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What are your favorite apple varieties, for pie and for straight eating?

The post about the apple pie "goof" got me jonesing for apple pie (not that that's hard to do). So I am sitting here now wondering, what varieties of apples do you all prefer, both for pies and for eating plain?

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  1. For pie, Rhode Island Greening. Hard to find outside of New England but I won't touch anything else at this point. For eating apples, Ginger Gold is a new found favorite. Basically, if it is off the tree, I'm in.

    Apples have become so disappointing! Even here in SW Ohio, there was a time you could get great russets, winesaps and macintosh. Now, it seems that all taste the same and none have the texture I remember.


    5 Replies
    1. re: Ernie Diamond

      Ernie, I'm not sure where you are in SW Ohio, but there are several great orchards near Dayton. Frank's Fruit Farm, on Kemp Rd, is closed for the season now (open from Jul - Nov), but I buy all kinds of fresh apples there and great unpasterized cider. There's another, Pfieffer Orchard on SR 68, just outside Yellow Springs, open until 31 Dec, which has wonderful fresh apples and cider as well; they keep them in cold storage and they're much better than the grocery store.

      1. re: Niki in Dayton

        I'm in Cincy.

        There are still places here where I can get them off the farm, but they don't seem to be as good as they were when I was a kid. Maybe I am misremembering.

        1. re: Ernie Diamond

          I know what you mean. The ones I got at the Greenmarket in NYC this year were not up to snuff - too much rain over the summer=larger apples with less flavor. Quite disappointing.

      2. re: Ernie Diamond

        I just discovered Newtown pippins. Great for baking AND eating. It's a firm apple so I wouldn't recommend for applesauce or apple butter. But my god the flavor is delightful.

        1. re: Dcfoodblog

          i *adore* everything about Pippins - flavor, texture, size, versatility...even consistency of quality. i've had the occasional bad or disappointing apple of all sorts - Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Arkansas Black, HoneyCrisp (you get the idea) - but i've never had a Pippin that wasn't great. definitely my favorite apple variety.

      3. At this time of year I would use a granny smith for a pie. I don't know the "Gee Whiz" brand. Not tart and crisp enough for me.

        When it is apple season I am very lucky to work two blocks from a fabulous farmer's market. Then I get RI Greening for the Thanksgiving pie. For eating Braeburne and Lady Apples are my favorite.

        1. Empire apples for eating. Crunchy, sweet and tart.

          2 Replies
          1. re: rochfood

            I agree with the Empire apples for eating. Especially the really dark red ones. The perfect balance of flavor. I also like honeycrisp.

            For pie, I have had good results with the America's Test Kitchen recipe where you do Granny Smith and Macintosh mixed together. You get the firmness of the Granny Smiths while the Macintoshes cook down to an applesauce consistency.

            1. re: AmyH

              I, too, like the Granny Smith/Mac combo for apple pie. I use about 2/3 Granny Smiths to 1/3 Macs. My go-to recipe is one for a Sauteed Apple Pie that was published a number of years ago in the NYTimes. It calls for 5 pounds of apples (a pain to peel and core, but well worth it) which are sauteed and lightly caramelized before being spooned into the crust. The Granny Smiths hold their shape so the apples mound high (no space between top crust and apples) and the Macs cook down and add marvelous flavor as well as balancing out the texture of the Granny Smiths.

              Here's a link to the recipe if anyone is interested (need to scroll to the next page):

          2. Granny Smiths, Winesaps, HoneyCrisps, Braeburns, sometimes Jonathans. All for pies and for eating. I don't like watery apples that fall into mush in pies (like Macintosh).

            And Red Delicious should just be banned outright. Nothing like what they were 40 some-odd years ago. They *used* to be tasty.

            1 Reply
            1. re: LindaWhit

              "And Red Delicious should just be banned outright. Nothing like what they were 40 some-odd years ago. They *used* to be tasty."
              amen to that! i can't remember the last time i had a a Red Delicious that wasn't flavorless and/or mealy. it's been years.

            2. My favorite apple for pie is Cortland - the apples are big, crisp and cook well in pies. If Cortlands aren't available I will use Granny Smith.

              My fave eating apples are McIntosh, which get a little too soft in pies, and Granny Smith.

              1. Pie: Cortland
                Eating: I only like Macoun for eating but the season is so short.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bakerboyz

                  Macouns are my favorite eating apple.

                  For baking I prefer Granny Smiths, though I'll use them in combination with Northern Spy apples and Macouns if I get a 1/2 bushel of Macouns and can't eat them all.

