From Scratch: All About Apples

September 15, 2011

cinnamon apple walnut stuffed french toast Not too Virtuous Salad
Photos by Tricia Martin (left) and Sarah Shatz (right)

Apples are the great unifying fruit. Everyone loves apples (right?) and everyone has a favorite variety. With over 7,500 types of apples grown worldwide (2,500 in the US alone), we have plenty of options. Apples can be super-sweet or mouthwateringly tart, delicately floral or even spicy. Some varieties are crisp and juicy, while others are dry and mealy. Apples range in color from pale yellow to a deep winey red and can be spotted and even striped. All of these options can be a bit overwhelming, so we're here to help!

Selecting apples for cooking and eating

All the apples sold in our markets in the fall make great eating apples. When it comes to cooking, however, some apples magically hold their shape -- an excellent characteristic for fall’s bountiful pies and crisps -- while others collapse when heated, making them perfect for sauces and purées.

Here’s a quick guide to apple consumption:

Eating apples (best for munching):

  • Fuji
  • Red and Yellow Delicious
  • Gala

Apples that hold their shape when cooked (good for pies and crisps): 

  • Idared
  • Rome
  • Granny Smith 
  • Braeburn

Apples that collapse when cooked (good for sauces and purées):

  • Empire
  • Cortland
  • Macoun
  • McIntosh

Apples are a handheld powerhouse of flavor and nutrition, so choose your recipe and have some fun! Here are some of our favorite apple recipes featuring many of the apples listed above:

Roasted Apples and Parsnips
Cinnamon Apple Walnut Stuffed French Toast (pictured above, left)
Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze
Not-Too-Virtuous Salad with Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette (pictured above, right)
Curried Apple Chutney
Brown Butter and Cheddar Apple Pie
Carrot Apple Ginger Soup with Cheese Crisps

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Wine pairings:

Cooked apples make me think of fall, and there are no better wines in the fall than the northern Italian varietals Ribolla Gialla and Malvasia. Both have flavors of golden apples, apricots, minerals, and toasted almonds. They are perfect for savory applications of apples that combine pork, chicken, and turkey.

If your apple party takes you somewhere sweet, go with a Chenin Blanc from the Loire -- it's rich and honeyed with ripe red and golden apples. It pairs well with the buttery crusts of pies and tarts.

New to my world are some really great dry and aromatic heirloom varietal apple ciders. These are super refreshing and complex, good for both savory and sweet dishes. If wine is not talking to you, try one of those!

Top picks:

2009 Champalou "Cuvee des Fondraux" Vouvray
2009 Edi Keber Collio Bianco
West County Cider "Redfield" 

Jake Rosenbarger

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Like this post? Check out last week's From Scratch topic: Eggplant Primer.

2 Comments Add a Comment
  • Missing_avatar

    freshfig says: Very helpful! Thanks!

    over 2 years ago Reply to this »
  • Miglore

    kristen miglore says: This really is the eternal question -- I never can remember when apple season rolls around which ones will hold their own in a pie. Such a handy primer!

    over 2 years ago Reply to this »

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