There is something about fall that just screams, “give me the best apple you’ve got.” And while you can easily get apples year-round, each apple isn’t suited for every purpose. Did you know that? You might be using the wrong apples in your apple pie.
Take a peak at how Matthew Thompson, Associate Food Editor for EatingWell magazine, breaks down which apples you should be using for baking and cooking, for salads, and for eating whole.
How to pick the perfect apple:
For Baking and Cooking
When it comes to baking, some people are partial to firmer apples that keep their shape in the oven while others prefer a softer apple that breaks down. It’s also important to opt for apples with enough tartness to stand up to the sweetness of your creation. You want an apple pie that tastes like apples, not sugar!
He says: McIntosh and Granny Smith are great for baking. When the softer McIntosh mixes with the more toothsome Granny Smith, presto! You’ve got yourself the perfect apple pie.
Use Granny Smith apples to make this recipe for Baked Apple Chips from Clara Artschwager of The Every Girl.
There are many apple varieties that could taste great in a salad, but if you’re not planning to serve it immediately, you might want to opt for a variety that takes longer to turn brown.
He says: If you want to include fresh apples in a dish but don’t have time to assemble it Ã¡ 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.
Try this Tossed Salad with Apples, Candied Walnuts and Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette from One Perfect Bite.
Of course, the perfect apple for eating is a matter of personal preference, but I thought it might be interesting to take a look at why certain apples seem to get so much love. For instance, the Honeycrisp tends to be almost universally adored while the Red Delicious is a bit more, well, controversial. Why is that? Matthew found that Honeycrisps have cells twice the size of a normal fruit–so, twice as packed with juice–and strong cell walls that shatter rather than fall apart when bitten into. The result? ‘Explosively crisp’ apples. In contrast, Red Delicious have relatively weak cell walls. As a result, if you don’t get a really fresh one, you’re likely to bite into a mealy mess.
He says: Fans of the Honeycrisp might want to try the brand new variety Sweetango. It has Honeycrisp’s signature crunch, but is a bit tarter.
There are so many kinds of apples that it’s impossible to follow one general rule when looking for the right attributes, but there are a few key points to seek out. Choose unbruised apples that feel firm and heavy in your hand. Be sure to look for richly colored fruits with smooth skin. Also, watch out for signs of russeting–that’s those tan or brown streaky, corky marks that sometimes show up on the stem or base end of the apple, caused by excessive wetness or fungus.