Fall for Apples: What’s Best for Cooking, Eating, and Baking

Fall for Apples: What’s Best for Cooking, Eating, and Baking


Apples are a favorite fruit of almost everyone and in fact, Americans consume 44 pounds of apples per person, each year. Most apples are grown and harvested in the states of Washington, New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, but they are also grown in every state of the country. In the United States (US), most apples are harvested in the fall, but they are enjoyed year-round because they are sturdy and store well. Hundreds of varieties of apples exist, and each one is unique. Most people have a favorite kind, and their characteristics are as diverse as their appearances. This quick guide can help you figure out which apples to use for cooking, eating, and baking.

Apples are healthful. The average apple, which is about 1 cup (C) quartered, 125 gram (g), or tennis ball sized, has 65 calories, 3 g fiber, and 10% of daily requirements for vitamin C and is also high in vitamin K, vitamin B6, and potassium. Apples are satisfying and pair well with almost anything. They are enjoyed in countless ways—baked and sliced in pancakes, cubed in fruit salad, served with peanut butter or cheese, baked in the oven, paired with pork, and made into apple pie.

Apples are best consumed when harvested between late August and October. They store well until the middle of the winter, but do lose some of their nutritional value with time.

Follow these tips when selecting apples:

  • Look for apples that have good color and smell fresh
  • Avoid apples with bruises or damage to their skin (brown or dry spots on the apple do not affect flavor and are acceptable to eat)
  • Store apples unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
  • Store apples separately from cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage
  • Do not allow apples to have contact with lettuce, cucumbers, or greens, because apples give off a gas that will speed up the deterioration of these vegetables
  • Use apples to help ripen fruits such as pears, peaches, and plums by placing the unripened fruit in a bag with an apple—the gas given off from the apple will help to ripen the under-ripened fruit


Popular varieties and best uses:

The following guide will help you determine the best use for different varieties of apples.

Baldwin: Known for its tartness and crisp texture, this all-purpose apple is great for baking

Cortland: Tart and crisp, these apples do not brown readily and are great in salads. They also hold their shape well during baking.

Empire: A hybrid of McIntosh and Red Delicious, this apple is sweet, crisp, and firm. It is best used raw and in salads.

Gala: Mild, sweet, crisp, and juicy, this apple is best eaten raw. It is the most popular fresh apple in the nation.

Golden Delicious: Mild and sweet, this juicy apple is an all-purpose apple that is easy to use. You can eat it any way, and it is good for baking.

Granny Smith: This bright green apple is tart, crisp, and hard. It holds its shape well during baking, but is also great in salads or eaten by itself.

Honey Crisp: This is becoming one of the most popular fresh eating apples ever grown, and although production has tripled over the past 3 years, supply cannot keep up with demand. They have a crisp, firm texture, lots of juice, and the flavor is a nice mix of slightly tart with honey-like sweetness.

Ida Red: Tart, crisp, and firm, this apple stores very well and is good for all-purpose use.

Jonagold: A hybrid of Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples, this apple has a sweet and tart flavor that goes well in pies and sauces.

Jonathan: Sweet and acidic, this apple is great for eating by itself, baking, and sauces.

Macoun: A McIntosh and Jersey Cross hybrid, this apple is tart and crisp. It is good for eating by itself, baking, and sauces.

McIntosh: Sweet, juicy, and less firm, these apples make great sauces and juices. They also are good in salads.

Northern Spy: Tart and delicate, this may be the best baking apple.

Red Delicious: One of the most famous varieties, this apple is best for eating by itself.

Rome Beauty: Sweet and firm, this apple holds its shape well during baking and cooking.

Reference and recommended reading

2014 U.S apple production and consumption facts and figures. US Apple Association website. http://usapple.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/USAppleToolKit-Production-Consumption.pdf. Accessed August 29, 2016.

Apple varieties. Alton Orchards website. http://www.michiganfruit.com/apples2.htm. Accessed August 29, 2016

Apples and more. University of Illinois Extension website. https://extension.illinois.edu/apples/intro.cfm. Accessed August 29, 2016.

Contributed by Stacia Helfand, MEd, RD, CDN

Updated by Nutrition411.com staff

Review date: 9/2/16

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