Its longevity, ubiquity and popularity are proof enough that the apple is one of nature’s finest foods. Thanks to evolution and creative breeding, there are now more than 7,500 known varieties worldwide. In the U.S., about 100 are grown and sold commercially. Here are some of the most common varieties you’re likely to find year-round in your grocer’s produce section, but keep an eye out this time of year for more exotic ones, such as SweeTango, Junami, Green Dragon and Ambrosia.

honeycrisp apple1. HONEYCRISP

Bred by researchers at the University of Minnesota, it’s a cross between the Macoun and Honeygold varieties. Highly prized and often more expensive than other varieties.
SKIN: mottled red on yellow
FLAVOR/TEXTURE: mildly sweet, tart/crisp and juicy
BEST FOR: salads, sauce, pies, snacking

 

2. GRANNY SMITH

granny smith apples Originally from Australia and named for Maria Ann (Granny) Smith, who first cultivated the variety thought to be descended from French crab apples.
SKIN: shiny, bright-green
FLAVOR/TEXTURE: tart/crisp
BEST FOR: salads, pies, snacking

gala apple3. GALA

One of the more popular varieties in the U.S., it originated in New Zealand. Available almost all year.
SKIN: reddish-orange and yellow
FLAVOR/TEXTURE: sweet with a hint of vanilla/crisp
BEST FOR: salads and snacking, freezing

 

4. BRAEBURNbraeburn apple

Hailing from New Zealand and known as the all-purpose apple, it’s commercially available in the U.S. from September through June.
SKIN: red streaks on yellow
FLAVOR/TEXTURE: spicy-sweet/firm
BEST FOR: pies, salads, sauces, baking, freezing, snacking

 

golden delicious apples5. GOLDEN DELICIOUS

First “discovered” on a family farm in West Virginia, these grow year-round in a variety of climates.
SKIN: yellow
FLAVOR/TEXTURE: sweet, mild/smooth, dry
BEST FOR: pies, thanks to their thin skin

 

6. RED DELICIOUSred delicious

Easily the most recognized variety, it has a shape that’s been likened to a Coca-Cola bottle.
SKIN: waxy, deep red
FLAVOR/TEXTURE: mild/slightly gritty, firm
BEST FOR: salads, snacking, giving to teacher on the first day of class