Janet Hackert, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, wrote that apples are one of the more common fruits and there are lots of varieties to choose from. As we enter the height of the apple harvest, knowing how to select the best apple for the preparation or eating method can make all the difference. Here are some suggestions from The Visual Food Encyclopedia.
For eating out of hand, select a firm, juicy, tasty, crisp apple. Many varieties make good eating apples, raw and as is.
Pies do best with a drier, slightly acid apple and one that does not disintegrate when heated. Braeburn, Cameo, Cortland, Fuji, Golden Delicious, and Jonagold are good pie varieties. Granny Smith apples are sometimes called for by name in recipes because of their tartness, perfect for a culinary delight.
For oven baking, choose a sweet apple, but one that retains its shape. Cameo, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, and Pink Lady apples work well for this.
Some apples retain their color better than others. These are preferred varieties for eating fresh and for making into applesauce. Some varieties that work well for sauce include Braeburn, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, and Jonagold. Golden Delicious apples make a tasty applesauce, but because they tend to hold their shape when heated, they would work better for stewed apples.
When making juice or cider, a mix of varieties is recommended. The blend brings out the sweetness of some and the tartness of others, making for a rich flavor.
Notably missing in these lists is the Red Delicious. Though just right for eating raw – by themselves, with cheese or peanut butter, or cut in a salad – they do not hold up to heat well.
Selecting the Right Apple by Janet Hackert on MissouriFamilies