Apples are a favorite fruit for children and adults. They’re great for snacking and can even satisfy a sweet tooth with their crisp, honeyed flavors. Always the popular choice for pies and applesauce, apples can be eaten raw or used for cooking and baking.
Apples not only taste great but are also loaded with nutrition and health benefits. Studies have shown that apples reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol, and contribute to pulmonary health and weight loss and weight management.
When it comes to choosing an apple, the produce aisle can get a little overwhelming. This is understandable considering there are usually dozens of apple varieties. Luckily, most of them are comparable in health benefits, so the choice is more about personal preference than nutritional value. Keep reading for a breakdown of types of apples including color, taste, and season.
Types of Apples
According to the United States Apple Association, there are more than 100 different types of apples commercially grown in America. However, about 90% of all apple production is made up of about 15 popular varieties. The following apples are the most popular in the United States.
Ambrosia apples have a yellow skin with a slight pink tint. They taste sweet with a hint of honey flavor and are usually available from fall through winter.
The color of Braeburn apples varies from orange to red with a yellow background. It’s a juicy apple with a sweet, spicy flavor. You can start enjoying them in the fall, around October, until July.
Identified in the State of Washington from a chance seedling, Cameo apples stand out in flavor with a hint of lemon that is absent from most apples. They have a red skin and sometimes a splash of orange. They are usually available for a limited time, from fall until early spring.
Cortland apples have a red skin with yellow-green patches. They taste tart and tangy and stay fresh longer than most apples once sliced. Cortland apples are most abundant in the Eastern and Midwestern United States and harvest from fall through winter.
Cripps Pink (Pink Lady)
Cripps Pink apples have a very light pinkish-red blush and a sweet-tart flavor. Sometimes referred to as Pink Lady apples, they are generally available from November to August.
The Crispin apple used to be called Mutsu due to its region of origin in Japan. You can spot it by its bright green color. It is crisp, sweet, and ideal for baking. This green apple is also available most of the year so you’ll never have to be without an apple a day.
Empire apples are named after the Empire State, New York, where they were grown and debuted to the world in 1966. They’re a cross between Red Delicious and McIntosh apples. Usually medium to dark red with a hint of green, they have a sweet flavor and are normally available from September to July.
Fuji apples are named after Mt. Fuji in Japan, their country of origin. This Japanese variety of apple did not appear in U.S. grocery stores until the 1980s. Fuji apples have a tart flavor and are often a combination of yellow and red. You can get them year-round starting in the fall.
Gala apples are popular as desserts and snacks due to their very sweet taste. These delectable sweet apples are often red-and-yellow striped and ready to be enjoyed year-round starting in July.
Golden Delicious apples are hard to miss with their yellow, and sometimes pinkish, skin. They have a mild flavor yet retain the sweetness expected by apple lovers. They are usually available year round.
Did you know that Granny Smiths are originally Australian apples descended from French crab apples? Like the Crispin apple, the Granny Smith apple stands out among the sea of red apples with its bright green skin. They are well-known for their tartness and juicy flesh, and are versatile, being equally enjoyed on their own as well as in apple pies. August is the start of their season.
Honeycrisp apples have a yellow-red hue. They are juicy and sweet with a (you guessed it!) honeyed flavor and are most often available only in a limited quantity starting in September.
We can thank New Zealand for Jazz apples, which typically have bright red skin and can sometimes have spots of yellow-green. With a sweet taste similar to Honeycrisp apples, they are ripe for the picking year-round and are a cross of Royal Gala and Braeburn.
Jonagold apples are crisp and tart with a hint of honey. A combo of Jonathan and Golden Delicious Apples, Jonagolds sport a red-orange color and are available starting in October and through July.
Macoun apples have a dark red skin and a sweet flavor, which makes them a popular choice for apple cider. They are commonly available year-round beginning in the fall.
McIntosh apples are named after John McIntosh, the man who found wild apple trees in his yard and proceeded to care for them in his garden. The apples that came from the trees were subsequently named after him. McIntosh apples are dark red with a delicate white flesh and sometimes have a hint of green to them. These juicy apples have a tart flavor and are available from September through May.
Paula Red apples have a colorful skin that is a combination of red and yellow-green. They are sweet and tart and are popular for making applesauce. They are customarily available in early fall but sometimes harvest as early as late summer, around August.
Red Delicious apples are perhaps the most popular apple in the United States. They are easily recognizable by their deep red color, longer shape, and “feet.” They are juicy and sweet and a popular choice for salads. You can find them at your local grocers or farmers market starting in the fall around October and lasting until July.
Organic vs. Non-organic Apples
The type of apple to buy is only one consideration when browsing the produce aisle. Whether or not to buy organic produce is another. Is it really healthier? Why is buying organic so expensive? Let’s investigate.
Organic apples are grown per USDA guidelines that include the following:
- Soil quality: The soil the apple trees are grown in must be certified to have had no prohibited substances applied for 3 years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include pesticides and fertilizers.
- Pest and weed control: The use of dangerous pesticides and weed killers is prohibited.
The thing to keep in mind when choosing organic or non-organic produce is the way the produce has been treated. Organic produce is free from harmful pesticides while non-organic produce may have had significant exposure to these dangerous chemicals.
There has long been a debate about the nutritional value of organic food versus non-organic food. There have been conflicting studies: some have shown there is no nutritional difference while other, more recent studies, have shown that organic food does have a slightly higher nutritional value.
The choice of whether or not to buy organic or non-organic is often determined by bank account. If you can’t afford organic apples, then don’t give up on your favorite fruit! Regardless of the type of apple or whether it’s organic or non-organic, you can’t go wrong by eating apples as a regular part of your diet.
Let us know in the comments below: what’s your favorite apple?