VarietyKDCoCiComments Arkansas BlackXXPfirm, fine-grained, moderately juicyAshmead’s Kernel×XXXrusset skin, very firm dense fleshAshton Brown JerseyXbittersweet; produces high quality juice and full-bodied medium bittersweet ciderBaldwinXPXformer commercial, replaced by McIntosh; high sugar levels; good for pie when slightly on the green sideBraeburn×XXPtangy-sweet, very firm and hard, also for baked apples Bradley’s Seedling’S, Classic culinary apple in England, excellent high-acid cooking typeBulmer’s Norman×Xproduces sweet, astringent, fast-fermenting juice and mildly bittersweet ciderCalville Blanc d’HiverXPXclassic dessert apple of France, very high in vitamin C, tart, juicyChisel Jersey×Xproduces bittersweet, astringent juice and a full bittersweet cider. The term ‘Jersey’ denotes a bitter apple. Cortland, Redcort×XS, PX flavor between sweet & acid, fruit very juicy, good for salads as it discolors very slowly after being cut.
Redcoat is a redder colored sport. Cox’s Orange Pippin×XPXclassic English dessert apple; pear-like aroma when baked, high in vitamin CElstar×XS, PON the tart side when picked, flavor mellows after storage; also very good for baking wholeEmpire×XXS, PX flesh white, sweet, crisp, juicy & firmEsopus Spitzenberg×XXS, Plate ripening, very firm crisp fleshFoxwhelp×Xbittersharp, produces aromatic, musky flavored ciderFujiXXSsweet, firm flesh (western WA plant early clones like Ben Shogun, Jubilee)GalaXXsmall, with rich sweet flavor, very juicy, dries well Golden Delicious XS, PX crisp, juicy flesh, especially good for pies or baking whole; some say the best flavor develops in cooking Golden Russet×XS, PX russet skin, sweet, crisp, fine textured flesh, dries wellGranny Smiths, Very late ripening, hard, firm, tart; develops mellow flavor when fully ripe after storageGravenstein×XSXtop rated for sauce; thin-skinned, juicy, sweet, not recommended for pie; short storage only Grimes GoldenXSXvery high sugar contentHyslop CrabXXtoo astringent for fresh eating, excellent for jelly, pickling, cider blending; dries out quickly so use immediatelyIdared×XPhighly aromatic, slightly tart, juicy; thick skinJonagold×XP, Very good balanced sweet-tart flavor, large fruit, holds up well in baking wholeJonathanXPXbestseller in early 1900s; small, slightly tart Lady (Somme d’API)XX very small and colorful, sometimes used in swags and decoration, tender, crisp, juicy fleshMcIntosh×XSXimportant commercial apple in eastern U.S.; highly aromatic, spicy, does not keep wellMichelin×Xmedium bittersweet, produces sweet, mildly astringent juice and medium bittersweet ciderMutsuXXSXcommercial name Crispin; firm, crisp, sweet-tart at harvest, very sweet after storageNewtown Pippin (Albemarle Pippin)XES, PX crisp, tender, sweet-tart flesh; very good for pies, not for salad as it browns quicklyNonpareilXXsweet-tart flesh; makes a good cider by itselfNorthern SpyXPXjuicy flesh high in vitamin C, blends with crab apples for cider; may be late to start bearing Northwest Greening×XP, Flesh firm, tart, juicy; tough skinPitmaston PineappleXvery old russet variety, small and very sweet; flavor sometimes likened to pineapple DeliciousXpopular commercial market apple, can reach very good quality if properly harvested & stored Rhode Island Greening×XXPone of the best for pies, tart greenish flesh also dries well Rome BeautySXcrisp, tart flesh, very thick skin, excellent for baking whole, holds shape & has marvelous texture; not recommended for Roxbury Russet×XXSXold russet variety, U.S. origin; very high sugar content, medium-acid fruit yields fine clear cider with aromatic flavor and 6% alcohol Smith’s CiderXorigin Bucks Co., PA; still cultivated for ciderSpartan×XXMcIntosh cross, very flavorful, firm white fleshStayman Winesap XS, PX seedling of Winesap, juicy, firm flesh; in the 1900s it was a commercial apple in eastern U.S. Swaar*XX late ripening, flesh very dense, firm, high sugar and acid, mellows in storage; hangs till winter on tree Sweet Coppin×Xlow tannin apple from Devon, produces a sweet juice with no astringency and a sweet to mildly bittersweet cider Virginia (Here’s) Carminative North American crab; juice ferments very slowly for highly flavored dry ciderWinesapXS, PX important in early NJ cider industry; very juicy flesh, vinous strongly sweet-sour flavor, best blended in cider with bland, sweet varieties; good when baked wholeYarlington Mill×Xvintage English cider apple known for high yields, produces sweet, slightly astringent juice and a medium bittersweet cider York Imperials, Originated near York, PA and characterized by its “imperial” keeping quality. Often, this is the result of the baker using a soft apple variety that doesn’t hold up in the oven.
