Did you know there are more than 750 different types of apples in the world? At least 40 varieties are grown in Canada alone! So, what’s the difference between Fuji, Honey Crisp and Granny Smith? How do you know what to use to bake with, serve up raw or put into smoothies?
Not all varieties of apples are meant to be eaten straight off the tree or off the grocery store shelf. Some are meant for baking into pies or brewing into ciders while others are ideal for snacking or smoothies.
I’m here to arm you with the information you need before you grocery shop. Here’s a guide to SIX of the most popular apples that are currently ripe for picking in Ontario.
(From right to left in photo above.)
These are the go-to green apple of the bunch and are usually gleaming with vibrancy in grocery stores. They actually originated in Australia and are now available all over the world. They’re notorious for their super tart taste and firm texture. They’re great to eat on their own (I love pairing them with an old cheese) or to bake for a more tarte taste. They’re also great in desserts if you want to balance out your sweet flavours because they add a bit of a bite. If you’re concerned about blood sugar levels (diabetes) these are a great fruit option. They also give you a nice bit of energy so they’re a great pick-me-up snack.
The most interesting of them all (in my opinion), Honey Crisp apples are actually a modern, cultivated apple out of the University of Minnesota. They came to fruition around 1960 and quickly gained a following. They’re sweet like honey and typically cost double or triple other apples since they’re considered the first “brand name” fruit. Honey Crisp are sweet, juicy and bursting with flavour — perfect for eating as is, adding to salads or making into sauces.
These beauties, that have been around since 1840, are the ideal Fall fruit. They are as versatile as apples come and can be served raw or prepared in any way: baked, roasted, sautéed slow cooked and used in cider. They’re not as well-known as other apples but definitely deserve their turn in the spotlight.
They were developed in Japan and didn’t make their way to North America until the 1980s. Fujis are crisp, sweet and have a striped red-and-yellow skin. They’re actually made by crossing Red Delicious with Ralls Janet apples and are one of the most popular snacking apples! They’re available year round with their most popular season being Fall and Winter.
This is the millennial apple that came to market in the 1980s. It’s ideal for eating, baking and sauces offering a thin skin and a lovely sweetness.
If you’re looking for a creamy, softer apple, McIntosh are the apples for you. They’re perfect for applesauce or soup. In terms of flavour, they’re juicy and often tart-and. Since they’re a bit mealy in texture, I wouldn’t suggest baking with them.
Other popular apples in Canada include:
This apple is Canadian born and bred – originating as a cross between Cox’s Orange Pippin and Golden Russet in Kentville, Nova Scotia. It was created in 1932 and released in 1964. They’re cute little apples with a crisp, sweet and juicy flesh. Their commercial success has been hindered by their smaller size but they’re a great baking apple that’s ripe in fall and ready for picking.
Another popular fall apple in Canada are Ambrosia apples, which originated in British Columbia. They’re believed to be a cross between Golden Delicious and Jonagold. These apples are medium to large in size with golden-yellow peel with pink and red blushes.
The flesh is light yellow in color and its texture is crisp, tender, and juicy. The flavors are sweet with low acidity and notes of honey. Ambrosia apples are often used in for baking because of their sweetness, but they’re also ideal raw, sliced thinly and added to salads.
Other important apples in Canada include:
The key is to look for organic apples and choose ones that are grown locally.
If you have any questions about your food or recipes, let me know in the comments.