Apples for many uses

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016 by Jenny Watts
    • Bare root season is here. Choose and plant your favorite fruit and shade trees now.
    • Start seeds of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other cool season crops indoors for planting outside in March.
    • Fruit trees can be pruned this month. If you’re not sure how, take advantage of one of the fine classes being offered this month.
    • Strawberries can be planted any time now. Get them in early, and you’ll be picking strawberries this summer.
    • Asparagus, whose delectable spears are even sweeter when home-grown, are available now for planting. Prepare a fertile bed for these long-lived vegetables.

Apples for many uses

There are hundreds of apple varieties grown in the United States, representing 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 use and crisp apple salads, it’s hard to beat Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala, Liberty 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.

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. Honeycrisp is a delicious new apple that some say is “explosively crisp” and honey sweet with a touch of tartness. It is excellent for 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 holds its shape well during cooking. Some good choices are Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Braeburn and Rome Beauty. Honeycrisp is firm, juicy and sweet. Pink Lady is very crisp with a good sweet-tart combination. Granny Smith is quite tart but makes an apple pie reminiscent of colonial days, with added sugar. Braeburn is great for baking because it keeps its shape throughout cooking. Rome Beauty is wonderful for baking.

For applesauce, it’s hard to beat Gravenstein. This late summer apple has a rich flavor that makes delicious sauce. 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. Pink Pearl makes beautiful, tasty pink 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 Pink Lady are also very good.

Apple juice or cider can be made from many apples but some particularly good varieties are Gala, Golden Delicious, Gravenstein, Granny Smith and Jonathan. The best juice probably comes from a mixture of different varieties to create a blend. Choose a combination of apples to achieve the sweet/tart flavor you prefer.

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