Any way to ID a mealy apple BEFORE biting into it?
- gatorfoodie Jan 9, 2009 11:37 AM
Does anyone have suggestions on how to pick out apples to make sure you don't get a mealy mess?
I've heard of pinching the skin to see if it feels loose or tapping it with your finger to listen if it sounds "hollow"...whatever a hollow apple sounds like.
Do these work? Any other methods / ideas?
That's usually my trick the "hollow" test. You'd be surprised if you get a good apple, tap it, then try it with an old one and you'll definitely be able to tell the difference. A good apple should be firm, no bruises, and solid.
I also find the type of apples sometimes make a difference. Like, I'm not really a fan of Delicious apples, but will buy them occasionally and most often I find those to be mealy. My new fave is Honeycrisp. Very juicy, good sweetness and, apple-y kind of fragrance. I understand they are now breeding them sweeter and sweeter though.
I refuse to eat a mushy apple. I throw them away after one bite if they are mushy or mealy, and I spit the bite out. I will never have to worry about an apple being mealy or mushy at my own house because the easiest way to avoid it is to only buy the varieties you like, and only buy them when they are in season. I only buy Fuji, Honeycrisp, and Mutsu, and only from fall until late winter. Fujis are avail year round, but they suck (comparatively) in summer. A lot of fruits are avail year round (thanks, Chile) - but you definitely know when they are "in season."
Let other people tap them or whatever. Apples have seasons,and there are all kinds of varieties. Some are bred to be mushy, some are bred to be super crunchy.
Choose your apple wisely, stay away from delicous and golden delicous as they tend to be mushy, go for gala or fuji, honey risp etc, much more firm and crispy.
The apple should be hard to the touch. But mostly, you should buy apples in season. We're so used to having apples in the store year-round that we've stopped thinking of them as seasonal, which of course they are. Buy U.S. apples and Southern Hemisphere apples in their season. Any other time of year the apple has been sitting in cold storage for a while and is likely to be either mealy, or, if bred specifically for storage, to be woody/flavorless. Sometimes you see New Zealand apples for sale right next to US apples -- they can't both be in season, so one of them is going to be from storage.
Finally, some varieties are better than others. Of the commonly available commercial varieties, Delicious apples, both red and golden, are mealy unless they're very fresh; Pippins and Granny Smiths keep their firmness much better. Beyond that there are dozens of other varieties whose pros and cons have been discussed extensively in other threads.
Where I live, even the "crispy" varieties are getting more and more mushy these days, although it is still a wiser bet to pick them. Some more crispy varieties that I like are the Macintosh, Pink Lady, and Russet.
I love biting into a refreshingly crunchy, sweet Red Delicious but it's been a very long time since I had one.
My trick to pick the crispy ones is to flick the apple with finger and listen for the hollow sound (versus a thud). In addition, I think storing them in the fridge helps keeping them crisp too.
Here's a really good site discussing how to select apples by variety.
One thing that hasn't been mentioned so far is that the apple should be heavy for its size. That is the real give away with a red delicious.
They mention that depending on variety the apples should have a shiny skin. I have to disagree with that somewhat. The more highly waxed an apple the more it is likely to be a dud. So, while the apple should look fresh, too shiny isn't a good thing.
HIghly agree about the smell test. If it is fragrant there shouldn't be a problem.
I never thought about the advice to choose an apple that has a stem. This old Chowhound post also says to check the blossom end
"It should be nice and tight with no signs of splitting, fuzz (mold), or discoloration. If it shows any of these signs, it is more likely to be mealy"
Other good tips from that thread
"You can also ask to speak with the produce manager and ask if the apples sold in the store are transported in trucks with ethylene filters ... Trucks/shipping containers that have the ethylene filtration system in place to circulate the air and oxidize the ethylene extend the "shelf life" of apples. Also look for apples shipped in boxes with the dimpled cardboard packing, which cradles each apple to create more space for air to flow."
I also agree about choosing yellow delicious apples that are a deep golden color and have intense fragrance. Never buy a plain yellow golden delicious ... it's called that for a reason.
The probelm with apples is they go mealy a few days if left unrefrigerated ... and just how often do you see supermarkets keeping apples in the cooler. They are left out in bins. At home, I always put apples in the crsiper section asap and keep them there.
Interesting info about apples stored in controled atmosphere rather than just refridgerated.
Apples lose moisture and by preventing respiration that they can be kept longer. They write "Ancient Egyptians learned this secret by placing fruit in limestone crypts"
Yum? Lacking a limestone crypt that makes me wonder if an apple wrapped in aluminum foil like celery or kept in a glass jar ... both methods slow respiration ... would keep significantly longer. Hmmm ... I'm going to have to test this out. There's an apple vendor near me where I can trust I'm buying fresh apples. I'll get back about this in a few months.