I eat an apple almost every day. Yet I realized how little I know about the different apple varieties and the best way to enjoy them.
After a little research here is what I learned about apples. According to Foodland Ontario the most popular apple varieties are the following - the taste profile for each variety was published by the Ontario Apple Growers.
McIntosh – mildly tart, juicy but sweetens as it ripens
Red Delicious – sweet and crisp
Empire – slightly tart, juicy and crisp
Idared – tart and keeps flavour when baked
Crispin (Mutsu) – sweet and firm
Golden Delicious – sweet mellow and crisp
Spartan – slightly tart and crisp
Cortland – mild, sweet and crisp
Northern Spy – sweet and crisp
There are about 7500 different varieties grown around the world and about 20 grown in Ontario.
Apples can range in colour from red, yellow and green and in taste from sweet to tart and texture from soft to crisp.
Apple season begins in late August or early September and lasts through November. Because apples keep well in cold storage, they are available year-round. Choose apples that are heavy for their size and feel firm when pressed gently. Avoid bruised fruit because these apples give off ethylene gas which will cause other apples to spoil.
The best way to use each apple is a bit tricky because each source I looked at made slightly different recommendations.
Most apples are a good all-around apple – meaning they are recommended for eating fresh and baking with or for making apple sauce.
Cortland and Northern Spy are only recommended for baking with or making apple sauce. While Red Delicious and my two favourite apples Gala and Honey Crisp are only recommended for eating fresh.
Most apple websites recommend trying a mixture of apples in a single recipe. Experiment with different varieties in different types of recipes to find your favourite – then let us know!