Apples might be the most versatile fruit. You can eat them straight off the tree, bake them with cinnamon, bake them in a cobbler, or toss them into a salad.
Not to mention, they keep the ole doctor away when consumed daily thanks to their nutritional value.
They’re a fall fruit you can find year-round at the grocery store. Maybe you have a favorite kind, buy the cheapest ones, or don’t care which variety you eat.
I love sweet, crisp apples like Fuji and Honeycrisp, but I’ll definitely buy other types if they’re on sale.
Incredibly, there are over 7,500 varieties of apples in the world, and the US grows 2,500 of those varieties. They’re also creating and discovering new varieties all the time.
Types of Apples
It may be time to branch out and try a new kind of apple. Here are some of the best apples and what makes them delicious.
A Golden Delicious is a cultivar of apple from West Virginia. Anderson Mullins found the first Golden Delicious tree in 1912.
It came about by chance and is probably a hybrid of Grimes Golden and Golden Reinette, which also come from the Mountain State.
They named it Golden Delicious because of its color and to market it alongside the Red Delicious.
These apples are sweet like honey and slightly tart but not bitter, and they’re the best apple for making apple pie, juice, or cider.
The McIntosh is the national apple of Canada. John McIntosh found the tree on his farm in Dundela in 1811.
He and his family cultivated it and eventually learned to graft the tree leading to its widespread.
Its skin is red and green, and its flesh is white and tender. There’s a tart, sour flavor with a hint of autumn spice, like cider.
It’s an all-purpose fruit as it’s just as good for eating as it is for cooking desserts.
John Cripps developed the Pink Lady, or Cripps Pink, in Australia in 1989.
He intentionally crossed a Golden Delicious with a Lady Williams to produce this shockingly pink apple. Its skin is yellow or green with a lovely blush of pink on top.
The Pink Lady has both a high sugar and high acid content which gives it a refreshingly sweet-tart taste.
It does tend to be more tart than sweet, but it’s not at all unpleasant. When you take a bite, you’ll find that it’s refreshingly crisp as well.
Growers at the Tohoku Research Station in Fujisaki, Japan, developed the Fuji in the 1930s.
They crossed a Red Delicious with a Virginia Ralls Janet to arrive at one of the sweetest apples in the world.
Fuji apples tend to be larger apples with a nice, round shape. Their skin is reddish-yellow, and their flesh is creamy-white and firm.
They’re very crisp and juicy, and their taste is extraordinarily sweet, with notes of honey, citrus, and pear.
Orchardist J.H. Kidd developed the Gala apple in New Zealand in the 1930s.
It was a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Kidd’s Orange Red. They’re usually small, and their color is red with vertical stripes of golden-yellow. The flesh can be cream-colored to slightly yellow.
The Gala is another sweet one with hints of vanilla and a floral aroma. It’s grown from May through September and very recently surpassed the Red Delicious as the most highly-produced apple in the United States.
The Horticultural Research Center at the University of Minnesota developed the Honeycrisp in 1974.
It wasn’t released until 1991 and didn’t make its way to grocery store shelves until 1997.
Members of the research center intentionally bred the apple for taste.
That’s why the Honeycrisp has a perfect balance of sugar and acidity. When you bite into its red skin, you’ll get a crisp yet juicy taste of its sweet, tangy flesh.
Honeycrisp apples are my absolute favorite. You have to try them!
The Mennell family of British Columbia discovered the first Ambrosia tree on their farm in the 1990s.
Its parents could be Golden Delicious and Starking Delicious, but we can’t be sure since the tree was growing by chance.
The Ambrosia apple is medium-sized and orange and red in color. It’s true to its namesake as it’s a rather sweet apple that’s vaguely pear-like.
There’s no tartness to balance out the sweet, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a refreshing snack.
Lester C. Anderson, a fruit nutritionist at Cornell University, developed the Empire in 1945, but it wasn’t available to the public until 1966.
It’s a cross between a Red Delicious and a McIntosh.
The Empire is a medium-sized apple with dark red skin and bright white flesh.
It’s a sweet apple with a crisp, crunchy taste that’s particularly well-suited for baking.
A research institute in New Zealand called HortResearch developed the Envy in 2008.
It’s a cross between a Gala and a Braeburn. It’s a medium-sized apple with thick, primarily red skin and pale yellow flesh. You’ll find it can have specks, and sometimes splashes, of yellow.
The taste is sweet and flowery, with a hint of vanilla. With its crisp tartness in each bite, you’ll find them to be very similar to Asian pears.
They brown slowly, so they’re a particularly good choice for topping salads.
Here she is, ole granny herself! The Granny Smith apple originated in Australia in 1868.
Maria Ann Smith discovered the apple on her farm and started cultivating it. Thanks to her, we have these uniquely sour, light green apples today.
The Granny Smith is a firm apple with crisp, juicy flesh, and its flavor is very tart, sharp, and acidic.
It’s extremely popular in baking because its firmness holds up well during cooking.
The Gravenstein apple has the most hardcore name of all the apples.
It’s also one of the oldest apple varieties and has no definite origin. The earliest record of its existence is in Denmark in 1669. It made its way to the United States around 1811.
Its skin is red and yellow with some light green undertones. The flesh is crispy, white, and juicy.
The Gravenstein has a pleasant sweet-tart flavor.
This triploid fruit is a popular choice in cooking and is even used to make an Austrian brandy.
The Jazz apple is the result of a collaboration of several entities in New Zealand in 1985.
Its parents are the Royal Gala and the Braeburn apples.