                2. I like Jonagolds for pie, and Honeycrisp for eating..

                    1. re: lollya

                      You hit the nail on the head. The Pinks and the Honeycrisp retain their snap even when baked. My children take them to school every day, and I can cut them in slices put them in a small baggy and they do not turn brown. We have a farmers market in San Diego and one of the vendors has very good pink lady's.

                      1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                        tritto! my 2 favorites. Love the pinks, in particular.

                        1. re: Budino

                          :) nhf, budino, doug. growing up i wasn't much a fan of apples - i had only tried the regular old reds and greens. i liked the greens but they hurt my tummy. pink lady's are my first choice, i love a honeycrisp but they are always priced up so high.

                          seriously, i almost died when i grab 8 apples for pie (no pl's) and it was almost $10.

                          and it's the only food i've craved so far while being pregnant. i could eat 2 at a time!

                      2. re: lollya

                        Another vote for the same here.

                        The only apple tree planted in my own yard is Honeycrisp, because I don't know of any better raw eating apple.

                        But when I can't get them, Pink Lady (a.k.a. Cripps Pink) is my favorite.

                        1. re: lollya

                          I agree lollya. I love Honeycrisps and Pink Lady's.

                        2. I love Granny Smiths for eating & for pie. I grew up on McIntosh, but I don't like them anymore. Not sure if they have changed, or if I have. Red Delicious apples have been my least favorite apple forever.

                          1. Sierra Beauties.
                            We are lucky to get them from Philo, CA a good part of the year.

                              1. re: laliz

                                I did a taste test of 25 apple varieties earlier this year. What a blast that was!

                                I like Liberty (seldom seen but deliciously sweet-tart), Mutsu, Suncrisp, Honey Crisp, Grimes Golden and Pink Lady for eating.

                                For baking Granny Smith, Empire, Autumn Crisp....anything tart really.

                                Red Delicious are not apples.

                              2. Washington State honeycrisps are beyond compare for eating. Been having at least one a day of late.

                                1. For cooking - Bramley or Howgate Wonder if I want puree, Granny Smith if I want to hold shape.

                                  For eating - Egremont Russet, James Grieve or Cox - and Worcester Pearmain on the rare occasions it's available.

                                  14 Replies
                                  1. re: Harters

                                    You must be in the UK...? I would be sooo happy if I could find Egremont russets, or indeed, any russet apples at all. I love russet apples but the only source I know is a friend who has an old tree. The growers in the U.S., even with small orchards, rarely seem to grow them any more.

                                    1. re: visciole

                                      Indeed I am in the UK - North Cheshire.

                                      Supermarket had large stocks of russets this morning.

                                      1. re: Harters

                                        Lucky you! We occasionally score some from the friends' tree, and they are delicious, spicy and crisp, with a vanilla perfume. Great eating apples. I don't know the particular type of russet they are, but they're wonderful.

                                        It's really too bad that so comparatively few apple varieties are available in the U.S., even if you live in apple-growing country.

                                        1. re: visciole

                                          It's generally the same here - particularly in the supermarkets. You'll see that, even in the British harvest/storage season, there's imports from New Zealand or America. Madness.

                                          1. re: visciole

                                            Are you serious re: there being so few apple varieties in the U.S.? Per one site, there are over 100 varieties cultivated in the U.S.; unfortunately, only 15 of them account for 90% of the production. Another site (usapples.org) says there are over 2500 varieties cultivated in the U.S. (out of over 7500 worldwide).

                                            Granted, the supermarkets tend to have only maybe 4-6 varieties, so no one is going to have access to 2500 varieties of apples. But if you're near any decent apple-growing area (I'm in New England) you can often find lots of different apples at the orchards, including those that aren't sold in the supermarkets. Roxbury Russets are grown and sold by several orchards near me. Their season is rather brief, so you have to hit it right (and I've been "off" these past few years so I still haven't found the Russets in my area before they're gone!)

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              There is an abysmal selection of varieties in most supermarkets near me; and a decent selection at most farm stands/orchards; but I have never seen russet apples anywhere in the past number of years. Maybe I've just come at the wrong time for them; now I'm going to start asking around, since you guys have got me jonesing for them.... next year!

                                              1. re: visciole

                                                My understanding is that the local orchards to me have the Russets late in the season - late October and early November. And they don't always have them - if they say they do on their website, call them to be sure.


                                                Some help to find those orchards in your area. Merry Christmas to you. :-)

                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                Linda, which orchards sell Roxbury Russets? I've always wanted to try them--I can only find Golden Russets, which are interesting but a little too sweet and soft for me.

                                                I don't know where you are, Visciole, but I second the nice variety of apples at New England farmers' markets. Earlier in the season, I love Macouns best (and Macintosh at the very start of their season before they get mushy). My most favorite later on are Baldwins and Stayman Winesap. I'm too lazy to make pie, but for crisp, I just throw in whatever apples are lying around losing their crispness.

