Don’t you just hate it when you spend money on apples and get home to find that they’re overripe? Worse yet, they were too sour for your taste or just bland.
There are actually more than 7,500 varieties of apples out there with varying levels of sweetness and tart flavor.
Now, before we point fingers at our local grocery stores and orchards, here are a few tips to help pick out apples that meet your specific tastes and needs. Then check out the mouth-watering recipes for a few common apples after that!
How to pick apples from trees
#1 Select ripe fruit
The first step is to select what fruits you’ll pick in the first place. Focus on the apples on the outer sides of the tree as they have better access to sunlight so they’ll ripen faster than those closer to the middle of the tree.
You should also inspect each apple to make sure it is firm and doesn’t have any bruises.
Keep in mind that apples don’t ripen much further after they’ve been picked. This means if you pick unripe fruit, the taste won’t improve. So choose wisely.
#2 Hold the apples in the palm of your hand
A common mistake people make when picking apples is grabbing the apples with their fingers. The pressure caused by picking apples using your fingers increases the chances of bruising them.
What you need to do is grab apples by the palm of your hand for a softer yet firm grip as you pick them.
#3 Twist the apple outwards
Do not pull or yank the apples from their branches. This may damage the tree branches, affecting future apple production, or cause unpicked apples to fall onto the ground prematurely.
With the apple firmly in your palm, gently twist it to one side. If it’s ripe, it’ll come off easily without affecting the tree or other unpicked apples.
#4 Gently place your apples in a basket
Tossing apples into a crate or basket may lead to bruising. To avoid them banging into each other as you pick them, place each apple gently into your basket.
Remember, bruising your apples makes them decompose fast.
#5 Use a step ladder
Apple pickers are convenient but very hard to control. When using them to pick apples, it’s easy to bruise your fruit or damage the tree branches.
A simple step ladder will give you better access to higher-placed fruit, so you can properly pick them without bruising them or the tree branches.
How to select the best apples from grocery stores
If you don’t have the time to drive out to an apple orchard, buying apples from your local grocery store or supermarket is your best choice for finding fresh apples.
Keep in mind that the color of apples isn’t always an accurate indicator of flavor. Here’s what to look for in your apples.
#1 The apple’s firmness
Examine each apple by picking it up and gently pressing it to gauge its firmness. A good apple should feel firm under your fingers. If it’s soft, visibly discolored, and dents easily when you apply pressure, chances are that it has started to decompose and won’t taste that good.
#2 Signs of bruising and decay
Some markings on apples are natural and shouldn’t alarm you. What you don’t want is bruising and visible decay.
Examine the entire apple to make sure you only pick perfect apples.
#3 The apple’s color
Color alone isn’t enough to tell whether an apple is good or not.
However, with red apples, full color is a sign that the apple had access to enough sunlight and will probably have a stronger flavor.
#4 The apple’s scent
Fresh apples have a sweet aroma. It varies across apple varieties, with some like Gala apples having very strong scents.
How to store your apples
Properly stored, apples can last for weeks without losing flavor or going bad. Your best bet would be the fridge, especially if you have more apples than you can consume in a few days.
Apples emit a gas that makes other vegetables spoil faster. To avoid this, store your apples in a compartment away from other vegetables. If you want to save your apples for a few months, the best way is to slice them up and put them in your freezer. This will preserve their flavor for future baking.
5 types of apples and how to turn them into delicious meals
#1 Honeycrisp Apples
Honeycrisp apples can simply be described as crunchy and sweet.
One important note is the price. They tend to be more expensive than most varieties. Their trees are harder to grow and give a smaller yield of fruits every season.
However, their flavor easily makes up for the price. They maintain their firmness in baking which makes them perfect for making pies.
Honeycrisp Apple Pie
Start by making the heart of the pie with white and brown sugar, ginger cinnamon, tapioca, nutmeg, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and apples.
Here’s the full list of ingredients according to ButterandAir:
“3 lbs (6-7 medium) honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 TB brown sugar
1 TB tapioca flour/powder 2 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp ground ginger 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg 1/2 tsp kosher salt
zest from one lemon
1 TB fresh lemon juice
heavy cream or beaten egg, for brushing
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on the crust (optional)”
After you’ve mixed it all, you’ll pour the resulting mixture into a pie plate lined with pastry dough.
Finish it off by covering it all with pastry dough, brushing it over with cream, and sprinkling raw sugar over the top.
After 60 minutes of baking at 375 degrees, you should have a golden-brown crust with a thick and bubbly delicious filling.
#2 Gala Apples
These are noticeably smaller in size than most apple varieties in the U.S. Gala apples also have a very distinct and sweet aroma that pairs well with their crunchiness and sweetness.
Unfortunately, these do not hold well in baking. They are best eaten raw in dishes like salads. Gala apples are resistant to browning, so they look good in salads.
Gala Orchard Apple Salad
This is a fresh and zingy salad that uses sweet-tart apple cider, dried cranberries, and gala apples.
Combine sugar, vinegar, mustard, and apple cider in a bowl and then whisked together while gradually adding olive oil to make your salad dressing. The salad is then made of grated cheese, spring greens, and dried cranberries mixed in a different bowl.
1 cup freshly grated hard cheese like Swiss or Gruyere
½ cup dried cranberries”
The salad dressing is poured onto the salad and the ingredients tossed gently.
Just before it’s served, slices of Gala apples are thrown in to complete the salad. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to whip up together.
#3 Granny Smith Apples
They have a very firm texture accompanied by tart flavor. Granny Smith apples are famous for their ability to hold well in an oven.
Also, their tart flavor makes them perfect for people who would rather opt out of overly sweet pastries and treats.
Macaroon Apple Cobbler
You’ll start by placing thin slices of peeled apples in a pie plate and sprinkling a mixture of sugar and cinnamon over it. Next, you’ll make a cream topping out of cream butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
Here is the complete list of ingredients according to TasteofHome:
“4 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder”
Add the resulting cream into a mixture of flour and baking powder and blend it. Add the blended mixture into your pie plate and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.
The result should have a golden brown top with soft and tender fruit inside.
#4 Empire Apples
Unlike most varieties that swing between the extremes sweet and tarty, these strike a balance between the two.
They also have a firm texture that holds in baking. They are perfect for people who don’t like their treats too sweet or too sour.
Apple Butterscotch Crisp
You’ll start by placing thin slices of peeled apples in a slow cooker. Next, make a crumbly mixture by mixing brown sugar, cinnamon, pudding mix, oats, flour, and butter.
Here are the ingredient measurements according toTasteofHome:
“3 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (about 3 medium)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup cook-and-serve butterscotch pudding mix
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
Vanilla ice cream, optional”
Sprinkle the coarse mixture over your sliced apples for 3 to 3 ½ hours. It’ll be ready when your apple slices become tender.
Serve it with ice cream for a delicious treat.
#5 Braeburn Apples
Originally from New Zealand, these apples are crunchy and sweet but with a slightly tangy taste.
They are delicious when eaten raw but are just as good in baked goods because they hold their firm form.
Potluck German Apple Cake
For the cake, you’ll beat eggs, vanilla, oil, and sugar in a large bowl. Make a separate mixture of flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Add the result to the egg mixture and then add apples and nuts.