In order of popularity, the top varieties include:
- McIntosh, a deep red color with a green background.
- Red Delicious, deep red, elongated shaped and five bumps on bottom.
- Empire, dark red, blush with a splash of yellow or green.
- Idared, bright red with greenish-yellow patches.
- Crispin (or Mutsu), greenish-yellow exterior with an orange blush.
- Golden Delicious, yellow or greenish-yellow exterior, elongated shape, five bumps on bottom.
- Spartan, dark red skin.
- Cortland, bright red with yellow cheek.
- Northern Spy, red-striped skin with green color. Northern Spy is the number 1 baking apple.
You can also find Jerseymac, Quinte, Paulared, Golden Russett, Jonagold and a variety of others at farmers' markets and in Pick Your Own orchards.
More than 100 lesser known varieties grow in a "Heritage" orchard at OMAF's Vineland Research Station. It serves as a gene pool and source of bud wood.
One medium apple contains about 80 calories and is a good source of fibre and Vitamin C.
Apples existed as a wild fruit since prehistoric times and have been cultivated for more than 3,000 years. The ancient Greeks, Etruscans, Romans and Egyptians were among its early cultivators.
During the California Gold Rush apples sometimes fetched more than $100 a bushel because of their versatility, durability and capacity to be preserved by drying.
The apple tree now grows (in thousands of varieties) in almost every corner of the globe from Japan to Madagascar to South Africa, New Zealand, Russia, China, England, France and across much of North America.
Buying and Storing
Look for firm apples, free of wrinkles and bruises.
Remove any fruit that are overripe or have soft spots because they give off ethylene gas causing nearby apples to ripen too quickly and spoil. Trim and use for pies or applesauce.
Store small amounts in their original plastic bag in the refrigerator where they will keep for up to one month.
Larger quantities should be kept in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place such as a garage or fruit cellar. Cover loosely with plastic to keep humidity in the apple container.
For a nutritious, high-fibre low fat snack, rinse off, buff and eat as is.
Apples also have many other uses: baked with cinnamon and brown sugar; sliced and dried (Pennsylvania-Dutch schnitz); simmered into a sauce; turned into pies, dumplings, cobblers, crumbles and brown bettys; incorporated in salads; and made into a flavorful spicy sherbet (starting with a rich, thick applesauce).
To freeze for pie fillings and sauces, sprinkle 1 L (4 cups) of peeled, sliced apples with 1 mL (1/4 tsp) ascorbic acid powder and 25 mL (1/4 cup) cold water. Turn gently to coat fruit on all sides. Toss with 25 mL (1/4 cup) granulated sugar. Pack, label and freeze for up to one year.
Before using, frozen apple slices should be thawed for one hour or so (remember to allow for the sugar added prior to freezing).
- Core, slice in thick rounds or wedges. Brush with butter.
- Grill Time: 2 to 4 minutes per side to warm.
- Best Bastes or Toppings: Butter blended with curry or cinnamon.
- Great With: Pork chops or sausage. For dessert: yogurt or ice cream.
- For use in pies and puddings: peel, core and slice. Pack in dry sugar using 1/4 cup (50 mL) sugar to 4 cups (1 L) fruit (dry sugar pack with ascorbic acid).
- Make into applesauce. Sweeten if desired and pack when cold.