Apple season is approaching, and that can only mean one thing: Life is about to get crunchier, juicier, and sweeter. Nutritious and portable, apples never get old. Sure, apples are available all year thanks to modern agriculture, but apples and autumn are as destined a match as cider and cinnamon.
Excited? Good. Whether you prefer them sweet or tart, there’s an apple out there for everyone. Learn about the most common and beloved types of apples below, and don’t forget to look at our favorite apple recipes.
Tart, zesty, and big on flavor, the Braeburn apple was first discovered in New Zealand in 1952. Since then, they’ve become wildly popular, especially since their taste perfectly encapsulates the flavors of fall. In the northern hemisphere, Braeburn season lasts from October to April, and they’re practically begging to be included in all your holiday pies.
Envy apples are a child of Braeburn and Royal Gala apples, and were first developed in New Zealand. They’re known for their sweet, almost floral taste and thick red and yellow skin. They’re high in vitamin C, meaning that their flesh stays white and crispy much longer than other apples once they’re cut.
How to use them: Since envy apples are slow to brown, they work great in any dish that shows off apple slices: think salads, pies, or strudel. Thanks to their natural sweetness, they’re also perfect fresh, on their own.
Another hybrid variety, Fuji apples were developed in Japan in the late 1930s (Interestingly enough, they’re a cross of two American cultivars, the Red Delicious and Virginia Rails Gainet). The almost spherical, mottled apples are especially sweet and crisp, and they have a long shelf life compared to other apple cultivars. It’s no wonder they’re one of the most common apple varieties around.
Like several other popular apple cultivars, Gala apples were developed in New Zealand in the 1930s. The mottled and aromatic apples are especially sweet, with a smoother interior texture that works well both raw and cooked. Last year, American Gala apple production finally outpaced Red Delicious, making it the country’s favorite apple variety, according to the U.S. Apple Association.
Golden Delicious Apple
Golden Delicious apples were discovered in West Virginia a little more than a century ago. These large, yellow-green apples are super sweet, so they’re popular in desserts, but they’re also used in apple sauce and apple butter because of their tender flesh. The Golden Delicious apple is a parent in many popular hybrid varieties, including Gala and Pink Lady.
Granny Smith Apple
These small, lime-colored apples are known for their puckeringly tart flavor, which shines whether it’s cooked into a pie or blended into a smoothie. They’re also the go-to variety for making caramel apples. Since they’re so sour when fresh, try serving the slices with a protein, like cheese, or grate it and add the shreds to a salad.
The Honeycrisp apple is exactly how it sounds: saccharine, so crisp it’s crunchy, and juicy. That perfection isn’t accidental—the University of Minnesota developed the Honeycrisp apple specifically to create the ultimate apple-eating experience. However, they’re one of the most expensive apple varieties, and they don’t store or ship well, so you should consume them quickly.
Jazz apples, a cross between Braeburn and Gala, originated in New Zealand in the 1980s. Aromatic yet acidic, Jazz apples are super sweet and delightfully crisp. Their skin is pinkish-red, with an almost fluorescent yellow-green background, while the interior has a rough texture and slightly yellow flesh.
How to use them: Jazz apples contain more sugar than many other varieties, so they’re especially useful when they’re baked into a pie or incorporated into a dessert. You could also use that sweetness to contrast bitter greens or savory meats such as pork tenderloin.
Small tart McIntosh apples are a favorite in Canada, where they were discovered a little over two centuries ago. It’s better suited to colder regions, like Canada and New England, and come into season in September. The all-purpose apple is delightful cooked or raw, but it’s especially liked for making sauces.
Developed in Czechia in the 1990s, hybrid Opal apples boast an interesting advantage: they won’t brown if you cut them, and the process is entirely natural—no GMOs, just good breeding. The golden apples come into season in October, but since they’re a niche variety, they’re more difficult to locate. To find Opal apples near you, click here.
How to use them: Take advantage of that non-browning flesh and show it off! Use Opal apples anywhere they can be exposed, like cheese boards, salads, or this Apple Galette with Vanilla Yogurt Drizzle.
Pink Lady Apple
Sweet, tart, and slightly fizzy, Pink Lady apples are often referred to as the champagne of apples. Pink Ladies must meet certain standards, such as a 200-day growing period on their trees, to be marketed under their trademark name—if they don’t, they’re instead sold as Cripps Pink apples. While fantastic fresh, they also retain their shape and flavor when cooked, which makes them ideal for poaching and baking.
Red Delicious Apple
Red Delicious apples are so well known they seem ubiquitous, especially since their production is so high. Their flesh doesn’t hold up well, and they often have an unpleasant, mealy texture—done right, though, the crimson apples are crisp and juicy. Interestingly, many beloved apple varieties, such as Fuji, are derivatives of the Red Delicious.
How to use them: Red delicious apples are better consumed fresh, so just eat one whole, or slice it up for a salad. You can also slice them and pair them with cheese, caramel, or peanut butter. Or, use them in a dish where their flesh will break down, such as apple sauce or a soup.
If you’re lucky enough to find a Rome apple, you’re in for a real treat. Round, red, and glossy, these mildly tart, juicy, and crunchy apples are ideal for baking. They were cultivated in Rome, Ohio back in the early 19th century.