How to choose the best apples for cooking and eating.Sweet, tangy, juicy and flavorful, the apple is nature’s perfect treat, especially when you’re lucky enough to pick them straight off the tree in the fall. Plus, you can feel good about eating them—apples are low in calories and are a good source of fiber, particularly the soluble kind linked with heart health.
Shopping Tip: Choose unbruised apples that feel firm and heavy in your hand. Look for richly colored fruits with smooth skin and no signs of russeting—tan or brown streaky, protruding marks that can be near the stem or base of the apple, caused by excessive wetness or fungus.
Storage Tip: Store apples in the refrigerator. In general, firmer apples like Gala and Fuji last longer (sometimes more than 3 months) than softer-textured cultivars like Macintosh or Golden Delicious (which hold for about 3 weeks).
Cooking Tip: When cooking with apples, texture is just as important as flavor. Some apples cook down to "mush," while others hold their shape after baking. For most apple baked good recipes we like to use a combination of apples for the best texture. For example, the best apple pie filling combines "saucy" apples (varieties such as McIntosh, Cortland, Macoun, Mutsu (Crispin), Paula Red or Empire) and "shapely" apples (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Jonathon, Jonagold, Northern Spy or Ida Red).
See our apple descriptions below to help you find the perfect apple.
Braeburn: These apples have muted greenish-gold to red skin and pale yellow flesh. Fragrant and smooth, these medium-to-large fruits have a well-balanced flavor—sweet with just a hint of tartness.
Cortland: If you want to include fresh apples in a dish but don’t have time to assemble it á la minute, Cortlands are the best bet—they don’t turn brown as quickly as other varieties and the bright red skin and snow-white flesh look striking against a contrasting backdrop. Juicy and mildly tart, this apple softens nicely when cooked, making it as well suited for baking as it is for salad.
Crispin (see Mutsu)
Empire: The delightful child of the McIntosh and Red Delicious varieties retains the sweet-tart flavor of the Mac with a crisper bite and creamier flesh. This shiny red apple with a hint of green is perfect for baking and freezing, but can be eaten out-of-hand just as well. Smaller fruits are perfect for packing in lunchboxes.