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What other apple varieties am I missing out on?

Based on a post here, I just recently tried honeycrisp apples for the first time.... Absolutely delicious! I had never even heard of this variety until I read the post (which had been revitalized from 2002). So what other delectable apple varieties am I missing out on?

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  1. Before I switched to Honeycrisp, my fave was Braeburn.

    1. Well, you don't live in apple orchard country, so I suspect you are going to be limited by what your supermarkets consider varieties they can sell in volume, which means you lose out on dozens of heirloom apple varieties and newer hybrids (the Honeycrisp is one of the latter).

      The orchards in eastern Massachusetts date back as far as the 1630s and many still have great old varieties that don't sell in supermarkets anymore (the customer is the loser for that one) as well as newer hybrids. Off the top of my head, here are apples I see in our orchards that don't darken the doors of supermarkets:

      Baldwin (was *the* great American apple for about a hundred years)
      Rhode Island Greening
      Jonathan (which begat many hybrids you *do* see in the supermarket)
      Winesap (aka Stayman Winesap)
      Russets (several sub-varieties) (the oldest (and to some tastes the best) American apple variety - the russet potato was named for it due to the rough skin)
      Pippins (several sub-varieties)
      Arkansas Black
      Melrouge (a new hybrid I am seeing a lot of in local orchards)
      SunCrisp (ditto - cross between eastern Golden Delicious and Cox Orange Pippin)
      Northern Spy ("Spys for Pies!")
      Rome Beauty (the classic baking apple)
      Macoun (pronounced "Mac-o--un", not "Mac-oon") - though we tend to get this in our local supermarkets in the fall, it seem rarer outside of New England


      What you won't see on these lists are splendid hybrid varieties that are developed and the rights to which get bought up by agribusiness so that they are used for processed food and never sold retail to the public. My family in western NY has witnessed apple varieties being tried out and sold for a few years in local orchards, finding some fantastic apples that way, only to have them disappear when the rights are bought out.

      Apples, in case you don't know, are among the tree worlds marvels of hybridization. They are meant to hybridize.

      The English brought apples to the colonies and apples found America a perfect place. The reason apples were important was not for eating but for drinking - cider (natural, fermenting) was the dominant drink in the US until the advent of large breweries (people preferred to drink cider to water if they could for reasons having to do with pre-modern medical theories, et cet.) But I digress....

      1 Reply
      1. re: Karl S

        The Northern Spy is THE best pie apple, I swear!

      2. Macouns which I can find in supermarkets in MD. Great eating apple which I prefer to honeycrisp. Jazz apples are great too.

        2 Replies
        1. re: CDouglas

          Northern Spy's are delicious! We like to just eat them out of hand. Unfortunately, even in "apple" country (Michigan and northern Indiana), they are hard to come by and I have only found them once in 10 years and that was probably 9-10 years ago.

          1. re: CDouglas

            Yeah- Macouns are great. I like Cortlands a bit better, but I've had both off of the tree this year and wouldn't turn either one away.

            From the supermarket I like Gala and Fuji.

          2. pink ladies/cripps pink
            sweet sixteen
            chestnut crab
            haralson and red haralson

            1. If you are specifically looking for the CRUNCH like a Honeycrisp, there are not many that compare if you are looking for standard supermarket varieties. Fujis come close, and Mutsus are similar to a Fuji - although I prefer Fuji. I only write this becaue I know plenty of ppl (myself included) that judge an eating apple by its crunch. I will toss an apple after one bite if it has no crunch. Thus, I generally only eat Honeycrisps or Fujis. Most other varieties are only for baking, if you ask me. I'm sure there are plenty of varieties that are good for eating for other people, but they gotta be super crunchy for me. Fuji crunchy at minimum.

              1 Reply
              1. re: gordeaux

                Fuji apples are my favorite. To eat plain, tossed in salads - any way. They are sweet yet tart and hard and crunchy. Yum!

              2. I used to be happy with red delicious apples. Or Fuji apples.
                Now, it is honeycrisp.

                Granny Smith apples, sliced and dipped in caramel.

                1. We buy Pink Lady's at our farmers market. I pre cut them for my daughter and put them in a small zip lock and remove the air and they do not turn brown. The color is a sticking point for my daughter. They are sweet and not too tart. btw we are in San Diego.

                  1. I grew up in Seattle and every year our family would go to Eastern Washington to go apple picking...My favorite find was the Winter Banana apple. If you can find them anywhere, try them out...


                    1. JonaGold apples are consistently the flavor winner. A hybrid of tart Jonathan and sweet Golden Delicious. Really gets the juices flowing.

