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