Who hasn't been there? You find an amazing apple pie recipe and you've followed the directions to the letter. Your house smells amazing and you can't wait to take your dessert out of the oven and devour it. Only, once your culinary masterpiece is finished baking, the apple slices you painstakingly cut to perfection have all turned into something that is best described as a mushy pulp.
Selecting the right apples for the job is half the battle. Currently, there are over 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the United States. That makes for a lot of different textures and flavor profiles. Knowing which apples are best for pies, sauces and savory dishes will go a long way in making your baking life easier.
Since apples are in season right this minute, this guide will help make sure you're using one of fall's greatest fruits to its full potential.
If you are planning on using your apples in a pie or tart you're going to want an apple that will hold its shape and not become a mushy mess in the heat of an oven. The most widely available — and widely used — apple here is a Granny Smith. Tart, crunch and firm, this apple not only holds its shape but keeps its texture, which makes it a baker's favorite. But there's no reason to to branch out. Here are three others you should try.
Honeycrisps are fairly new to the apple scene. They were developed by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station's Horticultural Research Center and introduced to the general public in 1991. The fruit is itself is crunchy and sweet with little to no tartness.
Pink Lady apples get their name from their skin, which is reddish-pink in hue. On the inside, the bright white flesh is firm, sweet and tart.
The Jonagold apple is actually a genetic cross between Golden Delicious and Jonathan apples. Taking the very best characteristics from its parents, the Jonagold is bright, sweet and slightly sour. This apple tends to be fairly large with a crisp texture. If you're looking to get the most out of a baking apple, for size and taste, this might be your best bet.
Try these recipes with your best baking apples:
Cast Iron Apple Cobbler
Easy Apple Galette
Quick Apple Hand Pies
Upside-Down Apple Pecan Pie
Apple Cranberry Crisp
Apple Clafoutis with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Nama's Apple Cake
Applesauce isn't just for kids, it's a delicious, healthy and easy-to-make snack that you can enjoy at any age. Picking the perfect apples to make applesauce means considering a variety of factors. However, the most important factor is if the apples in question can be cooked down enough to lose their shape. No one wants crunchy apple sauce! In terms of flavor, selecting apples with different flavor profiles will help make sure that your apple sauce turns out just right.
McIntosh or (Mac) apples are native to Canada but have made there way into the hearts of Americans everywhere. Unlike a Honeycrisp or Granny Smith, McIntosh apples are incredibly sweet with a softer texture, making them ideal for dishes that want apple flavor with little to no crunch.
Braeburn apples are probably not a conventional pick for making applesauce. They have a sweet-tart flavor that is very similar to a Granny Smith and a firm texture, which means they don't break down easily. However, combining this apple with McIntoshes will elevate the traditional sweet apple sauce into something extraordinary.
Apples are classic additions to fall dishes like stuffing, Brussels sprouts and pork. They add a sweet element that often plays nicely with whatever savory ingredients you're serving. Depending on what you're cooking, there is certainly an apple that would work best for the occasion.
Fuji apples are famous for their sweet crunch and zippy flavor. Fujis aren't overwhelmingly sweet, so they're a perfect addition to dishes where you want an apple flavor but nothing that overpowers your whole palate.
Gala apples are currently the most popular variety in America today and for good reason. This mild apple is perfect eaten on its own or added to any savory dish you'd like. The texture here is fairly soft so keep that in mind when braising or sauteing.
Chances are you've never heard of a Winesap. This apple dates back to colonial days, where it enjoyed with relatively high popularity for not only cooking but also cider making. Recently it's being rediscovered and put to good use. This apple is on the smaller side but packs a good amount of sweet, tangy flavor.
These apples will work great in these savory recipes:
Anne Byrn's Favorite Turkey Dressing
Cornbread Dressing with Pecans and Apples
Apple Salad with Fennel and Walnuts
Anne Byrn's Green Tomato and Apple Chutney
Apple and Crispy Brussels Sprouts Salad
Baked Brie with Bacon and Apples
Molasses-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
Pork Tenderloin with Red Cabbage and Apples
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Sausage and Apples
Photo (apple cake): Kate Williams
Photo (applesauce): Ramona King
Photo (pork tenderloin): Ramona King