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Oct 16, 2008 02:40 PM

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!