Apple Tasting

October 23rd, 2011 - filed under: The Food » Food and Health

I grew up in southern California, where avocados were abundant and much of my youth was spent swinging from citrus trees. Apples, when one encountered them, came in three varieties: if you were lucky it would be Fuji (way back in the day it was Macintosh – remember when those were actually apples and not computers??), then second best was Granny Smith, and the last and the least was a Red Delicious. I can say that in all my life, I’ve never had even one that came close to approximating “delicious”ness. Not even that one time in that orchard in for-reals Massachusetts. Nope.

I remember the first year I moved to the pacific northwest. My co-workers began their chatter weeks in advance, and I’d overhear excited snippets of conversation: “. . . coming up on apple season . . .“, or “. . . can’t wait to go apple tasting . . .

What the?!“, I thought. I rolled my eyes. And I chuffed! “Apples, psh.”

You can see where I’m going to make this long story short. That fall I sampled my very first Honeycrisp, and from there it was GAME. OVER. I was an apple convert – nay – an apple evangelical!

Pumpkin is nice and all. Butternuts and acorns and all that jazz. Sure.

But really, for me, these days? Autumn is all about the apples.


I love that you can really predict an apple’s flavor, just by the way it looks. A gargantuan golden specimen won’t be tart, while an under-sized rose-colored sort certainly can’t be bland. All the apples I favor look very similar, a calico of shiny green and bursts of blush; a Honeycrisp, a Braeburn, or a pretty Pink Lady.

Very Important Question:
What is your favorite type of apple?

  • Betsy

    I’m currently hooked on Lady William apples (closely related to Pink Lady). Apples are my favourite fruit :)

  • Jeni T

    Granny Smiths all the way.

  • zerowastelifestyle

    Apple tasting! Wow, what a lovely thing to do. I once went apple juice tasting some years ago now when I lived in England. I was blown away by the variety. I am an apple connoisseur-ask anyone who knows me-I can tell what an apple is like just by looking. My poor husband has given up on apple buying as he always buys “the wrong apples” -those floury ones that are all gritty between your teeth…so I found all those apple pics mouthwatering. Yup, can defintely see myself there in one of those tasting lines!

    Look what I spied in today’s paper-enjoy

  • Jen

    Ahh, that looks so much fun! What lovely photos!

    Jazz apples for me. Or Cox if they are in season.

  • Karen Bury

    My favorite is Honeycrisp, hands down! It’s a shame because they have a really short season and even when they’re on sale, they’re kind of expensive. :(

    There is actually an orchard somewhere in the mountains above Yucaipa that I plan to visit to buy apples by the bushel because I want to make applesauce and can it, because homemade applesauce always trumps the store-bought stuff, even Applesnax.

    Supposedly, for at least the next week, they’ve still got Honeycrisp apples to sell. I want to stock up. Honeycrisp apples last a fairly long time in cool, dry storage, and I want to enjoy them until at least Christmas!

  • Laura Agar Wilson

    At the moment my green grocer is stocking some Shogun apples which are a variety of Fiji’s which are huge and so sweet, I adore them. I also love russet apples – they remind me of my nana, as she loved them so much. Apples are probably my favourite food!

  • Ali Seiter

    Honeycrisps are the KINGS of all apples, no question. Thankfully, Wisconsin has an abundance of apple orchards, a good 7 of which crop up at my farmers market. All of them carry a slightly different variety of Honeycrisp, each with small nuances, so it’s very interesting to sample one from each purveyor.

    Also, when I was a kid, apples were the only fruits I would eat–I hated any other type!

  • Sam

    I’m a Honeycrisp convert as of this year! I’ve been working at our Farmer’s Market in Columbus all spring and summer, and my employer “The Herb Guy” has long since been gone… but I was rescued from non-FarMar employment by “The Apple Guy.” This family has a massive orchard in southern Ohio, and they bring 15 or so varieties of apples to the market every Saturday.

    Our customers went nuts the first week we had Honeycrisp- I had never tried them, and since the half-peck bags are literally twice the price of any other variety of apple, I scoffed at their apple elitism- hey man, I love me some Macintosh and Jonagold and Mollys, why should I try these apples that cost their weight in gold apparently? But then The Apple Guy’s wife gave me a few Honeycrisp to take home (along with a football sized sweet potato- what am I going to DO when FarMar season is over?!) and from the first bite, I understood why Honeycrisp are so in demand.

    Also, after working for The Apple Guy, I can understand why Honeycrisp are so expensive- apparently the trees are really finicky to grow and no matter what, the yield is always smaller than all the other trees, but the apples are SO GOOD, like omg, I’m having a Honeycrisp for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and when people see me eating it, they actually get jealous.

    Yay fall flavors :)

  • Deanna

    Pink ladies are my favorite “commercial” apple. But, it’s local apple season here in the midwest and none of my local orchards grow those. So, I’m currently noshing on a Northwest Greening (big, rock hard, tart green apple) and also have red corts, Ida reds, jonafrees, and um, one other variety I can’t remember the name of in my fridge. So yum.

    Still need to make one more trip to the orchard to get Blushing Goldens, though. Haven’t gotten any of those and I love them.

  • Leslie

    Just made a pie with 20 Ounce apples and Northern Spies, and it was the best filling ever!

    For eating I like Fuji and Empire.

  • Fran@BCDC

    I really love Gala but yesterday my friend gave me a Honeycrisp which I’d never tried before. I need to call her to find out where she got it…It was wonderous!!

  • Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles

    How fun! I tried Honeycrisp for the first time this year and I loved it. Suncrisps and Cameos are awesome too! Growing up in Massachusetts we have no shortage of apples, so I still get giddy when it’s pumpkin time :)

  • Greenfeatherherbs

    Macintosh! But you have to have just picked it on a hill looking out onto the mountains in the beautiful western mass!

