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Apple Varieties

Arkansas Black

Harvest: 
end of October
Season: 
until December
Quality: 
very crisp, juicy, firm flesh, flavor sharp, aromatic
Use: 
excellent for fresh-eating and good for culinary use

Arkansas Black is one of the prettiest apples to look at with its deep red color and symmetrical shape. It keeps forever and the taste improves in storage. Not a bland apple, it is crisp, strongly flavored and aromatic.

U-Pick Variety: 
yes

Baldwin

Harvest: 
October
Season: 
October
Quality: 
medium to large red apple, sweet and crisp
Use: 
good to very good as a fresh-eating and culinary variety

Baldwin may have been the most popular apple in America at the turn of the century. It is medium to large, red and attractive, with coarse, crisp flesh. It is juicy, sometimes very juicy, and can be a good to very good fresh-eating apple. It stores extremely well, and is a desirable variety for pies. It was once widely planted throughout New England, Ontario and Michigan. Today it is rare.

Braeburn

Harvest: 
november
Season: 
November
Quality: 
Rich, aromatic, crisp, breaking and very juicy flesh, moderately tart, improving in storage
Use: 
fresh-eating, processing (sauce, pies, baking)

Many apple lovers consider Braeburn to be the best tasting apple of all the newer varieties. It has a rich, full blend of sweet and tart, lots of juice and is very crisp. It gets better and better in storage and keeps very, very well.

U-Pick Variety: 
yes

Cortland

Harvest: 
September
Season: 
September through early October
Quality: 
mild flavor, tender, crisp texture, slightly tart
Use: 
fresh-eating, salads

Cortland is a large red apple with fine, smooth white flesh that is very slow to brown, which makes it a superb choice for salads. It can be a very good fresh-eating apple if it hasn't been off of the tree too long. The flavor is mild and slightly tart.

U-Pick Variety: 
yes

Empire

Harvest: 
late September
Season: 
October-November
Quality: 
medium sized attractive red apple with mild flavor, firm texture.
Use: 
fresh-eating, baking

Empire is a cross between Red Delicious and McIntosh and combines the best qualities of each. It is firmer and sweeter than McIntosh and keeps longer. It has some of the sweetness of Red Delicious, with much more character. Empire is better for baking than either of its parents. A good all purpose apple.

U-Pick Variety: 
yes

Fuji

Harvest: 
late October
Season: 
October through December or later
Quality: 
firm, juicy, low-acidity, very sweet
Use: 
excells as salad and fresh-eating apple

Fuji is one of the most successful recent introductions. It has an unusual combination of low-acid sweetness with crunchy, juicy flesh and a pleasant aroma described as "warm" by some observers. Fuji is becoming immensely popular around the world. The fruit has a greenish cast when ripe, overlayed with pinkish stripes. We have eaten this variety after it has been in storage for 6 months or more and been favorably impressed, which means that Fuji is a good choice in the supermarket. You will see them in the market from New Zealand in the spring and summer, but we feel that the Washington grown Fujis have slightly better flavor, even after extended storage. We prefer an apple with a little more "kick", (like Braeburn or Mutsu), but if you like a milder, sweeter apple, this one may well become your favorite.

U-Pick Variety: 
yes

Gala

Harvest: 
September
Season: 
October-November
Quality: 
crisp,dense flesh with mild, sweet flavor
Use: 
fresh-eating

Gala is certainly one of the gaudiest looking apples. It features intense red or orange color and a beautiful, conical shape. Gala is one of the fairly recent introductions, sometimes called "gourmet apples", that are specifically aimed at the segment of the public that has been demanding better flavor in store-bought apples. Gala, along with Fuji, Braeburn, Mutsu, and Pink Lady, gives the supermarket shopper a little more flavor and variety than in the past. As much as we like the older apples, there is no doubt that one could live well on just these five varieties. Be warned that Gala does not hold up in storage as well as the other four, and is much better purchased locally in season. Enjoy Gala when it is fresh in the fall and available from local growers in farm markets and fruit stands. It is being grown just about everywhere now. It is a sweet, mild apple. There are many strains, so don't judge the fruit by its color. Some are almost solid bright reddish-orange, others are striped. You will see New Zealand grown Galas in the supermarket, and they can be pretty good when they are in season, which for the southern hemisphere is early summer.

