Food

The Skinny on Apples

Here’s what you need to know about choosing, storing and using this versatile, hardy fruit.

An apple a day: There's a reason we all know this saying: Apples are good for you. Recent studies suggest that included as part of a well-balanced diet, they may help protect against everything from heart disease to colon and breast cancer, asthma to Alzheimer's. One small apple is a good source of fiber and vitamin C. To get the maximum nutritional benefits, don't peel before eating. Apples are available year-round, but they’re at their peak in autumn. 

 

Something to know about storing


One bad apple spoils the bunch: Here's an old wives' tale that's actually true. Damaged apples produce higher levels of ethylene, a hormone that stimulates the fruit around it to ripen faster. Handy if you want to ripen green bananas, but not so great for apples that are already ripe. When buying, look for ones that are firm and shiny, with no visible bruises or tears and a mild aroma. Refrigerate immediately, and they'll stay good for at least 4 to 6 weeks.

 

Visual Buying Guide

 

There are nearly as many varieties of apple as there are seeds on a strawberry, so we’ve narrowed down the selection to our favorite — and most readily available — types. And we threw in a few newcomers to look for at the farmer’s market, too.

 

Braeburn
Spicy-sweet, with streaky orange-red skin, Braeburns are juicy and crisp. They’re also extremely handy — enjoy them raw or baked, in pies or applesauce.

Fuji
Large, round, and red with green undertones, this Japanese variety is a relative newcomer to the apple scene, but it’s become extremely popular thanks to its supersweet, juicy flesh. They’re best eaten raw or made into sauce.

Gala
On the small side, Galas are pale red with golden stripes. The flavor is very sweet, making them perfect for eating raw or cooking into applesauce.

Golden Delicious
Golden Delicious are excellent for eating and baking, their flavor indicated by color: Yellowish-green apples are less mature and faintly tart, while a deep, buttery shade will be considerably sweeter.

Granny Smith
Crisp, green and so tart they’re almost sour, Granny Smiths are excellent eating apples — and since their flesh browns slowly, they’re great in salads. When cooked, they hold their shape nicely, making them lovely in pies.

Honeycrisp
Introduced in the 1990s, Honeycrisp have taken apple connoisseurs by storm. They’re exceptionally juicy and crisp, with what many consider to be the perfect balance between sweet and tart. Dappled red, with yellow underneath, they’re excellent for eating, cooking and baking.

McIntosh
Medium-size, with red and green skin, tender white flesh, and a flavor that is both sweet and tart, McIntoshes are ideal for eating raw. If you cook with them, you may want to use a thickener: McIntoshes are superjuicy.

Red Delicious
What many of us picture when we hear the word “apple,” Red Delicious are best eaten raw. They’re deep red, with a thick skin and very crunchy, mildly sweet flesh. Shop carefully for firm, glossy, heavy-feeling specimens — older ones turn mealy.

Ginger Gold
A newer variety of apple, Ginger Golds are sweet, with a hint of tartness. They have yellow-gold skin with a red blush, and a firm texture. Best for snacking.

Jazz
Another newbie, Jazz is the result of Gala apples crossed with Braeburn. They’re tangy, sweet and crunchy. Round, with bright-red skin and yellow touches, these are best eaten raw.

Lady Alice
Very new to the market, Lady Alice is being hailed by some as the next Fuji. Crunchy, with a deep, complex flavor reminiscent of almonds, they’re great for eating but also work well in cooking.