The Jazz is a medium-sized apple with pleasantly red skin and some yellow undertones.
It’s crisp and juicy and tastes mildly sweet with hints of spice.
The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station developed the Liberty variety in 1955.
This development came about because they were trying to make a Macoun apple more disease-resistant.
This deep red apple is on the smaller side and has more of an oblong shape than a circular one. Its flesh is yellow, crispy, and juicy.
It has a mildly tart flavor, much like the McIntosh. They’re more for eating raw than for cooking.
The Mutsu, or Crispin, apple came from Aomori Prefecture, Japan, in 1949 and migrated to the US in 1948.
It’s a triploid cross between the Golden Delicious and the Indo. It’s a large apple with greenish-yellow skin and white to yellow flesh.
Its flavor is well-balanced between honey sweetness and sharp tanginess. It’s a great apple for cooking and for making into cider.
The Institute of Experimental Botany in Prague developed Opal apples in 1999.
It’s a cross between the Golden Delicious and the Topaz. It’s not as old as other varieties but has become popular because it doesn’t brown.
The Opal has sunny yellow skin and crisp, yellowish-white flesh. Like many Golden Delicious babies, it’s sweet and pleasantly tart.
Jesse Hiatt discovered the first Red Delicious tree in Iowa in the 1870s. These apples certainly have an interesting history.
Hiatt submitted the Red Delicious to a local apple contest after being unable to get rid of it in his orchard.
The judges tasted it and declared that it was delicious, thus naming it Red Delicious. Its skin is consistently bright red, and it grows each year dependably.
Unfortunately, its appearance took higher precedence than its taste, leading to its eventual decline in popularity.
John Ball discovered this variety on his farm in Massachusetts around 1740.
William Butters bought the farm, transplanted the tree, and started calling it “Woodpecker” because of the birds it attracted.
It got its permanent name from the man who spread it around the state, Loammi Baldwin.
It was the most popular apple in the US until the Red Delicious came along. It’s a bright red winter apple that’s crisp but pleasant.
The flavor is sweet and moderately rich. It’s worth a taste if you can find one at the store.
A New Zealand farmer named O. Moran from Waiwhero discovered the Braeburn apple in 1952.
This hybrid is named after the Braeburn Orchard where it was first commercially grown. It’s possibly the child of Lady Hamilton and Granny Smith.
Its skin is mostly red with streaks of green and yellow underneath. They’re firm, crisp, juicy, and full of flavor.
Its taste will remind you of McIntosh but with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. That means it’s sweet, tart, and spice all in one.
The Caudle family discovered the Cameo apple in Washington in 1987.
It might be the child of a Red Delicious and a Golden Delicious, so I feel like they missed an opportunity to call it the Delicious Delicious.
Its skin is bright red with yellow and orange undertones. Its flesh is white, crisp, and aromatic.
The flavor is somewhere between sweet and tart with hints of pear.
The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station produced the Cortland apple in 1898.
This cross between a McIntosh and a Ben Davis was named for Cortland County.
Like the McIntosh, its skin is bright red with softer, white flesh. Its flavor has a nicer balance between sweet and tart than its parents. It tastes best right after picking.
Louis Kimzey found the Hidden Rose on his farm in the 1980s.
He grafted the apple and then shared it with Eric Schwartz. Schwartz planted more trees and started working on improving the flavor.
The Hidden Rose is a small to medium-sized apple with golden yellow and orange skin. There are faint blushes of red as well.
The flesh is unique and so visually stunning that you’ll have to see it to believe it. Its taste is sweet, sharp, and fruity with citrus undertones.
The sweet-tart Holstein apple was discovered growing in Germany in the early 1900s.
They’re a medium to large-sized apple variety. The skin is yellow-green with streaks of red. Its dense flesh can range from white to pale yellow.
The Holstein is known for its balance between sweet and tart. You’ll taste them both, along with citrus, pear, and some spice. It’s an excellent apple for eating.
Cornell University was at it again in 1953 when they developed the Jonagold variety.
It’s a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Johnathan apple, thus the name Jonagold.
This very large, juicy apple has a blend of red and golden yellow skin.
The Jonagold is sweet with a tangy aftertaste. Its parent, Golden Delicious, gives it a honey-like smell that’s so, so pleasant.
Herman Chapman had the first Northern Spy apple tree on his farm in Bloomfield, New York, around 1800.
The tree grew out of sprouts of a seedling that was cultivated from failed stock. One of its parents may be the Wagener apple.
The Northern Spy has green skin with flushes of red. Its flesh is white and juicy. It has more tartness than other varieties, along with hints of pear. It’s a good apple for cider.
Someone from Moorestown, New Jersey, first developed the Winesap in the 1700s.
There isn’t much known about its origins, just that it was around during colonial times. It was popular for many years because it stores so well.
That changed as refrigeration allowed a wider variety to flourish year-round.
This small to medium-sized apple has deep, cherry red skin and yellow flesh. It has a somewhat sweet taste that’ll remind you of wine.
Types of Apples
- Golden Delicious
- Pink Lady
- Granny Smith
- Red Delicious
- Hidden rose
- Northern Spy
There are so many varieties of apples in the world! If we ate a different apple each day, it would take us almost seven years to finish the ones in the US and over 20 years to finish the ones worldwide.
That also assumes that no new varieties are made during that period. To me, this is exciting news because the most delicious apple in the world could be out there waiting for me.
If you were curious about what some of those other types of apples might be, especially the older ones, you should check out Tom Brown’s website. You can report new or “lost” apple varieties which may lead to the discovery of the next Royal Gala or Honeycrisp.