Each apple variety has its own unique properties. Sample the range available in your local stores and farmers' markets to discover which ones you like. Following are some of the most popular varieties.
This red-skinned apple with snow-white flesh has a pleasing tartness and a firm texture. It is good for eating out of hand and for adding to fruit salads. Because it breaks down during cooking, it is ideal for applesauce, although it is not as suitable for pies and cobblers.
Red or green-skinned, this juicy apple with a tart-sweet flavor and creamy flesh is a cross between Red Delicious and McIntosh. It is good for applesauce and delicious eaten out of hand.
The Fuji, with its yellowish-green skin and juicy white flesh, has a sweet and slightly spicy flavor. Developed in Japan in the 1960s, this apple is particularly prized for eating out of hand.
Native to New Zealand, the Gala is pleasantly sweet and crisp, with golden skin and a rosy overtone. It is best for eating raw, or for sautéing or slow baking.
Sweet, juicy and mild, this is probably the most widely available apple, good for eating raw, frying and making pies. Its flesh does not darken as readily as that of other apples, and it holds its shape during baking.
Originally from Australia, this bright green apple boasts white, firm, juicy flesh that is sweet and tart at the same time. It is good for eating raw, sautéing and baking.
This large apple, with its streaks of red and green, has a juicy, crisp flesh and a mellow flavor. It is good for eating raw and is suited to a wide variety of cooking methods.
A good-looking red apple with a hint of green, this mildly tart fruit is prized for baking and cooking.
This cross between the Jonathan and the Golden Delicious has red-streaked yellow skin and firm, sweet, juicy white flesh. Use it for eating or cooking.
Most Jonathans are used for baking and cooking, although the golden apples with red stripes and juicy yellow flesh are good eaten raw, too.
This is a fall favorite, with its red skin and crisp, white, juicy flesh. Macs, as they are affectionately known, have flesh that softens when cooked, making good applesauce.
Rhode Island Greening
A lovely green apple with crisp, tart, juicy green-toned flesh, it is excellent for pies and applesauce as well as for eating out of hand.
This large, red apple has sweet-tart, firm flesh and holds its shape when baked, which explains why it is among the most popular apples for filling with sweet or savory stuffings and baking whole.
Sometimes called Stayman Winesap, this dark red apple has firm, crisp flesh and a sweet, winy flavor, characteristics that give it a loyal following among apple aficionados. It is not a good keeper, however, losing its crispness quickly. Its partisans recommend it for eating raw and for cooking.
Mildly tart, this deep red apple with green stripes is a very good baking apple and makes fine applesauce.
Red-blushed with green undertones, this juicy, sweet apple makes wonderful pies and sauces and holds its shape when baked. It is also good for eating raw.
The term "pippin" turns up in a number of apple names, but the best known of them is the Newtown pippin, usually simply called pippin. This all-purpose apple, with its pale green or yellow skin and creamy flesh, has a bright, tart, full flavor and firm texture, making it a favorite in pies.
This popular eating apple looks just the way we all imagine an apple should. Unfortunately, due to overlong storage or supermarkets selling the Red Delicious out of its natural season, many specimens have a mushy and tasteless flesh. Shop for your Red Delicious apples at a farmers' market so you can buy in season and taste before you buy. This apple cooks down well into applesauce but is not recommended for baking or frying.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion: The A to Z Guide to Everyday Cooking, Equipment and Ingredients (Time-Life Books, 2000)