Apples have numerous health benefits; They contain pectin, a natural soluble fiber that aids digestion and may help reduce cancer and heart disease. Pection also cuts down on the amount of fat your body cells absorb. How cool is THAT? This crisp, juicy fruit is irresistible-and always evolving as enticing new varieties keep arriving on the market. But the classic favorites are still holding their own, as popular as ever (Overall, there’s over 2,000 types!).
Here’s a few “picks”:
Rome Beauty-This apple’s named for Rome Township, Ohio, where the first sapling was found. These mildly sweet apples are popular for baking because of the deep flavor they develop when they’re cooking. Available October-December
Pink Lady-The firm and tangy flesh (with a “blushing” appearance) holds its flavor and shape while baking, which makes this a great choice for those who like a tart flavor (with a sweet aftertaste!). This is also the last apple to be harvested, so it’s a good type to look for during the colder months. Available October-July
Winesap-They’re plum-colored and prized by cider makers for their rich, spicy taste and smooth texture. They’re also good for applesauce and apple butter. Did you know that this variety dates back before 1800? Available November-December
Criterion-Golden with a pale pink (or rosy) blush, the Criterion’s sweet and juicy with a honey-like flavor. It’s also ideal to use in salads and fruit platters (the flesh doesn’t brown after it’s cut). It’s good for baking, particularly for breads, muffins or pastries. Available October-July
Granny Smith-A great choice for a pie that will come out firm-never mushy (this apple holds its shape and resists browning). And it’s the perfect apple for mixing into breads, cakes, muffins or pastries. The tangy flavor is also a good choice for making cider. You can eat a Granny Smith as is (it’s delicious cut into wedges and served with other fresh fruits or cheese), but your lips may pucker a little! This apple originated in Australia and New Zealand.
Golden Delicious-This yellow variety bakes beautifully and freezes very well, so if you’re craving apple pie in January or February…! With a sweet mellow flavor, the golden is also great in a salad.
Royal Gala-They’re orangey-yellow, covered with red stripes, or have golden stripes across a red coat. Galas are great for baking (not too sweet, they’re crisp and hold their shape well) and for cider, salads and eating as is.
Braeburn-Originating in New Zealand in the 1980s, this crisp, juicy, medium-sized variety has a sweet and spicy flavor. The appearance varies in shades of crimson over a golden background; they can be green-gold with a light blush or solid red. An all-purpose variety, the Braeburn’s firm texture is great for baking in a pie and making caramel apples. They can also be used for juice, sauce, or diced and mixed with walnuts in a creamy chicken salad, or eaten as is. Available October-July
Cameo-Very distinctive by their yellow skin with red stripes and a heart shape, they’re one of the newest arrivals on the apple scene. They’re sweet, fragrant and fine-grained, great for dips or eating as is. Available October-July
McIntosh-Red and green in appearance, extra juicy with a soft grainy texture and sweet-tart flavor, the Mac breaks down when cooked. But it’s excellent for eating as and is one of the best varieties for making apple butter, applesauce or homemade cider. It’s also perfect in a cobbler or a flaky turnover. These apples are the ones most often used in baby food; Macs require little added sugar and cook down in just a few minutes.
Fuji-Originating from Japan, this apple is reddish-pink, but its color can also vary from yellow-green to very red. It also has a bold, perfumed spicy aroma reminiscent of that country’s trees. It’s one of the few apples whose flavor improves with age. The Fuji has a syrupy sweetness that makes it great for applesauce or eating as is. But they’re too sweet for baking.
Cortland-A close relative of the McIntosh, this red and green apple has a slightly tart flavor that mellows with cooking. This can be used in tarts, cobblers, pies and crisps.
Red Delicious-This is America’s favorite. It’s great for snacking (because it’s crunchy, mildly sweet and very juicy; yes indeed!).
Empire-This perfectly round red apple is very crisp and juicy. It’s good for snacking, but is great for shredding into coleslaw or other salads. Keep the skin on to reap the most nutritional benefits.