Types of Apples

There are more than 7500 types of apples grown around the world.  From common slices of homegrown wisdom (“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”) to clichés (“As American as motherhood and apple pie”) to its mythic role in traditional fairytales like Snow White, the apple is more than just a snack food.  It has become a cultural icon.  Whether you want to learn more about your favorite types or are looking for an exotic new addition to a favorite apple based dish, the following list has something to offer.

All types of apples share several factors in common.  Apples are both cultivated and grown in the wild.  Different types of apples are used for making cider, eating fresh as a snack, and baking of items such as apple breads, muffins, and pies.  Depending on the use you have in mind, look at the following factors about the apple breeds you are considering:

  • Shape and size
  • Color
  • Tartness versus sweetness
  • Firmness of the flesh
  • Degree of juiciness
  • Thickness of the skin
  • Crisp versus soft
  • Scent
  • Strong apple flavor versus mild apple flavor
  • Crossover appeal (ie. Does it taste like another fruit, such as pear?)
  • Level of acidity

Different types of apples commonly available include:

  • Red Delicious: You’ll find this apple in every supermarket, and grown commonly in orchards that offer apple picking.  The Red Delicious has a sweet-tart crisp, with a thick bitter skin and strong flavor. It’s especially good for snacking and can be paired with an earthy spread such as almond butter or jam.
  • Golden Delicious: A Fall favorite, Gold Delicious have a thin skin and juicy texture. It can be used for baking and gives fantastic results as the centerpiece of pies and apple cakes.
  • Granny Smith: Granny Smiths are green in color and have a mild flavor.  They have a long shelf life, and are often used as the basis of apple sauce.  Granny Smiths blend especially well in baking where cinnamon is used.
  • Wine Sap: Wine Sap apples have a distinct flavor and the aroma of wine. The Wine Sap has a distinctly strong flavor.  Cultivated locally throughout the United States, these are often found at farm stands and boutique orchards.
  • Gala: The Gala is another of the usual suspects of the type of apples that appear in every produce section. They have a creamy yellow color, mild and sweet taste. A derivative of the Golden Delicious, the Gala’s mild flavoring makes it a perfect base for pies and other sweetened desserts.
  • McIntosh Apples: With roots in 1870s Canada, the McIntosh is a highly cultivated cross of several other types of apple.  Noted for retaining green spots even when fully ripe, this versatile apple is used for eating fresh, for many kinds of cooking, and for juice and cider.  The McIntosh is a favorite of chefs as the basis of apple-infused sauces and accents for gourmet dishes.
  • Rome Apples: Originating in Rome Ohio, the Rome Apples are round fleshy apples with an appealing red color. Their thick skin and sharp taste make them an excellent choice for skin-on recipes such as apple crumble and hearty pies.

types of apples
If you are interested in trying more unique apples, we recommend the following:

Ard Cairn Russet:  The Ard Cairn Russet is an ancient, wild apple from Ireland.  Its known for a distinct banana like flavor.

Ashmead’s Kernal:  Ashmead’s Kernal is another old variety of apple with a smooth pear like flavor.  This British apple also thrives in North America.

Calville Blac d’Hiver: With a beautiful yellowish golden hue, this apple boasts a unique spicy flavor and strong apple scent.  A perfect apple for a tart dish, this is favorite apple used by top chefs.

Captain Kidd Apple:  The Captain Kidd apple is a bold fruit, as its name implies.  Slashed through with dramatic red lines, the apple is juicy, tangy, and very sweet.  An excellent choice for eating fresh as a snack.

Cardinal Von Galen:  This apple’s big and bright red skin led to it being named after the robes worn by Catholic Cardinals.  This apple is a favorite for use in juice, cider, and other apple based drinks.

Pacific Rose:  The Pacific Rose is an engineered apple (meaning it was grown over time to develop a specific flavor profile) out of New Zealand.  The name on this designer apple is trademarked, and well worth the effort.  The sweet dessert apple is a mainstay of pies, crisps, and other desserts.

Palmer Greening Apple:  The Palmer Greening is an apple that is deeply beloved by its fans.  With what’s been described as a “perfect apple appearance,”  the Greening develops tends to a firm crispness and a flavor that develops from very mild to increasingly sweet as it ripens.

Telstar Apple: The Telstar is a small, flattish apple with a very standard flavor not unlike the Gala.  The Telstar is distinguished as a very low acid fruit making it a good choice for those with a sensitive stomach.

Victory Apple:  The Victory is a stunning apple, with a vivid gold coloring flecked by grey undertones.  The flesh is a bone white, and the apple has a firm snap when you bite into it.

Magnum Gala:  If you’re a fan of the Gala apple, but they leave you wanting more, search out the Magnum.  It has all the features of the classic Gala, but even better – it’s supersized!

Malinda Apple:  This extremely mellow apple is the quintessential Minnesota apple.

Maidens Blush: The Maidens Blush is a diverse apple that’s used for cooking, eating raw, and making cider.  Unlike the name, the Maidens Blush is not subtle with a sharp and acidic crispness appreciated by apple enthusiasts.

All types of apples we surveyed have something unique to offer.  Explore your local grocery store, organic markets, farm stands, and more to seek what varieties of apples of offered locally. Whether you are seeking out an opportunity to discover something new or rekindling the familiar flavors of your childhood, apples can be a nutritious and delicious addition to any meal.

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