What Apples Are Best For Applesauce
Applesauce isn’t just good to eat — it can also be used in a wide range of delicious recipes, from pancakes to omelets to muffins. It’s an easy-to-make, versatile fruit that you can enjoy on its own or pair with other foods like cheese or yogurt. And the best part is that there are many different types of apples available, which means no matter what season or time of year you want your applesauce, there’s one perfect apple for the job. Here we’ll explore what makes each type of apple ideal for certain uses.
The most common way people make their own applesauce is by cooking whole apples until they break down into pulp. This method works well if you’re after thick sauce for baking or pancakes, as the flavor and texture will stay consistent throughout. However, for more delicate flavors, such as salads or pureed soups, juicing is often preferred, since this allows the juice to retain all of its nutrients.
If you’ve never made your own apple sauce before, consider buying organic apples from local farmers who don’t spray pesticides on their crops. You may even find some varieties that aren’t sprayed at all. Some organic apples have been shown to contain higher levels of antioxidants than nonorganic ones.
Next, let’s take a look at how the different apple varieties work best when it comes to making applesauce.
Which Apple Varieties Make The Best Applesauce?
When choosing apples for your homemade applesauce, try to select those that are firm and free of bruises and blemishes. Look for uniformly colored skin without any moldy spots; avoid apples with green stems, as these tend to give off too much water during preparation. If possible, store your apples in paper bags rather than plastic because air circulation helps keep produce fresher longer. Once cut open, refrigerate your apples immediately to prevent spoilage.
Now that we know which apples are best for picking, let’s get into what kind of applesauce you should be looking to create. There are two main categories of apples: sweet and tart. Sweet apples include Fuji, Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Gala and Honeycrisp, while Tart apples include Braeburn, Macoun, Gravenstein and Pink Lady. Each has unique characteristics that lend themselves to specific uses, whether it be eating raw, saucing, cooking or blending. Let’s start with the sweeter varieties.
Golden Delicious – A favorite among chefs, Golden Delicious are large, juicy and extremely flavorful. They make a fantastic base for both sweet and savory dishes, and are equally effective when cooked alone or blended with other fruits. With a mild taste, Golden Delights hold up well under heat and won’t become overly mushy. These popular apples are known for having high sugar content, making them excellent for tossing into granola bars and breads.
Granny Smith – A strong, tart apple with a crispy exterior, Granny Smiths are slightly tangy yet full flavored and very hardy. Their bright red color adds vibrancy to anything you add them to, and they’re especially popular in pies and cakes. Although they do not have much natural sweetness, Granny Smiths pick up the flavor of whatever ingredients they come in contact with, making them a go-to for savory pastas and casseroles.
Red Delicious – Red Delicious are another popular choice among chefs and home cooks alike. Smooth and round, these apples have a wonderful balance between sweet and tart, plus they pack a nutritional punch with vitamins C and B6. The majority of Red Delicious apples sold today are actually yellowish-green due to over-ripeness, so read labels carefully. When selecting Red Delicious, look for apples that feel heavy for their size and are free of bruising. Store these apples in a paper bag at room temperature to maintain freshness.
On the next page, learn why Cortlandt Islanders are considered the original applejack.
Cortlandt Islander – Also known as the “original” applejack, the Cortlandt Islander was first cultivated in New York state around 1790. Its large size and rich flavor helped the apple achieve fame across America. Today, Cortlandt Islanders are still grown in New York State, and they were recently named the official state apple. These plump beauties are less prone to bruising than other apples, making them a reliable option for making apple butter.
Health Benefits of Apples – Despite being naturally low in calories and fat, apples offer significant health benefits. One cup of sliced apples contains only about 100 calories, but packs plenty of fiber (2 grams) and vitamin C (100 percent daily value). In addition, apples provide potassium, manganese, magnesium, folate and copper. Eating an apple every day can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, improve vision, fight cancer and boost immunity.
Sweet versus Tasty: Which Kind Should You Use?
Before you purchase any particular apple, check out its flesh. Most apples fall into either the sweet or tart category, but there are a few overlap options. To see if an apple belongs in the sweet or tart camp, squeeze it gently along its length, then bite into the end — does it crumble apart easily? Or stick your thumb through the stem and pull out the core? If the answer is yes to both questions, this apple is likely to be sweet. On the flip side, if the apple falls apart easily and doesn’t yield enough juice, it’s probably tart.
Although there are many varieties of apples, they’re often grouped together based on similar qualities. Take a look at our list below for some of the top choices.
Fuji – Fuji apples are small and round, with thin, waxy skins. They have a slight tannic acid smell and are mildly acidic. Though they have a lower glycemic index than other apples, they’re still quite sweet, and make a great snack. Because of their small size, they’re not recommended for freezing.
Gala – Another member of the All American group, Gala apples are medium sized, with dark red skin and a creamy yellow rind. Like Fuji apples, they have a low glycemic index and are mildly acidic, making them suitable for snacking. These apples are very popular for making apple pie filling because of their distinct aroma and flavor.
Honeycrisp – Similar to Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp apples are a cross between a Northern Spy and Greening apple. They are smaller in size and crispier than Golden Delicious, with a deep orange-red hue and pale yellow rind. They’re also sweet, with a distinctive honeylike flavor. Honeycrisp apples make a great addition to salads, and are a must-have ingredient for creating new desserts.
Braeburn – Braeberries are a cross between a Macintosh and Red Delicious apple, resulting in a larger, firmer apple. They have a deep crimson color with a smooth, dense texture and mild flavor. While Braeburns are relatively soft, they hold up well under heat and have a low glycemic index.
Macintosh – The Macintosh apple originated in Ontario, Canada, where growers developed them specifically for cold weather. Nowadays, most of us think of these apples as the quintessential “apples for dessert” type. Not surprisingly, these apples are also popular for cider production. They’re medium in size, with light brown skin and a golden rind. Slightly sweet, they’re great for salads, though their intense flavor might overwhelm some recipes.
Rome Beauty – Rome Beauty apples are a cross between a Red Delicious and Jonathan apple. They are medium sized with a smooth, glossy sheen and reddish-amber rind. They are fairly sour compared to other apples, but once cooked, they acquire fruity notes.
Pink Lady – The pink blush on the outside of this apple gives away its name, as the rosy hue lends itself perfectly to garnishing cakes, salads and cocktails. The inside is white, however, and lacks flavor.
Mutsu – Originating in Japan, Mutsu apples are medium in size with a velvety-smooth skin. These apples are harvested early in order to prolong storage life, and are usually found in Asian markets. They are sweet and mild with a hint of cinnamon.
Pixie – Pixie apples are tiny, oblong and highly aromatic. They’re great for salads and snacks. Like Braeburns, pixies are fairly soft, so they need to be eaten soon after purchasing.
To sum it up, applesauce is a tasty treat that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with other foods. Whether you’re using them for breakfast, lunch or dinner, knowing which apple varieties work best in various situations will ensure you always get the tastiest results.
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