U-Pick Variety: 
yes

Ginger Gold

Harvest: 
mid to late August
Season: 
August-September
Quality: 
sweet flavor, firm texture
Use: 
fresh-eating, salad

Ginger Gold is a fun apple that is getting easier to find, and we always depend on "Gingers" to inaugurate the apple eating season for us. It may be the most interesting fresh-eating apple of the early-ripening varieties. It has a fresh, clean, refreshing taste with a good balance of sweet and tart. This variety has good acceptance by kids with its juicy "snap" and sweetness. Some say it is reminiscent of pears in texture and flavor. Look for Ginger Gold early in the season and pick the ones that have ripened to a warm or pale yellow, sometimes with a red blush. Not as rich and heavy as fall varieties, Ginger Gold is the perfect summer apple. Have fun munching.

Golden Delicious

Harvest: 
October
Season: 
October through December
Quality: 
large yellow fruit, very sweet, thin skinned
Use: 
fresh-eating, dessert, processing (sauce, pies, baking), freezing

One of the most popular apple varieties in the world and one that it is not easy to dislike with its agreeable taste, texture, aroma and appearance. It isn't a bold apple, rather an old and easy-going friend. Even if you are the more adventurous type, we challenge you to taste a ripe Golden Delicious picked right of the tree on a crisp fall day. You'll discover, like we did, that although tame, Golden Delicious is an easy apple to like; warm, sweet and mellow with just the right tang and juice. After all, it certainly has a lot more personality than a banana or a melon, and there are times when tame does the trick. Beware the ones that have sat in storage since the Reagan administration. Under those circumstances Golden Delicious can seem more like a difficult relative than an old friend.

Golden Russet

Harvest: 
October
Season: 
October to January
Quality: 
sugary, dense, rich flesh
Use: 
fresh-eating, cider, storage

An old American variety that is the essence of a European gourmet apple; rich, dense, fine grained, full-flavored and crunchy. Golden Russet is considered to be the best cider apple of all time by many. If you are interested in trying a more challenging apple than what you typically find in the store, this is a good choice. It varies somewhat in quality, but it is hard to find a bad one, and is still grown in some quantity, mainly for cider. It is no beauty queen by American standards of beauty, which require a gaudy, plastic, manufactured look to anything we put in our mouths. Golden Russet will vary from a dull green to a brownish yellow with a coppery blush and have rough, russeted skin. This is all part of the character and personality of this little gem. There is one old, lone tree on an orchard near us, grown and tended by orchardist Versil White, and it has become like an old friend that we visit throughout the year. Last year there weren't enough apples on the tree to justify picking for market, but there were just enough to keep the Apple Journal staff happy.

U-Pick Variety: 
yes

Granny Smith

Harvest: 
late October
Season: 
October through December
Quality: 
crisp and tart
Use: 
baking, sauce, juice

Not a bad fresh-eating variety, a little tart, but not sour, Granny is marketed for the most part as a cooking apple. It ships and stores very well, being very resilient and tolerant of handling. It is an attractive grass green, although the ones with a warm, pale cast and a little blush have better flavor.

U-Pick Variety: 
yes

Gravenstein

Harvest: 
August
Season: 
August and September
Quality: 
thin-skinned, juicy, breaking and spicy
Use: 
fresh-eating, pies, sauce, baking

Gravenstein is probably the oldest and most distinctive summer variety. It is widely grown throughout Europe and in this country mainly in northern California. This is a variety that you want to find when it is in season, as the subtle and distinctive flavor does not stay at its peak for long. A beautiful red and yellow striped apple, Gravenstein is highly prized for sauce and for baking. The flavor and aroma are instantly recognizable and variously described as fruity or spicy. This is an excellent variety for dessert and culinary use, with a memorable and unusual flavor.

Grimes Golden

Harvest: 
late September
Season: 
October through December
Quality: 
rich, sweet, spicy, syrup-like juice
Use: 
fresh-eating, cider, sauce

Grimes Golden is an old West Virginia variety that many older growers hold to be the best dessert apple available, when properly grown. With a rich spicy flavor and perfumed skin, it can be a gourmet delight when it is at its best. The flavor is elusive to describe, some likening it to coriander. Not as common as it once was, you will still find it here and there, and is definitely one to try. It is not quite as crisp as Golden Delicious, but makes up for that with character.

