We all have our favorite apple

There are thousands of apple cultivars worldwide. It seems everyone has a favorite. Some favor the pretty varieties like ‘Red Delicious’, while others like the sweet ones like ‘Fuji’, ‘Honey crisp’ or ‘Gala’. ‘Gala’ and ‘Honey crisp’ fruits are early maturing and ‘Fuji’ apples are late. If I had to choose, I’d say ‘Fuji’ is the sweetest.

I choose apples based on their flesh characteristics. Some have qualities that make them more suitable for a particular use. One of my favorites for fresh use in salads is ‘Cortland’. They’re not common around here as they’re adapted more to northern climates. They aren’t overly sweet, but they have a strong apple flavor.

‘Cortland’ apples have attractive white flesh and like ‘Granny Smith’ apples, they are very resistant to browning. They are also quite versatile. They hold together during cooking, so they’re great in pies. Folks who like smooth applesauce might prefer another cultivar. I like mine chunky.

‘Mcintosh’ is another northern cultivar. They’re usually grown alongside ‘Cortland’, and they complement each other. Macs make great smooth applesauce, and I like to use a few in pies to soak up the liquid and give the filling more viscosity. I grew up with ‘McIntosh’ and ‘Cortland’, so these two varieties will always have a soft spot in my heart.

One southern variety I especially like is ‘York’. These fruits are ugly and lopsided. They aren’t especially sweet either, but they keep for a long time and I love their full flavor. ‘York’ is considered more of a cooking apple, but I like them fresh.

One cultivar I don’t especially like is ‘Red Delicious’. These are beautiful apples and make great centerpieces, but their flavor is not to my liking. The texture goes downhill rapidly too.

As far as cooking is concerned, they get mushy very quickly, which should be good for applesauce. However, they seem to lose flavor during cooking and the applesauce turns out bland. Despite all this, they’re still the most popular apple cultivar.

‘Golden Delicious’ lives up the delicious name. They are sweet, crisp and juicy. They also make a fine baking apple. My problem with them is that they hold together a little too well in a pie. They break down very little, so pies often turn out chunky and runny. Another problem with this variety is that fruits tend to bruise easily.

‘Winesap’ is a cultivar with a great reputation as a cooking apple. They aren’t especially sweet, but they are very versatile. They make great pies and applesauce. Their flesh has a unique balance of firmness and disintegration when cooked.

In recent years ‘Pink Lady’ apples have gained popularity by leaps and bounds. They remind me a little of a colorful ‘Granny Smith’. They’re tart, firm and hold their color well when eaten fresh. They are late maturing, so you won’t see them in stores much early in the fall.

I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to apple varieties. Additionally, these are my preferences and you might have differing opinions. Try a new cultivar. You might like it.


Ted Manzer teaches agriculture at Northeastern High School.

About tedmanzer

I grew up in Old Town Maine and got a B.S. at the University of Maine in Plant Sciences/ minor in Botany. From there I moved to West Virginia and earned a M.S. in Agronomy at WVU. I also met my wife there. She grew up in rural WV as the daughter of tenant farmers who raised cattle and hogs. Their lifestyle at times was one of subsistence and I learned a lot from them. I've always been a foraging buff, but combining my formal botanical knowledge with their practical 'Foxfire-type' background opened up my eyes a little more. I recently retired from teaching high school agriculture after 25 years teaching with my wife. Until recently I wrote a weekly nature/foraging column for the local paper (dailyadvance.com). I also have written several Christian nature/adventure novels that can be purchased on Amazon in Kindle format. One is a five book family saga I call the 'Forgotten Virtues' series. In the first book, Never Alone (presently out of print), a young boy comes of age after his father dies in a plane crash, and he has to make it alone. The second book, Strange Courage, takes Carl from his High School graduation to his recovery from a nasty divorce. The third book, Second Chances, takes Carl from his ex-wife's death and the custody of his son to his heroic death at age 59. The fourth book, Promises Kept, depicts how his grandchildren react and adjust to his death (this one is not yet published). In the final book, Grandfather's Way, his youngest and most timid granddaughter emerges from the shadow of her overachieving family and accomplishes more in four months than most do in a lifetime. I use many foraging references with a lot of the plants I profile in these articles in those books. I also wrote a romance novel titled Virginia. It is available on Amazon and is a different type of romance from a man's perspective.
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1 Response to We all have our favorite apple

  1. tonytomeo says:

    The Santa Clara Valley used to be famous for vast orchards, but only a few produced apples or pears. (Apple and Macintosh are not exactly appreciative of our local culture.) ‘Golden Delicious’ was popular for home gardens because it does not need much chill. It is probably my favorite as a ‘single’ apple tree (for gardens that can accommodate only one tree that makes apples for fresh eating as well as cooking and everything else.) In the Santa Cruz Mountains above, where there were a few apple and pear orchards, ‘Gravenstein’ was the standard apple. It got the bit of chill that it needs there. Other cultivars were grown to prolong the harvest. Pippins were grown because they can be stored longer without canning.

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