Amy Traverse, expert and author of the award-winning The Apple Lover’s Cookbook (revised and updated for 2020! Note that some familiar apple varieties may be missing because they are best eaten fresh.
If you have apple varieties of your region that aren’t listed here, please comment below and let us know what you prefer to use! Name Best UsesFlavor Characteristics, Appearance Firm-Tart Arkansas Blackmail favorite of many Southern cooks, with deep red skin that turns purple-black in storage.
Aromatic, crisp, with a cherry-spice finish. Calville Blanc d’Diverse, Tarts French apple that dates back to the 16th century, it is the classic variety used in taste Latin. Available in supermarkets everywhere. Newton PippinPieSweet-tart flesh, crisp, greenish-yellow skinNorthern SpyPieOur favorite apple variety for pie-makingRhode Island Greening Very tart, distinctively flavored, grass-green skin, tending toward yellow/orangeRoxbury RussetPieAmerica’s oldest apple, it’s heavily gusseted and tastes like honeyed lemonade.
Firm-Sweet BaldwinPieA New England favorite, this fruit is prized for both cooking and cider. Great for pie and light baking. Golden DeliciousPieFairly mild variety but easily found.
Tastes best when paired with bolder apples. GravensteinPieA California favorite, the Graven stein ripens early. Doesn’t brown quickly when sliced. JazzPie, Raw snacksExceptional taste and found in supermarkets year-round. JonagoldPieYellow top, red bottom.
Cross between the Jonathan and Golden Delicious and could fill a pie on its own. Pink Ladylike, Baking, SnackingBalance of sweet and sour undertones and widely available in supermarkets any time of the year. York Paid great all-purpose apple popular in the mid-Atlantic region. Softer apples tend to work best for sauces as well as baking dishes that cook quickly, like muffins.
Name Best UsesFlavor Characteristics, AppearanceCortlandApplesauceTender-sweet, these large purple-red apples with yellow streaks red-blushed apples are moderately juicy and fairly sweet compared to McIntosh. MacounApplesauceStriated green and red color, these tender apples have snow-white flesh and a sweet tart flavor with a hint of strawberry and spice. EmpireApplesauce, Fruit Salad Doesn’t brown quickly when sliced Cox’s Orange PippinApplesauceLightly red-striped with an orange huge, this medium-sized apple has a spicy or nutty fragrance. DaveyApplesauceRed with some light yellow striping and small dots, this Mac-type apple is sweet-tart, very juicy, and crunchy. JonathanApplesauceTart flesh, crisp, juicy, bright red on yellow skinMcIntoshApplesauceJuicy, sweet, pinkish-white flesh with two-toned red and green skin. Tender and sweet, great for sauces, with a wine-like flavor. NameBest UsesFlavor Characteristics, AppearanceBaldwinCiderCrimson red with coppery green skin, Baldwin’s cream-white flesh is crisp and juicy with a spicy, sweet-tart flavor that’s great for cider. GravensteinCiderHeirloom apple with a thin skin and a juicy, sweet flavorEsopus SpizenburgCiderMcIntoshCiderJuicy, sweet, pinkish-white flesh with two-toned red and green skin.
If you want straight-up good of’, classic apple pie, then this is the one that mom used to make! Our homemade Cinnamon Applesauce can be eaten straight from the jar or paired with grilled pork chops or potato pancakes.
The pandemic has pushed us indoors where we wrestle with our thoughts, work remotely, and take on any number of hobbies. Pairing baking and apples can yield incredible pies, delicious breakfast pastries, cobblers, fritters, savory tarts, chicken dishes, stuffing for your holiday turkey, and more.
