Apples are the quintessential fall fruit. Check out some of my sweet and savory apple recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between.
Here’s a brief overview of some key things to know about apples, the best apple varietals for different uses, and some helpful tools for all your apple-centric cooking and baking.
Best apples for cooking and baking
Some general principles for picking the right apples:
- Snacking: Apples are always crispest in the fall, right after harvest.
- Applesauce: Apple sauce is essentially mashed apples, so you pick a soft, juicy, and sweet apple that breaks down easily.
- Chunks: If you want your apples to stay chunky like when you’re making bourbon apples or adding them to a meatball, you’ll need a firm apple. For salads, use a tart apple that also resists browning, like a Pink Lady.
- Pie: The best apple for apple pie depends on the texture you want. Many people like apple pies made with a combination of soft and firm apples, although I prefer my apple pies with apples that bake into soft chunks. Braeburn apples or Braeburn crosses are good for this.
One of the biggest challenges in claiming something the best apple is that apples available in one part of the world may not be grown or shipped to another. So East Coast folks may love your Cortland apples, but I’m a fan of pies made with Jazz apples grown out here in Washington State.
While outranked by other foods like strawberries and kale, apples appear at number five on the dirty dozen list of foods to buy organic if you can. That’s because you can find pesticide residue on most apples, and that pesticide has probably penetrated through to the flesh. You can’t wash it or peel it away.
To keep apples from browning when sliced, toss them with some lemon juice. Or pick an apple that is slower to turn brown, like a Pink Lady or Cameo.
You can store apples at room temperature or in the refrigerator, although they’ll stay crisper for longer in the fridge.
You can freeze apples for future uses, either as parbaked apple slices or as applesauce.
Are you an adventurous home cook looking for inspiration in your weeknight meals and weekend baking?