Kitchen Concoctions: A Guide to Apple Varieties

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Guide to Apple Varieties

A reoccurring question that pops up with some freelance work I do, as well from 'real life' friends and family (since I am their 'go-to' when it comes to cooking), is what type of ‘blank’ (onion, potato, apple, etc.) to use if the recipe doesn’t verify a specific variety.

I thought it would be useful to compile a reference guide to some of these fruits and veggies that have different varieties and offer not only visual references but as well as what the different varieties taste like, the best cooking technique for each one, and a fun fact or two.

I have several of these guides/articles already written or in the works but I thought I would first start with apples since it is apple week! Below are some of the most common varieties of apples and a little information about each one. If you are looking for additional general information about apples (like proper storage tips, nutritional information, etc.) check out this article that I wrote last year as part of apple week.

A Guide to Apple Varieties:

Granny Smith Apples: A crisp, tart apple with a slightly waxy green freckled skin; with flesh that is firm and white in color. Granny smith apples originated in Australia and are now grown in the US in California and Arizona. They are best eaten raw, as a snack or added to salads, or can be baked into pies and cooked in sauces.

Red Delicious Apples: Medium sized, bright red apple with an elongated shape with distinct knob like features on the bottom. These apples are most popular and are grown worldwide. Red delicious apples are juicy yet mildly sweet and can sometimes have a slight mealy texture. Due to their thick skin they are best eaten raw and are not recommended for cooking.

Jazz Apples: Is a variety of apple originating from New Zealand that is now grown in France, Washington and Chile. Jazz apples are a cross between Gala and Braeburn apples and are red in color with yellow hues. They have a crunchy texture with a sweet and tangy flavor. Jazz apples can be enjoyed raw, baked in muffins, or cooked into applesauce.

Tentation Apples: Originating in France, this apple is a cross between Golden Delicious apples and Grifer apples. Tentation apples have a golden yellow color with pink-orange hues. These apples have a distinct flavor being both sweet and tangy. It is juicy and firm in texture. Tentation apples are good for eating raw and hold their shape and flavor during cooking and baking.

Gala Apples: Originating from New Zealand, these apples have a bright red skin with hints of yellow coloring. Gala apples are medium in size and have a thin skin. Their mild sweet flavor and juicy, yet crisp flesh, makes them perfect for snacking or cooking in pies.

McIntosh Apples: A medium-sized, dark red apple with shades of green; McIntosh apples are sweet with a slight tang. Because of their tender flesh, McIntosh apples will cook down quickly and are ideal for making applesauce.

Fuji Apples: Originating from Japan, this medium-large apple is light-green to red in color and is sweet in flavor, making it ideal for applesauce and pie baking.

Pink Lady Apples: Reddish pink in color, this apple is a cross between Golden Delicious and Lady Williams apples. Pink Lady apples have a sweet-tart flavor and take a longer period of time to turn brown after slicing, making them ideal for garnishes or salads.

Envy Apples: Originating in New Zealand, this apple is a cross between Braeburn and Gala apples. Envy apples have deep red skin with bright white flesh. It is crisp in texture and sweet in flavor.

Honeycrisp Apples: Large apples that are bright green and red in color. They are crisp and juicy, and have a sweet, honey-like flavor. They are a flavorful, crunchy snack eaten raw, or can be cooked and baked.

Golden Delicious Apples: Yellowish-green in color, this apple is firm and crisp in texture but lacks on flavor. This mild apple does not hold well to cooking, as they lose even more flavor when cooked.

Braeburn Apples: Firm and juicy, with a crisper texture than other apple varieties; this apple has a sweet and tangy flavor. Braeburn apples are popular choices for snacking, cooking, and baking.

These are just a *few* popular apples available this fall at local grocery stores and markets, however there are hundreds of apple varieties found world-wide. What is your favorite?


  1. Oh, apples, how I love them. I've had trouble finding good apples for pies down here in TX. In Maine, I'd use a combination of Macs and Cortlands, but Corts are hard to find here and Macs by themselves are tasty, but applesaucy in texture. I haven't had luck with Granny Smiths- I find that they tend to get rather leathery in texture when baked. What do you use in pies?

  2. @Sharon- I have actually had good luck with Granny Smith apples in pie. I do chop them into small/medium chunks (I have never cooked them in a pie in slices) and they have worked fine for me. In fact, one of my favorite apple pie recipes (that I'll have to share the recipe soon) uses all Granny Smith apples. Other apples I have had luck with baking in pies are Braeburn and Fuji apples. Besides chopping your apples into a small/medium dice for pie try a mix of apples to get a balance of flavors and textures.

  3. They look so pretty all lined up in the photos. Great to see all the varieties!


Related Posts with Thumbnails