The Best Apple
How to Get the Best Apple
Fruits are a healthy snack, a tasty addition to salads and other dishes, and often make wonderful desserts and sauces. Apples are one of the most popular fruits in this part of the world and easier to select than many other types of fruit to assure the most enjoyment.
Still there are several thousand types of apples so you may need a few tips on choosing the best apple, storing them, and more to get the best results.
When and Where to Find the Best Apple
Apples can be found in the produce section at the grocery store year round of course. If you're hunting for the best apple means a visit to an orchard however, the primary season in the US is from late September through March.
Apples are generally grown in cooler climates but most areas of the country boast at least a few orchards. For help in finding an apple orchard you can visit The Orchard Trail.
Of course another option is to grow your own. This article from "Southern Maryland, This is Living", outlines the basics of Growing Your Own Apples.
When choosing apples they should be firm and without "bruises" and soft spots.
How to Grow Apples
Keeping Apples Fresh
Although apples survive at room temperature, it's certainly best to refrigerate them after purchase to help preserve them. Ideally, they should be kept in a cripser drawer in a ventilated bag. In most instances, their flavor and texture is best if used within two weeks.
Care should be taken if choosing to store apples in a garage or basement. Fluctuating temperatures and humidity can be problematic. The apples should be kept dry and freezing temperatures or excessive heat can cause them to spoil. Regardless of the storage situation, any apples that show signs of spoiling should be discarded immediately.
Ideally, apples should not be cut before they are ready for use as they don't store well once the inner part of the apple is exposed. They'll turn brown rather quickly. Many people use a small amount of lemon juice to coat the exposed apple to slow this process.
Choosing the Best Apple
The best apple is the right apple for the job you'll be doing. In other words, the best apple for eating isn't always the right apple for baking and the best apple for apple sauce isn't always the right apple for a pie.
In general, some of the best apples for eating are Fuji and Red Delicious. Certainly however, Braeburn, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Gala, McIntosh, Empire, and Jonathan apples are also popular for this purpose as well.
When baking a pie, crisp, or something similar, common choices include Granny Smith, Rome, and Ida Red. Golden Delicious, Jonathan, McIntosh, and Empire apples are sometimes used as well. I personally avoid apples that are too sweet if I will be adding sugar to the recipe. Something a little more tart is a good choice.
For applesauce, Golden Delicious and sometimes Fuji apples are often recommended.
A Granny Smith apple tends to have a sour flavor while a McIntosh is more tart as is an Ida Red apple. Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome, and Empire apples are more sweet. I love Fuji apples also for their sweetness but don't personally like using them for baking although I've seen them recommended elsewhere for this purpose.
If you're interested in learning more about the uses for a wider variety of apples you can read more at the Pick Your Own site. Many published recipes will specify the type of apple recommended as well.
Working with Apples
Fresh produce, including apples can hide harmful bacteria. It's important to wash apples just prior to use with running water and a scrub brush. See this NPR article to learn more about using a vinegar solution as well. Once cleaned they should be dried and then peeled, cored or sliced using clean utensils.
Peelers and slicers are basic tools that can cut down on preparation time greatly. For those who do quite a bit of cooking with apples there are also peeler, slicer, corer gadgets that will perform all three functions easily and within 30 seconds or less. You can see a demonstration below.
An Apple Peeler (Corer and Slicer) in Action
A Traditional Apple Pie
One of my favorite apple pies can be found here. It's one of the few that doesn't taste simply like sugar or cinnamon. You can really taste the apples.