Monday, 8 September 2008 | Tags: ,

A popular fruit of the autumn harvest, apples play a key role in many dishes, from snacks and pies to salads and beverages. But how do you know which apple to choose for what? We get down to the core of the apple story.

The Basics

  • Select firm apples with smooth skin. Avoid any with brown spots, bruises, blemishes, worm holes, or wrinkles.

  • Red apples should be vibrant red. Other colours should have a bright yellow-green undertone (“ground colour”). If the ground colour is too green, it’s not ripe enough. Too yellow and it may be overripe, with a soft, grainy texture.

  • To determine ripeness, apply gentle pressure to the apple. If your fingers leave a dent, it’s past its prime.

  • Most commercial apples are covered with a thin layer of wax, which is flavourless and safe to eat. The wax gives the fruit an attractive shine, preserves its flavour, and slows down moisture loss.

  • Unwaxed apples are fresher than waxed apples, which are artificially preserved.

  • In North America, apples are harvested between August and November. Varieties harvested earlier in the season are generally more delicate, while later varieties are hardier.

  • Later-season crops are held in commercial storage throughout the winter months, but usually start to taste stale and mealy as spring approaches.

  • When cooking with apples, you should choose the variety depending on the dish you’re making. For example:

    • Applesauce: choose soft-fleshed apples that collapse and mash easily (e.g. Cortland, McIntosh, Jonthan, Winesap)

    • Pies and Cobblers: choose flavourful and firm apples (e.g. Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Rome, Northern Spy, Newtown Pippin)

    • Salads and Sandwiches: use crunchy, firm apples (e.g. Northern Spy, Winesap, Granny Smith)

    • Savoury Recipes: choose apples with a strong acidity for roasting alongside rich meats like duck and pork. (e.g. Jonathan, Macoun, Granny Smith, Braeburn)

    • Snacking: Choose crisp apples and a tartness/sweetness balance that appeals to you (e.g. Empire, Fuji, Red Delicious)


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