Fall Fest: Pick The Perfect Apple

Some apples stand up to baking, while others fall flat in the oven. Some are too tart to munch on, but perfect for pies. So, how do you choose? Here's a primer on picking the best apples for the job.
By: Liz Gray
The Neelys' Apple Crisp

Photo by: Tara Donne ©2009

Tara Donne, 2009

We're teaming up with other food and garden bloggers to host Fall Fest 2010, a season-long garden party. Each week we'll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you're harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. To join in, check out awaytogarden.com.

Bring on the apple crisp, baked apples and applesauce-d pork chops  -- apple season is here! From popular supermarket varieties to the thousands of heirloom types you can pick up at a local farmers' market, each apple has its own personality.

Some apples stand up to baking, while others fall flat in the oven. Some are too tart to munch on, but perfect for pies. So, how do you choose? Here's a primer on picking the best apples for the job.

Best to Resist Browning

Apple Moons


Food stylist: Stephana Bottom

©Hearst Communications Inc., 2010

Hearst Communications Inc., 2010

Apple Type: Cortland

Why They Work: Juicy, mildly tart Cortland apples don't oxidize as quickly as some varieties, so you can avoid ugly brown apples in your salad or lunch sack. To discourage browning on any apple, dip in lemony water just after slicing.

Other Good Choices: Golden Delicious, Ginger Gold
Recipe to Try: Apple Moons

Best to Pair With Cheese

Apple Types: Honeycrisps with blue cheese; Cortlands with cheddar; Granny Smiths with taleggio

Why They Work: The Honeycrisp's honey-sweet flesh pairs well with bold cheeses, while mildly-tart apples pair well with nutty aged cheddar. For rich, soft cheeses like taleggio and brie, the Granny Smith's acidic flavor helps cut the fat.

Best for Apple Bobbing

Apple Types: Gala and Jonagold

Why They Work: Round, long-stemmed apples like these varieties are easiest to catch.

Best For Cooking Whole

The Neelys' Baked Apples

House Number - 0065642F1

Baked Apples. The Neelys Down Home with the Neelys NY-0309

Apple Type: Jonagold

Why It Works: This bumpy cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious has a tough skin and firm flesh that holds its shape while cooking.

Other Good Options: Gala, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Gala, Rome Beauty

Recipe to Try: The Neelys' Baked Apples

Best for Long-Term Storage

Apple Type: Arkansas Black

Why It Works: These crisp, dark red apples have a firm flesh that keeps very well when stored in a cool, dark place. To increase the shelf life, keep apples in the coldest spot in your refrigerator.

Other Good Choices: Blushing Golden, Bonnie Best, Rome Beauty

Best For Baking

The Neelys' Apple Crisp

Photo by: Tara Donne ©2009

Tara Donne, 2009

Apple Type: Macoun

Why It Works: To make pies,crisps and tarts, you want an apple that will remain flavorful and firm during cooking. This dark red cross between McIntosh and Jersey Black delivers.

Other Good Options: Granny Smith, Baldwin, McIntosh, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Baldwin

Recipe to Try: The Neelys' Apple Crisp (pictured)

Best for Sauces

Apple Type: Idared

Why it Works: This cross between Jonathan and Wagener has a strong apple flavor that holds up well during the cooking process. Cook with the skin on and strain for a lovely pink applesauce.

Other Good Choices: Jonathan, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Paula Red, Macoun, Jonagold, Gala, Cortland

Best For Raw Munching

Beet and Apple Salad


Weekend Curdite Salad on a light green plate

©Food Styling - Jamie Kimm Prop Styling - Marcus Hay

Food Styling - Jamie Kimm Prop Styling - Marcus Hay

Apple Type: Honeycrisp

Why It Works: For eating out-of-hand and topping salads, you want an apple with sweet flavor and super-crisp flesh. Honeycrisp has the perfect combination of sweetness and crunch.

Other Good Options: Red Delicious, Gala, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Jonathan, Cortland, McIntosh, Braeburn, Pink Lady

Recipe to Try: Beet and Apple Salad

TELL US: What's your favorite kind of apple?  Shout it out in the comments, or share your favorite apple recipes on Twitter at #fallfood.

More Apple Recipes From Friends and Family:

Next Up

Early Morning Apples — Fall Fest

Instead of relegating apples to dessert, start strong by incorporating crisp, juicy apples into your breakfast regiment with these Food Network apple recipes.

Savory Apple Recipes — Fall Fest

Although apples are often synonymous with flaky, warm pies, try making a savory apple recipe instead.

6 Healthy Treats to Make After Apple Picking — Fall Fest

Whether you prefer sweet Fujis or tart Granny Smiths, here are five healthy ways to use up your freshly picked apples this fall.

Fall Fest: 31 Days of Apple Recipes

What would fall be without apples?! Get a dose each day of the month with these 31 tips and recipes.


Delicious Miss Brown

8:30am | 7:30c

Delicious Miss Brown

9:30am | 8:30c

Food Paradise

10am | 9c

Food Paradise

11am | 10c

Food Paradise

12pm | 11c


1pm | 12c


2pm | 1c


3pm | 2c


4pm | 3c


5pm | 4c


6pm | 5c


7pm | 6c


8pm | 7c


9pm | 8c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Supermarket Stakeout

10pm | 9c

Candy Land

11pm | 10c


12am | 11c

Candy Land

2am | 1c


3am | 2c