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Apple Buyer's Guide

How to choose the best apples for cooking and eating.

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Golden Delicious: This golden orb has creamy, firm yellow flesh and lightly speckled skin. The flavor is absolutely sweet and mellow, making it a versatile cooking apple. It holds its shape well when baked, but take care when storing and handling—the skin bruises easily.

Granny Smith: Lime-green speckled skin that resists bruising and very firm, crisp flesh characterize this popular apple. Its sharp, tart flavor holds up well in recipes with spicy notes, and the flesh is firm enough to retain its shape when cooked.

Honeycrisp: What’s in a name? This one says it all. This apple has exceptionally crisp, juicy, sweet-as-honey flesh with just a hint of tartness that makes it a tasty treat any time of the day. You can also use this apple for baking (if you can resist eating them all!). Pale yellow flesh is surrounded by mottled red-and-gold skin.

Idared: This rosy, brightly colored apple is a cross between two New York cultivars, Jonathan and Wagener. The firm, tart flesh ranges from yellowish-green to faintly pink, and holds its shape well during baking. With its well-developed aromatics, this fruit contributes a strong apple flavor. Cook with the skin on and then strain to make a beautiful pink applesauce.

Jonagold: A cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious, this bumpy, stripy fruit isn’t super fragrant but tends to rank very high in taste tests. The skin is gold with orange-blush stripes, surrounding a creamy, pale yellow flesh with a juicy, crisp texture that shares the shape-holding characteristics of its parents. This fruit is sweet with a nice balance of tart.

Jonathan: Sporting a bright, sweetly tart flavor, this red-striped greenish-yellow fruit boasts a smooth, tough skin and firm flesh that retains its shape well during cooking. This New York native apple doesn’t store as well as other varieties, so use it within a few weeks of purchasing.

Macoun: A crossbreed of the McIntosh and Jersey Black cultivars, the Macoun apple is regarded as one of the best all-purpose cooking apples around. This dark red fruit with creamy white flesh is soft, tender and perfect for sauce. It has a sweet, rich apple flavor with hints of berry.

McIntosh: This apple has been loved since John McIntosh discovered seedlings in Ontario in 1811. The tender white flesh is crisp when freshly harvested, but soon adopts a softer consistency, making it perfect for cooking into pies or sauce. Macs are sweet and juicy with a pleasant tanginess.

Mutsu: The Mutsu apple, also called Crispin, is a large, yellowish-green fruit with an orange blush and juicy, tender-crisp, coarse-grained flesh. This cross between Golden Delicious and the Japanese Indo has a complex, spicy-sweet flavor reminiscent of anise and is great for eating or baking.

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