An undeniable shift in the weather excites even warm-loving snow birds in anticipation of their favorite flavors of the season. As pumpkins ripen on their vine, apples hang heavy in rows and rows of you-pick orchards. With more than 7,500 varieties of apples grown across the globe3 today, it’s easy to make finding your favorite apple into the sport of the season.
The first settlers in America were not so lucky as to pluck a Gala or Red Delicious from the trees. In the 1500s, European settlers brought their favorite apple varieties with them, much preferred over the native crab apples.2 Even so, the first varieties of apples cultivated in America were fairly bitter. Their main purpose was not to eat fresh, but to create fermented cider – often served as an alternative to water to avoid sanitation concerns.1
By the 1850s, 600 varieties of apples had been recorded (most of which were native to America) thanks to the popularity of seedling orchards.2 Now, about 7,500 apple producers found in every state across the US grow around 48,000 tons of apples each year!1
The health benefits of eating apples are well-known. The fruit is a rich source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals – which may help you stave off diabetes, Alzheimer’s, tooth decay and more.1 It’s easy to eat “an apple a day” when they can be used to make everything from sweet and tangy desserts to savory sauces. But when choosing an apple to cook or eat, its variety can make all the difference.
Fuji apples are extra sweet and juicy. This variety ripens in October.
McIntosh apples are smooth and rich in texture. Their soft skin results in pink applesauce.
Honeycrisp apples are extra juicy, with a mild, sweet flavor and a hint of tart.
Gala apples are small, thin skinned, with a mild flavor.
Red Delicious are sweet and crunchy.
Granny Smith apples’ firm flesh holds up in cooking.
Calville Rough d’Automne holds its shape well in baking.
Rome Beauty has a high phenolic-acid content. This variety works well for applesauce.
Braeburn and Gold Rush apples are longer lasting. They can keep for 4-6 months.
Arkansas Black has a noteworthy aroma. This variety is too hard for sauce or eating fresh.
Bulmers Norman apples are grown for cider. They have a distinctive, bittersweet taste.
Cortland apples are mostly sweet and slightly tart. They take longer to turn brown when cut up.4
(1)Synan, Mariel. “All About Apples.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 13 Sept. 2013.
(2)“History And Folklore.” U.S. Apple Association.
(3)Elliott, Sara. “5 Autumn Apples.” HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 18 Aug. 2009.
(4)“Apples to Apples: What Variety Is Best for What?” HowStuffWorks, 11 Oct. 2010.