Jonathon with the mild flavor of a Golden Delicious. The Braeburns, Galas, and Fuji’s round out the apple varieties that are popular for snacking, with Fuji being the variety for those who love sweetness.
Baking apples need to hold their shape when cooked in pies and tarts and the classics here include the Granny Smith, Jazz, Pink Lady, and Honey Crisp. The Granny Smith is tart, while the Honey Crisp, Jazz and Pink Lady have big apple flavor. For muffins and cakes, Galas and Fujis make good choices because they’re not quite as firm after baking as those that make great pies and tarts.
Here you’re looking for the opposite of a baking apple (you don’t want them to hold their shape), and the McIntosh, Jonathan, and Empire varieties are good choices. They all make wonderfully flavorful sauces, but the Jonathan typically produces a somewhat tart sauce, while the other two produce a sweeter puree.
Many apple varieties do well in a salad, but the classics are the Red or Gold Delicious. The apples that are good for snacking also generally make good salad apples and Cortland and Empire are varieties to try. The Delicious apples really are quite good when fresh and do wonderfully in salads, but many are unwilling to use them because they’ve had so many Delicious apples with poor texture caused by long storage periods (try them fresh instead).
Savory Dish Apples
Here again it’s usually best to go with firmer apples that hold their shape when baked, and it depends on what flavor you’re looking for in the final dish. When pairing apples with chicken or pork, a sweeter apple typically works well whereas if pairing with beef, tarter apples generally work well. A good starting point for chicken or pork would be the Pink Lady while for beef try the Granny Smith. Honey Crisp can usually be paired with either.
Which Apples Are All Around?
I think the number one all-around apple is the Honey Crisp, but they can be expensive – so that’s the apple we’ve planted and grow. The Golden Delicious is another apple that’s traditionally popular for many uses; it just doesn’t have the big flavor of the Honey Crisp.
What apples do you find are best for the various uses?