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Apples Apples Apples

Created January 10, 2017
Learn the best apples for pie, how to choose apple varieties, and get general tips for cooking with apples. MORE+ LESS-

Tips for Baking Apples

The number one fruit in America, apples are nutritious, versatile, portable and available year-round. Some apple varieties are sweet, some are tart and some are better than others for baking.

Here are some tips to help you choose, prepare and bake apples with ease!
  • Select apple varieties that are in season. If the apples are out of season, they may have been in storage and will not be as flavorful and juicy as fresh-picked apples.
  • Look for firm apples that have no bruises or bug holes.
  • Choose apples that look fresh, are bright in color and have a fresh apple aroma.
  • Don’t choose underripe apples that are hard and have too much green or yellow color for their variety. 
  • Check that the variety is appropriate for your apple recipe. Apple varieties that are perfect for baking are not always the best choice for raw snacking.

Picking Apples for Pies, Baking, Salads and Sauces

Variety Flavor Texture Eating and

Pies Sauce
Braeburn Sweet-Tart Crisp x x x x
Cortland Slightly Tart
Slightly Crisp x x x x
Crispin/Mutsu Sweet Crisp x x x x
Fuji/Gala Sweet Crisp x      
Golden Delicious Sweet Crisp x x x x
Granny Smith Tart Crisp x x x x
Tart Crisp x x x x
Honeycrisp Sweet Crisp x x   x
Jonathan Slightly Tart Tender x   x x
McIntosh Sweet-Tart Tender x     x
Prairie Spy
Slightly Sweet Crisp x x x x
Red Delicious Sweet Crisp x      
Rome Slightly Tart Slightly Crisp   x x x
  • For the best apple pies, apple crisps and other baked apple items, apples need to be firm enough to hold their shape and have great flavor.
  • Chopped or sliced apples for cakes or sauce can be less firm than apples used in pies. Choose the sweetest variety available for the best flavor.

The Right Amount of Apples for Pie

For a 9- or 10-inch pie, you will need 5 to 6 cups of sliced or chopped apples, or 6 medium apples.

Helpful apple measurements:

  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups chopped or sliced apples is equivalent to 3 medium apples, or about 1 pound.
  • 3 medium apples is equivalent to about 2 large or 4 small apples.

Storing Apples

  • Refrigerate apples for full flavor and crunch. The perfect temperature is between 32º F and 40º F.
  • Store apples in perforated plastic bags or containers that allow airflow to prevent them from drying out.
  • Apples should keep well in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Preparation Tips for Cooking Apples

  • Wash apples before using.
  • Peel apples for baking. Apple skin becomes tough and will not break down when cooked.
  • Use a swivel-bladed vegetable peeler to peel your apples. It peels more quickly than a knife and will remove the peel without taking much apple flesh. Or use a crank-type apple peeler to save time.
  • Cut peeled apples into fourths and cut out the core.
  • Toss cut apple pieces with water mixed with a little lemon juice to prevent browning.
  • Use overripe or bruised apples for sauce.

Apple Dessert Videos

  • Mini Apple Crostatas
  • Warm Caramel Apple Cake