From Salad to Cider: How to Pick the Most A-PEEL-ing Apple for Your Recipe

Published on Tips + tricks

Sweet, tender early-season apples are making their first appearance in this week's Farm Boxes! While there are just a couple of varieties ready to eat right now, soon there will be apples everywhere. With hundreds of varieties available during peak apple time, how do you know which apple works best for your recipe?

There are no hard-and-fast kitchen rules when it comes to selecting apple varieties for recipes, but the core traits to consider are texture and tartness. 

 

Tart VS Sweet

For rich desserts and savory dishes, tart apples (like Jonathans and Jonagolds) are your best bet.  The taste of sweet apples tends to get washed out by a higher fat content. In pies, crumbles tarts, and other buttery baked goods, an apple with more acid provides a better balance and helps the flavor stand out. In savory dishes, tart apples bring a ton of fruit flavor without making the dish too sweet.

Meanwhile, luscious, sugary apples, like Honeycrisps or Ginger Golds, are ideal for tempering the tang of sharp, salty cheeses like aged cheddar or gorgonzola. They also work well in delicate cakes or sweet sauces, syrups, and juices.

 

Firm Flesh VS Tender

Any dish that requires a long cook time also requires a firm apple--think Honeycrisps, Granny Smiths, Galas, and Braeburns. Crisp, firm apples will hold up in the oven without dissolving into mushy puddles. For muffins, pancakes, sautees, or any dish that has a short cook time, tender apples will cook and soften quickly.

 

Still confused? For a little additional guidance, we’ve put together a list of some common apple varieties and the best ways to use them. Scroll on for more!


Eating in Hand

  • Fuji
  • Honeycrisp
  • Empire
  • Gala
  • Gravenstein
  • Jonagold
  • Ginger Gold

 

Cheese Pairing

  • Cortland
  • Empire
  • Fuji
  • Ginger Gold

 

On a Salad

  • Granny Smith
  • Cortland
  • Empire
  • Fuji
  • Gala
  • Ida Red
  • Jonathan

Savory Cooked Dishes

  • McIntosh
  • Empire
  • Fuji
  • Golden Delicious
  • Ida Red
  • Ginger Golds

Pies and Baked Goods

  • Ginger Gol
  • Gala
  • Golden Delicious
  • Honeycrisp
  • Northern Spy
  • Braeburn
  • Cortland
  • Empire
  • Granny Smith
  • Gravenstein
  • Ida Red
  • Jonathan

 

Applesauce

  • Gala
  • Honeycrisp
  • Empire
  • Gravenstein
  • Jonathan
  • Ginger Gold

 

Juice

  • Empire
  • Gala
  • Gravenstein
  • Honeycrisp

 

Cider

  • Honeycrisp
  • Empire
  • Gala
  • Gravenstein

 

Drying

  • Empire
  • Ginger Gold