Picking the Apple of Your Eye

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How do you like them apples?

No, really. I’m serious. Fall is quickly falling upon us, which means it’s apple season in Michigan. However, there are so many varieties. The question becomes – which is the one for you?

Fittingly, while I was surfing the web at the office the other day (Yes, I actually get paid to do that sometimes – I can’t believe it either) looking for inspiration, I came across the website for the Michigan Apple Committee, which is based in Lansing. Naturally, my first thought was wondering if this organization forgoes a health care plan (“An apple a day” … get it?), but then I stumbled onto one of the coolest features on the website. They have an interactive sliding scale that shows you the different varieties of Michigan apples ranging from sweet to tart.

The Michigan Apple Committee has roots stretching back to 1939, so they are the apple experts in the state. Because of that, I’m going to let them do the talking. Straight from the expert’s website, here are some of the Michigan apple varieties listed from sweet to tart:

SWEET VARIETIES

  • Gala: “Talk about a great apple: crisp snappy bite over a mellow sweetness. Michigan’s third-most-popular apple for fresh eating or cooking. Looks great, smells sweet, eats like a dream.”
  • Ginger Gold: “This sweet-spicy apple has a succulent texture and rich taste. A cross between the Golden Delicious and Albermarle Pippin, this early-season variety is best served fresh. Its mildly tart flavor definitely gets the Michigan autumn apple harvest off to an exciting start.”
  • Golden Delicious: “A gingery-smooth, sweet taste treat lies under a thin skin. The most popular yellow apple, Goldens may be eaten fresh or cut up in salads. Professional’s choice for applesauce or cider, baking pies and other desserts.”
  • Honeycrisp: “This apple is hot! And mighty crisp. Combines unusual color and excellent sweet flavor with a great bite. Use it for fresh eating, fresh-cut slices or cut up in salads.”

MIDDLE-OF-THE-ROAD VARIETIES

  • Red Delicious: “America’s most popular apple, known for the ‘five little bumps’ on the bottom. Best for fresh eating and snacks. Full-flavored sweet taste, yellowish flesh and crisp texture. Discovered over 100 years ago in Iowa.”
  • Fuji: “New to Michigan’s apple line-up, Fuji is Japan’s favorite apple for good reason. Fantastic sweet and tart flavor, with a low acid content. An incredibly good keeper, Fuji stays crisp for weeks.”
  • Braeburn: “These rich, spicy-flavored apples are very firm with a crisp bite. Ideal for pies and baking, they also have a good fresh-eating quality.” However, the best part about Braeburn is that it sounds like an awesome name for a Civil War general: Gen. Edward Braeburn led the southern flank charge at the First Battle of Manassas (That last part is not on the Michigan Apple Committee website).
  • Cortland: “A hint of tartness makes this a great baking variety, used frequently in desserts. A descendent of the McIntosh, this variety is a bit sweeter than its ancestor. Known for its white flesh and excellent flavor.”
  • Empire: “An excellent lunchbox apple or crunch snack. Sweet and tart at the same time. Use for fresh-cut slices, candy and caramel apples. Also used in baking. Texture remains very firm, a good storing apple. Popular in Great Britain.”
  • Ida Red: “Suits your every use. Eat fresh or for cooking. Taste is both tangy and tart. Flesh is white, crisp and juicy. Favored for sauces, pies and desserts. Texture holds up well when baked.”
  • McIntosh: “Classic large, round apple for eating out of hand. Ultra-juicy white flesh, lightly tart flavor and excellent fresh apple aroma. A perky addition to salads. Excellent in applesauce and cider. Also used in pies.”
  • Northern Spy: “Intriguing name, yet this apple is a professional baker’s dream. An antique apple still popular because of tart, acidic properties that cook up well in applesauce, pie and other dishes. A hard apple that ripens late and stores well.”

TART VARIETIES

  • Jonathan: “Both pretty and popular. Used for fresh eating and cooking. Juicy flavor has a spicy tang that blends well with other apples. Michigan’s cooler climate produces superb Jonathans. Discovered in Woodstock, New York.”

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