  • eef

    Same for me! I loved Gala, but then a few weeks ago I tried a honey crisp and holy cow!!!
    I do NOT like red delicious (bleh) or pink lady. Not sure why everyone always seems to love pink ladies, but i don’t like them at all!

  • Lindsay Tritabaugh

    Loooove Honeycrisps. Love. A new conteder is Sweet Tango. My alma mater (U of MN) knows their apples!

  • Jbuesch

    So fun! We went to this last weekend. Loved it. My favorites were sweeter varieties, which is odd since I always thought myself a tart apple kinda gal. I loved the ambrosia, swiss gourmet, and golden pippin. Delish!

  • chelsea

    My favorite apple is the kind I just got from the apple orchard. I don’t remember the name, but they are like jonathan apples. Mostly I choose this type because the label read “Sweet/Tart, stores well.” Stores well? I want a peck of those!

  • Appifanie

    You Northwesterners and your huge apple tastings! I AM SO JEALOUS! I <3 Fall, mostly because of apples. I moved to the SE where there are no fresh local apples. It stinks. (I'm a New Englander). Anyway. Macs are my favorite!

  • Marquesajen

    Woo! We just got back from the orchard! I like in Southeastern PA and we go to our orchard almost every weekend in the fall and winter, now in summer too. We always get Empire apples, but the honeycrisp are so good. I visited State College, PA and got my hands on some Pink Pearl apples that are marbled BRIGHT pink and white flesh inside, but the outside is a dusty pink/green. It has hints of raspberry and lemon. Today I got some Macoun apples :D

  • Eve

    A tie between Gala and Braeburn.

  • Theresa

    My favorite type of apple?? That’s just a complicated question, hah. For me it depends on the application. For munching on I’m really not sure you can beat the Honeycrisp. This year a couple of local orchards have another variety I enjoyed, Zestar. Other than that I enjoy Fuji and the occasional Gala.

    When I’m making some sort of baked dessert, particularly pies, I have to go with my mother’s old standby Nothern Spy’s. They’re a firm, kind of tart apple but to me they really make the best pie ever.

    Then there’s applesauce. Last year I tried a combination recommended by some local foodies and it was a winner! Equal parts Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Ida Red and Macintosh. No sugar needed, just steam segmented apples with cores, puree and strain out the seeds/skin. So simple and so good.

    For me, apple season is bittersweet. Apples are so diverse and lend themselves so easy to tons of applications, I really love them. And they’re great to look forward to, just as I’ve had about enough peaches for my mid-morning/afternoon snacks, here come the apples. But I know this is it. Apples are the last fresh fruit of growing season. I’m left to curl up for winter, daydreaming about spring and strawberries and cherries. I guess that’s really what’s great about seasonal eating though, the anticipation of what’s next and the payoff of some really tasty goods when they’re at their peak.

  • Marquesajen

    And by “like in”, I mean “live in”

  • Brielle

    My favorite are Honey Crisp!!! :) I am in the Portland Area too and we are so spoiled to have such a lovely selection of apples. We went and picked all of ours this year.
    Thanks for sharing your apple tasting adventure!
    Always enjoy your posts.

  • Joselle Palacios

    Pink Ladies, mmmm.

  • Rebecca

    Without question: Honeycrisp! I have always loooved apples (grew up in CT!) but when I ate my first honeycrisp (with my mom) we both swooned and ever since we snatch them up whenever Honeycrisp season rolls around (the season is actually quite short but due to the way the cellular structure of the apple is, it keeps the moisture in without getting mealy—thus they stay fresh for sooo long…yes, I had a long chat with a Honeycrisp apple grower in upstate NY to find out this info…nerd alert!)

    When Honeycrisps are over I definitely head over to Pink Lady. I was never much for golden apples and although I liked green Grannies as a kid I find them too tart now.

    Try making applesauce with Honeycrisps (skin and all for a lovely pink color!) need for ANY sweetener..just apples, water and cinnamon! YUM!

  • Rebecca

    OOooh..I forgot about Norther Spies. My friend owns a cidery that makes hard cider made with spies. Delish!

  • melissadean82

    Virginia Winesap apple are amazing! Great to bake with and great jut to eat! Mmmmmm mmmmm!

  • Brianna

    Honeycrisp for sure!

  • Shanon

    Pink Ladies forever!

  • Jenna

    King apples for sure! My mom has an old (and I mean OLD) tree, and I don’t know anything about the variety, but I’ve loved them since I was a kid. Huge apples with the best tart-sweet flavor and perfect crispness. I’ve never seen King apples anywhere else but my mom’s tree though. Honeycrisps are a close second!
    P.S. I’ve been reading Bonzai for almost a year now and this was the first thing that I just couldn’t resist commenting on!

  • Bittofraw

    I am with you, forget pumpkin, apples are the best of the season! I am not in the PNW right now and I so miss the variety there. I loved a lot of small batch apples that I don’t remember the name of but I know for sure I love Pink Ladies.

  • Valerielovesgreen

    mutsu!! they are only in season for a few weeks, so you gotta get them while the gettings good. the rest of the season i’ll go for figi or honeycrisp.

  • April

    Galas are my favorite for raw eating, and Macintosh is my go to apple for applesaucing. (Although, I need to give Honeycrisp a try. What’s all the buzz about??)

    By the way, I LOVE the top you are wearing. Is it a blouse? Dress?

  • Rachel

    I love the photo of you and the foot…classic

  • Erin Alexis

    My heart belongs to Cortland.