Honeycrisp

Harvest: 
mid-September
Season: 
September to November
Quality: 
intensely crisp and juicy, sweet and tart balance
Use: 
fresh-eating, salad, cooking

There is only one drawback to Honeycrisp that we are aware of, and that is that it is hard to find. Demand is far exceeding supply right now for this relative newcomer from Minnesota. Honeycrisp is so good as a fresh-eating apple and has such wide appeal that it is the one variety to recommend with absolute confidence. The two strongest features are a crisp, dense, juicy, flesh that seems to explode in the mouth, and a wonderful balance of tart and sweet flavors. While it has a flavor intensity that appeals to antique apple lovers, it is also clean and refreshing which appeals to Americans with less adventurous palates. It seems to do better in a colder climate and we are beginning to see it in fruit stands all over Michigan, Wisconsin and especially in Minnesota. This one made us true believers here last fall. Find it.

Idared

Harvest: 
October
Season: 
late October through December
Quality: 
tangy flavor, firm texture
Use: 
fresh-eating, baking

Tangy and firm, hard and tart, Ida Red is a real workhorse variety. "Old Reliable" lasts forever and keeps its quality in storage. It will never be considered a gourmet variety, but it is reliable in the kitchen and can be a good fresh-eating apple. It absolutely excels as a baking apple. This is the variety to stock up on should you need to feed an army, or survive a winter in a log cabin in the frozen north. Ida will never let you down.

U-Pick Variety: 
yes
U-Pick Open: 
open Jamesport

Jonagold

Harvest: 
mid-September to October
Season: 
September to November
Quality: 
slightly tart flavor, tender texture
Use: 
fresh-eating, pies

Jonagold is an excellent dessert variety that is much more popular in Europe than America. It is a cross between Jonathon and Golden Delicious and retains some of the best features of both. It has a sprightly, juicy flavor like Jonathon and a sweetness and aroma similar to that of Golden Delicious. Jonagold consistently places high in taste tests in Europe. The subtle and complex taste seems to be at its best for a couple of weeks after picking, when it can be a real treat. This is another variety that proves the value of buying locally and in season.

U-Pick Variety: 
yes

Jonamac

Harvest: 
early September
Season: 
September
Quality: 
white, firm, crisp, tart and juicy
Use: 
fresh-eating

This is a beautiful red and green, medium sized McIntosh X Jonathon cross that is a great fresh-eating apple for a relatively brief time after harvest. It is usually a little more tart than McIntosh.

U-Pick Open: 
open Jamesport

Jonathan

Harvest: 
early October
Season: 
October through November
Quality: 
Tart and spicy flavor, juicy and crisp
Use: 
fresh-eating, cider, sauce

Jonathon is a 200 year old variety from New York state. Like McIntosh and Northern Spy, it has achieved enduring and broad popularity. Jonathon lovers swear by it, and with its spicy, tangy, somewhat tart flavor and crisp, juicy flesh, it is no wonder that Jonathon consistently ranks in the top ten among leading varieties grown in the country. It keeps well and it is hard to find a bad one. It won't hold shape real well when baked, otherwise it is a very good variety for the kitchen. Sauce, juice, and cider retain some of the spicy taste of Jonathon when it is blended with other varieties. Jonathon is as American as Mom and, well, apple pie.

Lodi

Harvest: 
mid August
Season: 
mid August, early September
Quality: 
tart flavor, soft texture
Use: 
sauce, pies

Lodi is a waxy looking, bright green, smooth-skinned apple that is an excellent early variety for kitchen use, especially for sauce.

Macoun

Harvest: 
late September
Season: 
late September to early October
Quality: 
Mild flavor, crisp texture.
Use: 
fresh-eating, salad, baking, sauce

Firm, aromatic, and juicy like its parent, McIntosh, Macoun has a loyal following of fans that scour farm markets in early October to find this unique variety. At its brief peak of flavor after picking, it can be one of the best fresh-eating experiences you will find. This variety won't come to you, you will have to seek it out. If you like McIntosh, you will want to try Macoun. Many say that it has all of the great qualities of Mac, with an extra dimension that makes its flavor superior. It also surpasses McIntosh for baking.

McIntosh

Harvest: 
September
Season: 
September through December
Quality: 
very spicy, aromatic, slightly tart flavor, crisp texture
Use: 
fresh-eating, salads, sauce, pies, baking

Nothing quite compares with Mac for fresh-eating. The crispy, juicy and tangy, firm, yet tender white flesh is perfumed and spicy in a way that no other variety can match. Mac is a good kitchen apple, although it doesn't hold shape when cooked. True McIntosh fans won't consider any other variety and eat them all winter. They do get softer in storage, but the flavor holds up very well. McIntosh offspring include Cortland, Macoun, Empire, Spartan, Jonamac, possibly Paula Red, Jersey Mac, and many others.

