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Apples, or Pyrus malus, are a member of the rose family. Bet you didn’t know that! They have been cultivated for over 3,000 years and appeared on the menus of the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians.
A cool weather fruit, the availability of all types of apples has expanded to year-round as they are now grown in southern hemisphere countries like New Zealand and Chile where the seasons are opposite to those in North America. In Ontario apples are readily available and fresh at the tail end of summer and most of the Fall months.
How to Buy All Types of Apples
Select apples that are firm, without blemishes, wrinkles or bruises. Apples will not ripen if picked prematurely but mature apples will ripen further at home.
How to Store Apples
To hasten the ripening process, punch holes in a brown paper bag and store apples inside at room temperature. The ethylene gas they emit also causes other fruits to ripen quickly, so store apples separately. Refrigerated apples will keep much longer – up to several weeks – stored in plastic in the crisper drawer.
A Dab of Lemon Juice
Wash all apple varieties just before using or eating them. Core an apple before removing the skin – it is easier to handle. Exposed apple flesh turns brown quickly, so sprinkle with lemon juice to slow this process. If you are a Mom and you chop apples up into wedges for your kid’s lunches, this may help your apple slices stay fresh looking. That matters to kids who eat with their eyes and then their tastebuds. Kids are often fussy after all.
Apples are a good source of Vitamin C and fibre. One average apple contains about 80 calories. So don’t skimp on eating apples. They are always a good choice and one of the first things I buy at the grocery store every single week.
Best Types of Apples for Eating
Though taste is subjective, these types of apples are the most popular types for eating fresh out of hand. Choices are listed alphabetically under each category.
First choices: Baldwin, Granny Smith, Jonathan, McIntosh, Stayman
Second choices: Empire, Fuji, Gala,
Third choices: Golden Delicious, Russet, Spartan
Have you ever been to an apple orchard? Take some time in September to go visit a local apple orchard near you. Here’s one of our favourite apple recipes which we made after visiting Apple Land.
Best Varieties of Apples for Pies
These varieties of apples hold their shape when exposed to high heat better than other apples and their flesh doesn’t turn mushy.
- First choices: Baldwin, Jonathan, Northern Spy, Rhode Island Greening, Rome
- Second choices: Cortland, Crispin, Empire, Golden Delicious, Spartan
- Third choice: Russet
Best Types of Apples for Baking
These types are well-suited to making whole baked apples.
- First choice: Cortland, Granny Smith, Jonathan, McIntosh
- Second choices: Crispin, Empire, Russet
- Third choice: Golden Delicious
Best Apple Varieties for Apple Sauce
I love making apple sauce here. So easy. Toss the apples in the crockpot and let it simmer all day. Add a little bit of brown sugar or cinnamon. And Granny Smith is our all time favourite apple. But they are often so expensive. Best to wait until these are in season.
Granny Smith, Northern Spy, Rome
Best Types of Apples for Salads and Fruit Plates
Best choices: Baldwin, Cortland, Granny Smith, Red Delicious
The raw flesh on these apples resists browning better than other varieties.
Best Types of Apple for Cider
Have you ever made your own cider? I prefer to buy it because we don’t drink it too often. However, fresh, homemade cider is the best.
Baldwin, McIntosh, Northern Spy, Russet are some common varieties of apples around here in Ontario.
Easy Recipe for Cinnamon Red Wine Poached Apples
Make this simple and elegant fall or winter recipe using Granny Smith, Northern Spy or Rome apples. Northern Spy are versatile and Granny Smith have that little scrumptious hint of sour. That’s why I love those.
Cinnamon Red Wine Poached Apples
- 1 1/2 cups good quality dry red wine
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 whole apples peeled, cored, halved and sprinkled with lemon juice
- 1 scoop vanilla ice cream per serving – optional
- 4 tbsp chopped walnuts toppings – optional
- To a low, wide saucepan, add wine, honey, cinnamon sticks and lemon juice.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Add apples and reduce heat to low.
- Partially cover the pan and let simmer for about 15 minutes, while occasionally ladling sauce over apples.
Let the apples cool in the sauce to room temperature.
- Discard cinnamon sticks.
- Place one apple half in a dessert bowl.
- Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired, and/or sauce and a sprinkle of chopped walnuts or pecans. Makes 4 portions.
In Praise of Apples and ALL the Apple Varieties
Apples can be so versatile and healthy too. It’s worth gathering numerous recipes this time of year so that you can use them in as many ways possible. What’s your favourite apple recipe?