Did you know that the average US consumer eats about 19 pounds of apples per year? If you put all of the apples picked in a year side-by-side, they would circle the Earth TWELVE times. Annually, 10 – 12 billion apples are handpicked in Washington State alone.
Not only are apples plentiful, they’re healthy. We’ve all heard that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” but the adage is more literal than you might imagine. Most apple varietals are packed with fiber and phytonutrients that have been found in studies to lower blood cholesterol and that may be prevent some forms of cancer, heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes and asthma. Apples can help prevent asthma?
I also knew that apples came in different colors, shapes and sizes, but I certainly didn’t know that over 2,500 known varieties of apples are grown in the United States alone.
In the name of good old-fashioned research, I decided to head over to the farmer’s market and pick up a a sampling of those 2,500 to try them out for myself. Well, not all of them. I settled on eight types apples.
Yeah, that’s a lot of apples. HOWEVER, in my own defense, I used four apples – all different types – in the apple cake I made Wednesday night and I usually eat an apple with my lunch or as a snack in the afternoon. For good measure, I tried to sneak an apple in wherever I could, and I learned that surprisingly, apples are quite good in grilled cheddar cheese with a drizzle of honey but not so lovable in oatmeal (Hot oatmeal + cold apples = eh, just so/so). So over the course of the week, I sliced and I tasted. I peeled, and cored. I took some notes. I even enlisted the help of some friends in case my palate was biased (and it was. It turns out, I’m a Delicious girl all the way, red, golden, whatever).
Here are the results:
Red Delicious - Sweet and crispy. A good eating apple, but I’ve never tried baking with Red Delicious. I made a “baked apple” with a red delicious once and thought that the heat really changed the flavor and made it less sweet, it tasted a litle burnt even though there was no visible overcooking.
Jonagold - A good snack apple – very crispy but not too sour. If you like a tart, crunchy apple this is a hybrid between Jonathan and Golden Delicious that was surprisingly tasty.
Empire - A perfect, well-rounded apple, this little guy strikes a great balance between sweet and sour. It was just tangy enough so not to be too sweet. I used it for the apple cake in my previous post but I probably ate just as many pieces as I diced. They weren’t as crispy as I usually like apples, so I’d probably stick to these for baking, despite their tastiness.
Macoun - These were developed in NY State in 1932 – fun trivia fact, right? This was definitely one of the sweeter apples I tried. It’s juicy and a soft texture would make it a great choice for cooking. I don’t know that it’s the best baking apple because it might make your final product soggy, but I used one of these in an apple cake and I think the combination turned out great.
Cortland - If it’s possible for an apple to taste like candy, this one does. “It’s like an apple jolly rancher” was one tester’s comment. Didn’t love it, wouldn’t buy them.
Gala - Smaller than the palm of your hand (if you have small hands), these are red, juicy apples with an intense, sweet flavor. Gala apples are known to be mild eating apples, but this one was a little sweeter than most and had a brighter flavor that some of the others that we tried. I think this would be great in a salad with a savory dressing, and it was excellent on a sandwich with sharp cheddar.
Golden Delicious - Juicy and tart but not overwhelmingly sour, this was easily a favorite, because It was even mildly sweet but had a full flabor. Delicious apples are (should be!) crunchy, so I liked how crisp this one was. These are said to be good for pies and baking but I consider these an eating apple.
Honeycrisp - The first bite of a honeycrisp tasted sour but the more I ate, the more I liked it. The aftertaste was sweet so it was a nice combination. Honeycrisp apples are known for being exceptionally tart and juicy.
Want to test your own apple-savviness? Try this quiz.
I’ll also leave you with a few of my favorite apple recipes from around the web. I intend to try these very soon, since I have a few apples that might need to be used up…
Apple Shortbread Cakelets – Apples + Butter + Sugar. What could possibly be bad about this?
Apple Sausage Pie – I like the combination of apples and onion and I think this would be delicious with a spicy chicken sausage.
French Apple Pie – Growing up, my favorite pie was always Dutch Apple, so I’m thinking French Apple would be close second…
Apple Jacks – Like caramel apple, but a cookie. Sign me up!