Apple season (and apple-picking) is well under way, but what apples are the best? The wide array of colours, flavours and textures are great for eating, cooking and baking—but with thousands of varieties available, it’s hard to know which apple is best for each preparation. Here’s a guide to 10 common varieties.
Sweet, fragrant and crisp, the Gala is the favourite apple of the Chatelaine Kitchen because of its versatility. They’re equally delicious baked, pressed into cider, and with sweet flavour, crisp bite and thin skin they’re also a great grab-n-go snack.
Known for their bright green skin, Granny Smiths are crisp, firm and quite sour. They’re good all-around cooking apples, with a firm texture that holds up well when baked. Granny Smiths are the ultimate apple for apple pie as the tart flavour is well-balanced against the sweetness of the filling. They take longer to soften, so pair them with sweeter apples in pies and crisps.
This late-ripening variety stores well and is great for eating raw. Fuji has become one of the most popular varieties on the market. Named for Mt. Fuji in Japan, these crisp and sweet apples are perfect for adding to salads, sandwiches and slaws. They also break down very well, so they make an ideal candidate for applesauce.
Mellow and sweet, these are great for applesauce. If you’re baking a pie, pair them with a firmer apple. Bright yellow with a soft texture, Golden Delicious apples are ideal for salads because they don’t brown as quickly as other varieties. Keep in mind that they tend to bruise easily, so it is recommended to use them right away.
Known for their white, juicy flesh, McIntosh apples are best eaten raw or used in applesauce or apple butter. The soft flesh breaks down in baked goods so avoid using McIntosh in pies or crumbles. Refreshingly tart, they get sweeter as they ripen. Great for making apple sauce or eating fresh.
This is a small, sweet apple, good for baked desserts or eating fresh.
The Empire is a cross between the Red Delicious and McIntosh. This sweet and juicy round apple has a bright red skin with hints of green. Crisp and firm, this apple holds up well and are great for making into applesauce. (They can get mushy when baked.)
Ridiculously juicy, crunchy and sweet, these are great snacking apples.
Crisp, sweet and juicy, these are great grab-and-go snack apples.
Oatmeal stuffed apples
Mildly sweet and juicy with a good crunch, these are ideal in salads (they’re slow to brown) or baked desserts.
Baked ginger apples
When shopping for apples, choose fruits that are firm and have a smooth skin without any wrinkles or bruises. Store them in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to a month.
• Apples give off ethylene gas, which can help ripen other fruit. Place unripe avocados or tomatoes in a bag with an apple to get them ready to eat faster.
• Whatever the variety, any mealy or overly soft apples are prime candidates for making applesauce.
• Apples are part of the rose family.
• The crabapple is North America’s only native apple.