Apples for many uses

There are hundreds of apple varieties grown in the United States, offering differences in flavor and texture that span the gamut from sweet to sour, and hard to soft. Because of these differences, some apples are better for cooking and some for fresh use. Here are some guidelines for choosing apples that suit your uses.

For fresh eating and crisp apple salads, it’s hard to beat Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala, Liberty, Jonagold and Honeycrisp apples. Red Delicious is probably the best known apple in the country. Its dark red skin is classic and its creamy aromatic flesh is sweet, crisp and flavorful. Golden Delicious is a long time favorite for its sweetness and flavor. The flesh is firm, crisp and juicy. Delicious apples live up to their name when home-grown!

Fuji apples are sweet, very crisp and flavorful. Gala apples have a nice blend of sweetness and tartness with a rich flavor, and an attractive yellow skin airbrushed with red. Liberty has a well-balanced sweet-tart flavor with an attractive red skin, and is disease-resistant.

Jonagold has “superb flavor” according to connoisseurs. It is a cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious, yellow with a red-orange blush, and is crisp and juicy with a sweet-tart flavor. Honeycrisp is a delicious new apple that some say is “explosively crisp” and honey sweet with a touch of tartness. It is excellent for fresh eating and salads. Fuji, Liberty and Red Delicious have the added advantage of not browning easily.

When it comes to apple pie, we look for an apple with quite a bit of tartness that will hold up during baking and not turn to mush. Some good choices are Empire, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Rome Beauty and Jonagold.

Granny Smith is a pie favorite. It is quite tart but makes an apple pie reminiscent of Colonial days, and retains some tartness even with added sugar. Empire has crisp white flesh and a sprightly flavor that is slightly tart and becomes sweeter as the days get colder.

Pink Lady is very crisp with a good sweet-tart combination. A little cinnamon, lemon, and brown sugar is all you need to enhance their naturally good flavor. Jonagold is a sweeter apple that makes a very flavorful pie.

Cox’s Orange Pippin, Britain’s most popular apple, has a rich, complex flavor that is not as sharp as Newton Pippin and makes excellent pies. Rome Beauty tastes somewhat bland when eaten raw, however when cooked its flavor is enhanced. It makes a good pie or cobbler because it holds its texture and shape when baked. Remember, you can always mix two or more varieties together to make a delicious and unique apple pie.

Softer apples are best for applesauce, and it’s hard to beat Gravenstein. This late summer apple has a rich flavor that makes delicious sauce. It is juicy and sweet with enough tartness to make it interesting. It is not a keeper but this is a wonderful way to preserve the bushels of fruit that the large tree produces. Golden Delicious is used to make unsweetened applesauce, because its sweet flavor doesn’t need sweetening.

Granny Smith is a rather tart apple but it makes very good sauce. Braeburn makes a great, “sweet-tart” sauce with no added sweetening. Empire, Fuji and Jonagold also make good applesauce.

Baking apples are those that are baked whole, as in dumplings. These apples have some tartness so that the flavor doesn’t get lost and they hold their shape well. Rome Beauty is probably the best for baking, but Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Granny Smith and Jonagold are also very good.

Apple juice or cider can be made from many apples but some particularly good varieties are Empire, Golden Delicious, Gravenstein, Jonagold, Waltana and Hudson’s Golden Gem. Golden Delicious and Jonagold are probably the most used for commercial juice, but you can find your own favorites by trying some other varieties.

Waltana is a late apple that is crisp, firm and juicy. It makes a fine cider. Hudson’s Golden Gem is a russeted apple. It has crisp, sugary, juicy flesh with flavor described as nutty by some, pear-like by others. It makes excellent cider.

Apple trees can be planted now or during bare-root season beginning in January. It may be good idea to order unusual varieties ahead for bare-root planting.

Enliven your taste buds with a variety of apples for every use in the kitchen.

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