Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Apple of My Eye

back row, left to right: Empire, Honeycrisp, Cortland, Rome
middle row, left to right: Cripps Pink Lady, Fuji, Jonathan, McIntosh
front row, left to right: Gala, Jonagold, Braeburn, Jazz

One of my best first grade memories is sitting in a circle on the floor with my classmates and taste testing 10 or so different apple varieties. Such a simple activity and yet so fun and adventurous. Earlier this year, I was inspired by that memory and taste-tested different kinds of tangerines. Well, now it's apple season!

As I was trolling the fruit aisle at Sprouts I saw an abundance of apples and decided to get one of each variety. Well, mostly. I skipped the Red Delicious, Green Delicious, and Granny Smiths. They tend to be the most common ones, so I thought I'd just try the others. And really, twelve varieties was PLENTY. Though apparently there are over 7500 cultivars of apples in the world. One could make it a life mission to sample them all. Not me though, thanks.

Here are the ones I did get and what Wiki has to say about each:

Empire- (New York) Empire apples are red, juicy, firm, crunchy and sweet. Good for eating.

Honeycrisp- (Minnesota) Mottled red and yellow colour. Good crunch when in prime condition. Juicy. Hybrid of Keepsake and Unknown. Good for eating.

Cortland-  (New York) Pale crisp flesh. Classic red coloration, nice crunch. Cross between McIntosh and Ben Davis. Good for eating.

 Rome- (Ohio) Rounded, all red, and very glossy. Flavour develops when cooked. Good for cooking.

Cripps Pink Lady- (Australia) Crisp, very sweet and slightly tart. Light red, pink and light yellow-green striped skin. Good for cooking and eating.

Fuji- (Japan) Sweet, crisp, dense flesh. Very long shelf life, even without refrigeration. Japan's predominant eating apple. Good for eating.
 Jonathan- (New York) Tart taste. Mostly red apple with patches of lime green. Does well in cooler areas; some frost resistance. Good for eating and cooking.

McIntosh- (Ontario, Canada) A popular, cold-tolerant, pocket-sized eating apple in Canada and northeastern US. Favorite of children. Used alot in applesauce. Good for cooking and eating.

Gala- (New Zealand) Thinner skin. Very soft eating apple, well-suited for denture wearers. Good for eating.

Jazz- (New Zealand) Bright red round apple with subtle yellow under-striping. Tart to sweet, dense and very crunchy with effervescent texture. Good for eating.

Jonagold- (New York) Popular in Europe and land of origin. A very large apple. Several highly coloured strains are available. Good for eating and cooking.

Braeburn- (New Zealand)  Firm to the touch with a red/orange vertical streaky appearance on a yellow/green background. Dense apple, and becoming increasingly popular in the UK. Good for eating.

back row, left to right: Empire, Honeycrisp, Cortland, Rome middle row, left to right: Cripps Pink Lady, Fuji, Jonathan, McIntosh
front row, left to right: Gala, Jonagold, Braeburn, Jazz

Alright, now for the ratings!

Eating Experience+

***** awesome! Highly recommended.
**** hey, this is pretty dang good.
*** not bad at all.
** eh.
* bad. Keep looking for alternatives.

Empire **1/2
Honeycrisp ****
Cortland ****
Rome ***1/2
Cripps Pink Lady ***
Fuji ***
Jonathan **1/2
McIntosh **1/2
Gala ***
Jazz ***1/2
Jonagold **1/2
Braeburn ***

I like apples, but they are by no means my favorite fruit. And I have to say that 'apples' tend to taste like 'apples' to me. Not a huge difference in taste, though some are a little sweeter and some a little tangier. There can be, however, a significant difference in texture, crispness, and firmness. But this can even run from apple to apple, not just across varieties.

Red Delicious used to be my favorite apples when I was a kid. But in recent years, Red Delicious have had a watered down taste, very bland. I think farmers and scientists have messed with them too much.

Anyway, in this taste test, Rome was by far the prettiest of the apples with its deep red hue. Unfortunately, they were slightly soft. But Cortland was the big surprise, with an interesting, slightly tangy flavor. I liked it best for taste.
I highly recommend the Cortland and Honeycrisp for eating raw. In the past I have really liked the Fuji, though it didn't test as well this time, just average.

Even if you get a less than stellar batch of apples, all is not lost. Make PIE! Or cider, or applesauce, or juice, or Cinnamon Baked Apples. These days I like apple pies with a mix of different apple varieties. In yesterday's post you'll see the Garam Masala Apple Pie I made. It was really good.  I had the Rome, Braeburn, Jazz, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, and Gala in it, I think. And not that long ago I made a Dutch Apple Pie, so check that oen out too. For a future pie, I will consider mixing the Rome with Granny Smith and Cortland.


+Keep in mind that each single fruit is a completely different experience which also depends on where we are in the season. In other words, my results may be different from yours based on fruit condition, ripeness, etc.


Marie said...

That's so funny Red Delicious apples were my favorite when I was growing up, too. But I think that's because the only other apples I tasted as a kid were not very sweet. Honeycrisp apples are my favorite, now! Thank you for sharing the recipe for Garam Masala Apple Pie. Yours looks AMAZING!

Kenike said...

Do you think the Red Delicious really do taste differently now, or that taste buds and taste preferences have changed, or the other apples just happen to be superior?

The Garam Masala Apple Pie was delicious, one of my favorite pies in recent history. I don't actually eat pie that much. My pie-loving family would wince to hear that. haha.