More and more varieties are coming online, prized for their unique flavors, textures, and ability to handle the oven. So scoot past the Red and Golden Delicious piles and look for these great apples the next time you throw the apron on.
Shari's Berries/Flickr The undeniable champion especially when working with desserts, the Granny Smith apple brings tremendous crispness and zip to the table. The tart nature of the fruit beautifully offsets the sweetness inherent to things like pie, scones, even donuts.
And the firmness of the apple stands up to the abuse of cooking quite well, meaning you don’t have to worry much about the integrity of your fruit. These apples are tasty on their own and perhaps the most versatile when it comes to baking, great in everything from chicken pot pies to muffins.
Apples, the Sweeping is extra crunchy, with a hint of brassiness and spice to accompany a bit of both sweetness and tartness. Its flavor profile does especially well with any baking that involves some cinnamon, or other thawing spices like clove or cardamom.
They’re not nearly as firm as the rest of this pack, so a Cameo is best used for backing things where shape doesn’t really matter. 3 pounds mixed apples, (Jamie likes Bradley, we suggest Granny Smith) 2/3 cups golden caster sugar 1 lemon 2 oz.
Rub together with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs, then scrunch in the remaining sugar to add a little texture. Club varieties are designated below with a company logo in the bottom corner of the photo.
Product of Washington State University apple breeding program. Envy was born by crossing the Brae burn with the Royal Gala apple varieties.
Uses: Snacking, Salads, Baking, Beverages, Pies, Sauce, Freezing Very exotic, with a juicy super sweet taste, attractive striped ruby-red coloration.
Originating in Italy, it’s quickly becoming a sweet apple lover’s favorite. Naturally pollinated cross between Fuji and Brae burn that was discovered in New Zealand.
The Smitten™ is a unique mix of the Gala, Brae burn, Falstaff and Fiesta varieties. It has a full, sweet flavor with plenty of juiciness and crunch.
It also must have a balance of tart and sweet, a complex yet bright taste, and most importantly, maintain a good “apply” flavor. I tested a variety of cultivars available at my local Whole Foods, all organic, some familiar types and others more unusual.
I decided to use frozen pastry from Trader Joe's, which comes in discs rather than aluminum pie tins. But most importantly, the Trader Joe's pastry is made with real butter and, I'll admit, is delicious.
The Runners-Up Golden Delicious Commonly referred to as a good baking apple, and easily located in your average grocery store. Before Baking : Soft and sweet, a pleasant taste but a rather mealy texture.
Donald A less common variety, which is actually a hybrid of Golden Delicious and the more acidic Jonathon. It scored a little higher than Golden Delicious on pure apple flavor, and its texture was fabulous, stood but firm enough.
Honey crisp Developed in the early 1970s at the University of Minnesota, this has since become extremely popular. After Baking : Complex and subtle, this apple scored huge on the flavor scale.
Slightly more tart than sweet, but very well-balanced, the texture was also outstanding: not broken down, but gently yielding. For the person with more love of balance than sweetness, who doesn't mind gentle tartness, this is a remarkable baking apple.
It scored the highest of all the apples on the “apply” scale and had the same outstanding texture of the russet: firm, yet just soft enough to have relinquished itself to the pie. Gala Like the Donald, this apple descends from the Golden Delicious variety, this time crossed with Kidd's Orange Red.
In both cases, it was mostly a texture issue, and for opposite reasons: While the Red Delicious baked into a mushy, overly-sweet mess, the Fuji was far too firm and didn't create the yielding filling everyone wants in a pie. Neither the Red Delicious nor the Fuji had an overwhelmingly good apple flavor, either.
All three winners excelled in the texture department and had good honest apple flavor. This experiment could hardly be called conclusive since there are so many more apple varieties to try that (for example, this survey left out Granny Smith apples, which are very tart and supposedly excellent for baking), but I feel that some good work was done nonetheless.
If I were to make an apple pie tomorrow, I would go straight back to Russets and Orin's, using both in a single pie to bring both the tart and sweet into a single batch (I'm a big believer in hybrid vigor). But if my options were more limited, and I only had one choice, the Gala is a very respectable baking apple.