Any way to ID a mealy apple BEFORE biting into it?
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.