I used to be so clueless when picking apples at the grocery store, but over the years I’ve grown to know our tastes better and become less hesitant to ask my produce guys about different varieties. Particularly if you shop occasionally at a fine foods grocery store, they’ll be happy to tell you all about different varieties and even cut some for you to try. Farmers’ markets as well. Nonetheless, this little guide should take a bit of the mystery out of apple shopping. :)
Honeycrisp – My favorite variety! They have a relatively short season, and I look forward to them every fall. (I had my first sighting of the season the other day, at Target!) They are crisp, sweet, and juicy. Their crispness makes them great for raw preparations, but they also maintain their sweetness when cooked. The skin is yellow covered in red or pink flush.
Ambrosia – Another variety I keep an eye out for in the fall. Sweet, with little to no acidity—similar in flavor to Golden Delicious. Medium sized with orange/red flush over a yellow background. Crisp texture, though not as crisp as a Braeburn or Jazz. Crispness fades quickly at room temperature, so store in fridge.
Braeburn – One of the most crisp apple varieties. Juicy. Sweet-tart in flavor, which makes it great for salads, paid with mild cheese. It also maintains its shape when cooked. Red skin with green under-piping.
Gala – Crisp (but not super crisp), juicy, sweet but fairly mild. Bright yellow skin airbrushed with red striping. Often small in size.
Golden Delicious – Sweet/bland flavor. Juicy, crisp flesh that resists browning. Best eaten raw, because they lose some flavor when cooked.
Red Delicious – The quintessential apple based on appearance. Medium sized with a tall, conical shape. Crimson red. Sweet but very mild in flavor. Some say they barely have a flavor at all! Tough skin. As far as texture goes, they’re on the soft side, which makes them not ideal for cooking.
Granny Smith – The queen of tart! Juicy, crisp, and tangy, with green speckled skin. Great raw and in pies! Available year-round.
McIntosh – Tart-sweet, also described as “generally sweet but with refreshing acidity, usually with a hint of wine—often referred to as ‘vinous.’” (source) Crimson skin sometimes tinged with green, with very white flesh. They don’t hold up well to long cooking times.
Pippin – Crisp and slightly tart. All purpose, so it’s good for hand-eating and cooking. Yellowish green. They come on late in the season, usually winter through mid-spring.
Jonathan – Spicy and fragrant, also described as having a good sweet/sharp balance. Good for cooking but not whole.
Fuji – Aromatic and spicy. Sweet and crisp. Pink speckled flush over a yellow-green background. This is my go-to apple yearround.
If you’re curious about an apple I didn’t include, check here for a very thorough (almost scientific!) compilation. And feel free to pin this post for future reference! Now tell us – What varieties do you buy the most?
All linked up with Grace at Home.