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As autumn approaches and the air turns crisp, so do the apples. Thankfully, the variety of readily available apples has increased in recent years. And, gone are the days of only Red and Golden Delicious, or Granny Smith apples to choose from.
We've chosen five apple varieties that are widely available and range from super-sweet to very tart. The range includes the best varieties for snacking and using in salads to those apples whose taste and texture can stand up to cooking and baking. I've even included my favorite pick from the bushel.
I won't bother with the ubiquitous Red Delicious apple, as I think we've all eaten enough of them, and as you'll see there are plenty of better apples to stuff into a lunch bag.
Envy apples are a cross between the Royal Gala and Braeburn apples and originated in New Zealand. They have a red and yellow striated appearance with a sweet flavor and low acidity. The flesh is juicy and is great to eat fresh or julienned in salads. This variety can be best described as fresh with a classic apple taste.
Best For: Great for snacking and mixed into salads — such as chicken salads or a classic Waldorf. Sliced Envy apples don't oxidize as quickly and will stay fresh up to 10 hours before they start to brown. Also great for baking.
Golden Delicious Apples
Golden Delicious apples have a light green to yellow skin and have a sweet flavor and more tender texture, making these great apples for apple sauce or apple butter. Important to note that despite the name, Golden and Red Delicious apples are not closely related. This variety is sweet and candy-like with a flavor reminiscent a jolly rancher and has been around for as long as I can remember.
Best For: While good for snacking, this variety is much better for cooking, and sauce. Try them for homemade apple sauce or apple butter.
Pink Lady Apples
One of the few apple varieties that has a vibrant, naturally pink color, Pink Ladies are a variant on the Golden Delicious apple and have a similar flavor profile despite a drastically different appearance and texture.
The Pink Lady is sweet, crisp, dense and very juicy. Its bite and dense flesh make it perfect for baked apple recipes. Some note it has a subtle floral flavor.
Best For: This apple is great for baking, pies, and eating fresh. Pair with cheese for a tasty and light week-night snack or dinner party appetizer. And, these apples are dense enough to hold their shape when cooked or baked which make them a great all-purpose apple to have on hand.
Granny Smith Apples
Granny Smith apples have a bright green, thick skin and a distinctly sour taste that has been popular with bakers for decades. This apple's acidity is nice and bright to hold up to the addition of sugar and is great in pies and cakes.
The Granny Smith is also a popular go-to apple for snacking. The sour, tart flavor of this type of apple balances well with peanut butter for a protein and fiber-rich snack.
Best For: These tart apples hold up well in pies, cakes, turkey stuffing, and other savory dishes. Because they are dense, they hold their shape well when cooked or baked. Think whole apple dumplings! Great for snacking, salads, baking, cooking and sauce; you really can't go wrong with a Granny Smith apple!
Honeycrisp Apples (my personal favorite!)
I saved my favorite apple variety for last. Honeycrisp apples have the juiciest sweet flesh and a big crisp crunch. Why else would they be called, Honeycrisps? This popular apple features a beautiful bright red skin mottled with pale green to yellow streaks. Its complex flavor is subtly tart, and it is a versatile ingredient for recipes ranging from sweet to savory.
Best for: Whether sliced for a snack, slathered with peanut butter, featured alongside your favorite savory cheeses, or julienned atop a leafy green salad, this variety shines when eaten fresh. But Honeycrisps are an equally delicious addition to sauces, baked goods and pie (if you adjust the amount of sugar you add to the filling).
Useful Apple Prep Kitchen Tools and Gadgets.
Whatever apple variety you choose and however you plan to eat them, there is a capable tool to make the job easier and faster so you can make the most of your harvest.
A sturdy handheld apple corer is a great gadget that should be in every kitchen. OXO has two versions we recommend, the Good Grips Apple Corer and the Quick-Release Apple Corer. Both do a fantastic job of removing the core and seeds cleanly and quickly.
If you want a hand-help tool that slices, as well as cores then the Apple Corer & Slicer is what you need. If you routinely work with big apples up to 4.5” inches in diameter, the Jumbo Apple Corer & Slicer works best. If you like thinner slices of apple Progressive’s Thin Apple Slicer & Corer is the choice for you.
If you’ve got a bushel of apples to prep and no time to spare an apple peeling machine would be a better bet. Unlike its smaller cousins it peels the apple while it cores and slices. We carry two styles, the old-school Apple Peeling Machine that features suction cups to keep it firmly on your work surface.
If you’ve got a bushel of apples to prep and no time to spare an apple peeling machine would be a better bet. Unlike its smaller cousins it peels the apple while it cores and slices. We carry two styles, the old-school Apple Peeling Machine that features suction cups to keep it firmly on your work surface. If you're looking for a more modern take, PL8’s Apple Machine is worth a closer look. It's smart, tilted base with silicone-wrapped feet provide excellent stability. Both are worthy of the cupboard space for anyone who bakes or cooks with apples.
What are you waiting for? Go buy a bushel of fresh-picked apples today!
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