Melrose

Harvest: 
mid October
Season: 
November to January
Quality: 
coarse, sweet, somewhat acidic
Use: 
cooking, fresh-eating

Melrose is a Jonathon X Red Delicious cross. With rich flavor and coarse, juicy flesh, Melrose is a good fresh-eating apple, especially when left to age a little while after picking. In storage it develops a warm, fruity aroma. It has a touch of Red Delicious sweetness. Melrose is an excellent choice for kitchen use, retaining its shape and flavor in the oven. This is the official state apple variety of Ohio, where it originated.

Mutsu

Harvest: 
October
Season: 
October to December
Quality: 
crisp, juicy, tart
Use: 
fresh-eating, sauce

Mutsu is a variety developed in Japan that is growing in popularity here. It is an excellent desert apple. Large and greenish-yellow, Mutsu is packed with juice with a perfect balance between sweet and tart. It makes great sauce, especially if the peel is left on for more flavor.

U-Pick Variety: 
yes
U-Pick Open: 
open Jamesport

Northern Spy

Harvest: 
late October
Season: 
October through January
Quality: 
tangy, robust, juicy, firm
Use: 
baking, fresh eating, all-purpose

“Spies are for Pies!“ One of the oldest American varieties, it is the quintessential baking apple. Overlook the irregular shape and variable coloration, this apple is not for display. A little too robust as a fresh-eating apple for many, it still has many fans who enjoy it in hand. If you live in the north, don't make the mistake of passing on Northern Spy in favor of a prettier apple.

Red Delicious

Harvest: 
late September
Season: 
September through November
Quality: 
sweet flavor; tough, bitter skin
Use: 
fresh-eating, salad

The most controversial and widely distributed American apple. Red Delicious stores and ships so well, while retaining its shiny deep-red good looks, that it is sold in every possible state of internal disintegration. Too often, store bought Reds are little more than cardboard flavored, mealy mush beneath their glamorous skin. Still, Americans continue to buy it more than all other varieties combined. It can be a pretty good apple under the right conditions. Look for locally grown apples in season, and don't insist on a uniformly dark red color, and the chances of getting a better apple will improve in your favor. Many growers are now growing strains that have been developed more for flavor than for looks. Don't defeat their efforts by rejecting apples that don't look as though they came from a plastic injection molding machine. Remember this simple rule- art is a matter of visual esthetics and food is a matter of taste- not the other way around.

U-Pick Variety: 
yes

Rome Beauty

Harvest: 
late September through October
Season: 
late September into November
Quality: 
thick-skinned, mildly tart and crisp
Use: 
fresh-eating, sauce, pies, baking

Good keeper, fair for fresh-eating and reliable in the kitchen, Rome is one of those varieties that owes its popularity more for its looks than its taste. This variety still looks good long after its prime, so watch for out of season Romes and avoid them, as they have often turned mealy.

U-Pick Variety: 
yes

Wealthy

Harvest: 
September
Season: 
September
Quality: 
lively flavor, coarse and soft texture, sweet aroma
Use: 
baking, freezing, cider, fresh-eating

Wealthy is a good all-purpose kitchen apple, and a good fresh-eating variety in season. Many old-timers say this is the best apple for pies.

Winesap

Harvest: 
October
Season: 
October through December
Quality: 
strong sweet and sour contrast, wine-like flavor and aroma
Use: 
fresh eating, culinary use, cider

Winesap is a "must try" variety. It has been described as the perfect distillation of a crisp fall day. It is a relatively small, round, deep red apple with a somewhat tough skin and firm, crisp, yellow flesh. It is a very juicy variety and the flavor is a very strong, yet perfectly balanced blend of sweet and tart. The aroma and flavor have a distinctive wine-like richness. Winesap is an exceptional kitchen variety as well, and its distinctive aroma and flavor survive cooking and enhance any recipe. This is one old-time variety that refuses to die and is still fairly widely grown. It can vary quite a bit in quality from region to region, and the flavor seems to be dependent on growing conditions more so than for most varieties. Don't give up on it after one test. This one is definitely worth pursuing.