                                                1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                  I saw them listed on Cider Hill Farms' site, I believe, but they didn't seem to have them this year. Also I *believe* Russell Farms in Ipswich had them listed when I went there in late September? Too early for me to pick them up when I was there, though.

                                                  Bolton Orchards also grows/sells them http://www.boltonorchards.com/pages/h... although I've not been out there - oh wait - I just re-read your post - Bolton only sells Golden Russets.

                                                  Ahh - check out this link at All About Apples: http://www.allaboutapples.com/orchard... Meadowbrook Farm in Sterling sells them. Several other orchards list them as just "Russet". I do know that Wilson Farms sometimes gets them in from various NH orchards (since their main growing site is in NH as well).

                                            2. re: Harters

                                              Thought folk on the western side of the pond might like to see one of our local fruit farms (about 30 miles from me on the other side of the county). They grow about 15 varieties and turn most of the crop into juice - although in season, they have apples for sale from their farm shop. This is always good fun as they have samples so you can try before you buy.


                                              There's another farm a couple of miles from there which also has a large range of soft fruit in the summer (strawberries, raspberries and the like). They also sell juice but also turn it into cider (which is always an alcoholic drink in the UK).

                                              1. re: Harters

                                                I think based on the descriptions, I'd *really* like the Chivers Delight, Crispin, Egremont Russets and Melrose apples. I love that there are so many kinds of crispy, tasty apples out there!

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  I'm so jealous! I would love to have the selection you all seem to be sharing. I just finished a rome. I love apples, but they must be crisp and juicy. We seem to ger a run on apples that have been sitting in storage too long. Mushy apples are sinful.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    Crispin = Mutsu. Bolton Orchard (MA) grows Melrose, according to a copy of their list that I picked up a few years ago.

                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                      Ahh, thanks on the Crispin = Mutsu...those I've had from Russell Farms this year. And good to know Bolton carries Melrose - will try NEXT year. :-)

                                          2. For eating, I like Cameos - rich, sweet and very crisp; keeps well in the fridge for a long time. for a lighter taste - Senshus

                                            1. Pies: Northern Spies, hands down.
                                              Eating: Braeburn, Spies
                                              Lost to the sands of time: the magnificent Lobo, large and flattened in shape, crisp but loose texture, juicy, acid-sweet. Wish I could get my hands on these again.

                                              1. Pies/Crisps: Granny Smith, Cortland, Rome, Empire, Braeburn, Honeycrisp (at least 2-3 varieties in a pie, but just one will do for an Apple Crisp).

                                                Eating: Honeycrisp, Winesap, Gala

                                                All mealy, watery, insipid apples OFF the shelves!

                                                1. My childhood home was built in a former apple orchard. We had Golden Delicious, Winesap, and Rome trees in the yard. I always picked the fallen apples from the lawn before cutting the grass. Apple dishes were a regular part of my childhood meals.

                                                  My cooking prerferences are: Jonathan, Rome, and Granny Smith - in that order.

                                                  My current eating favorite is Honeycrisp, which I discovered at Trader Joe's this year. A five pound bag for $4.99 caused me to try them and the whole family is now addicted.

                                                  1. I became an avid apple eater this year after the first run with flu and bacterial pnumonia. They just were something my body craved. Ive always loved Granny Smith, but I started eating different apples looking for a sweeter apple that was crunchy and juicy. Ambrosia apples which might be the Honey Crisp, is my favorite. Another one called Jazz, which was crunchy, slightly sweet was nice too. I've not tried baking any of these other than the Granny Smith, which is what I use for pie.

                                                    1. Baking: Granny Smith, Rome
                                                      Eating: Arkansas Black, Liberty
                                                      Cider: Rome + Liberty

                                                      1. Apples are very cheap this year
                                                        Try the organic ones at Target for only $2.99/3lb bag
                                                        Gala and Fuji are my favorite from Target's organic selection and any apples
                                                        Cheapest organic apples I've seen in years
                                                        Non organic are also dirt cheap....
                                                        In the area of $2.00/3lb bag

                                                        1. I've found in east Tennessee that Arkansas Blacks are great keepers and productive even in drought. Good strong apple flavor.
                                                          I was surprised that a friend in southern California also swears by the quality of Arkansas Blacks in his yard.
                                                          This is a strong hint to plant your own apple trees.

                                                          1. For Christmas I made a lot of apple cranberry sauce with English Bramleys. It was fabulous. Had previously made it with some eating apples and not as good. Now planning on making some apple/cranberry crisp, probably with Granny Smith with is what the recipe recommended

                                                            Agree with Harters on his apple recommendations.