                      BTW, Stayman apples were derived from Winesap. Basically the same apple but Stayman is the 'improved' version. Far more Stayman's are grown now, but you can still get Winesaps, and there is a slight difference.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Steve

                        When I lived back East, I used to buy Stayman-Winesaps. Are these the same as Staymans, since they originate from Winesaps? BTW, I love both of them.

                        1. re: nofunlatte

                          They are the same but different. Once upon a time, there was no Stayman, only Winesap, and Winesap apples are still around. But they engineered the Winesap and came up with the Stayman, which I believe pretty much tastes the same but is easier to grow. Many times you will see them advertised as if they were the same thing and interchangeable. But I've never done any kind of side by side tasting.

                          1. re: Steve

                            So we are talking about two types of apples, not three (Stayman, Winesap, and Stayman-Winesap). In either case, they are delicious!

                            1. re: nofunlatte

                              No, only two I believe, the designation Stayman-Winesap is simply advertising. It's like saying "whatever you call it."

                              1. re: Steve

                                Thanks for the clarification, Steve!

                                1. re: Steve

                                  Stayman Winesap originated as a chance seedling in Kansas, believed to be a cross between Stayman and Winesap. Sources vary on year from 1866 to 1875. Most apples require a second variety as a pollinator. Winesap does not pollinate other apples and is a rather late bloomer, which complicates orchard layout.

                                  Trees of Antiquity (http://www.treesofantiquity.com/index...) supplies trees for many uncommon fruits.
                                  Winesap (original):
                                  Stayman Winesap:

                        2. Anyone seen or tried Crispin(sp?) ? I heard that it is a super crisp and juicy apple, but I haven't seen it in Manhattan. I am very interested to know where I can get it!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: kobetobiko

                            Crispin is also called Mutsu - in the Northeast, you are more likely to find it called Mutsu. Common in orchards in Massachusetts.

                            1. re: kobetobiko

                              I believe Crispin is another name for Mutsu. It (under any name) is a tasty apple.

                            2. I have to give a shout out to NY state apples since they are my absolute favorites and I cannot get them anywhere where we live now so I'm going into apple withdrawal this year. My most favorite is Empire but I love a MacIntosh for applesauce. I'm so surprised to hear so many people who are fans of Winesap apples. To each his/her own, but they are at the bottom of my list with Red Delicious. I second the fans of Macoun as well. Yum. I am coming around to northwest apples and have grown to love the Honeycrisp. But my heart lies with NY apples.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: upstate girl

                                Ambrosia, a relatively new variety from BC, is an excellent eating apple - sweet, low-acid, and aromatic (almost floral). It's probably not as ubiquitous as Honeycrisp, however.


                                1. re: upstate girl

                                  I second the emotion on Empire apples. They are crisp, sweet and firm. i use them for applesauce and apple crisp. I am sorry you are out of the Empire range. :<

                                2. I happen to like very sour apples, but I cannot find them anymore. Granny smiths are probably as sour as you can get. I have a memory of eating small sour apples off a large bush as a small child. I want to know if I made up that memory or if such a variety actually exists. It was growing in a neighbor's backyard.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: MartinDC

                                    I had the Arkansas Black a few years back but haven't seen them since. They were so dark, they truly looked black. The Arkansas Blacks that I bought were hard as a rock but I remember that I liked the flavor very much.

                                    1. re: MartinDC

                                      While not fully sour, Pippins are hard and on the tart side. I miss the Albermarle Pippins I used to get when I was in college a generation ago.

                                      Here's an orchard with lots of heirloom varieties near the Blue Ridge


                                    2. I went to an apple tasting this weekend (Portland, OR) and walked away with a few new favorites.

                                      The big winner was: Elstar. It's a really lovely, mostly firm apple with a pretty complex flavor. The Rubinettes were a close second (also very complex and very firm - which I like). Next in line were Spitzenbergs and the Mutsus.

                                      Sadly, the Elstars were sold out and it seems the Rubinettes are difficult to grow. :-(
                                      But if you can track them down, they are worth your while.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: sebetti

                                        My husband grew up on an apple orchard and remembers Baldwins with fondness. I've been buying Ginger Golds and Honeycrisp at the local NH farmstand but I think the season for Ginger Gold was a bit earlier. This was a great year for apples. My hairdresser had great apples this year on a tree in her yard that they don't take care of. She didn't know the variety. At the supermarket I will buy Fuji. My husband prefers Macouns fresh from the tree.