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Flavors of Fall – Apples: For Eating or Cooking?

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October is National Apple month – and there’s no better time to make an apple pie, apple sauce, a pork roast with baked apples, baked apples with ice cream, an apple martini–or simply grab one for snacking.

The question for me is always, what kind of apple for what method of consumption. Although you can eat any apple, some are more appealing (no pun intended 😉 ) than others. Some apples are better suited for eating raw because of their texture and flavor, others are better for pies and baking because they hold their shape when cooked, and others have the texture and flavor for better applesauce.  So which apple is best used for what purpose? Let’s take a look at apples, 101.

There are more than 7500 varieties of apples. I’ve listed several of the more popular varieties and their best purpose below.

Top 6 apples for eating:

  • Red Delicious: This apple cooks down well into applesauce but is not recommended for baking or frying.
  • Granny Smith: Originally from Australia, this bright green apple boasts white, firm, juicy flesh that is sweet and tart at the same time. It is good for eating, sauteing, and baking.
  • Gala: Native to New Zealand, the Gala is pleasantly sweet and crisp with golden skin and a rosy overtone. It is best for eating raw, sauteing, or slow baking.
  • Cortland: This red-skinned apple with snow-white flesh has a pleasing tartness and a firm texture. It is good for eating out of hand and for adding to fruit salads. Because it breaks down in cooking it is ideal for applesauce, although it is not as suitable for pies and the like.
  • Empire: Red or green-skinned, this juicy apple with a tart-sweet flavour and creamy flesh is a cross between Red Delicious and McIntosh. It’s good for applesauce and delicious eaten out of hand.
  • Fuji: The Fuji, with its yellowish-green skin and juicy white flesh, has a sweet and slightly spicy apple flavor. This apple, developed in Japan in the 1960’s, is particularly prized for eating out of hand.

Top 6 apples for baking/cooking:

  • Golden Delicious: Sweet, juicy, and mild, this is probably the most widely available apple, good for eating raw, frying, and making pies. Its flesh does not darken as readily as that of other apples, and it holds its shape during baking.
  • Granny Smith: Originally from Australia, this bright green apple boasts white, firm, juicy flesh that is sweet and tart at the same time. It is good for eating, sauteing, and baking.
  • McIntosh: This is a fall favorite, with its red skin and crisp, white, juicy flesh. Macs, as they are affectionately known, have flesh that softens when cooked, making good applesauce.
  • Empire: Red or green-skinned, this juicy apple with a tart-sweet flavour and creamy flesh is a cross between Red Delicious and McIntosh. It’s good for applesauce and delicious eaten out of hand.
  • Honeycrisp:  This large apple, with its streaks of red and green, has a juicy, crisp flesh and mellow flavor. Good for eating raw or for a wide variety of cooking methods.
  • Ida Red: A good-looking red apple with a hint of green, this mildly tart fruit is prized for baking and cooking.

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Apple Sharlotka (Russian Apple Cake)

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, sifted with baking soda
  • 6 Honeycrisp apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. baking soda, sifted into flour
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

Grease a 10″ cake pan and line with parchment paper. Add apple slices and set aside. In a mixer, beat eggs and sugar for 2-3 minutes until foamy. Alternate adding flour and sour cream to the batter until all is used. Pour batter over apples and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until tester in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Loosen edges of cake from the pan using a butter knife. Allow to cool about 10-15 minutes, thenflip cake onto plate. Remove parchment paper and flip right side up onto your serving platter. Allow to completely cool. Dust with powdered sugar and additional Cinnamon is desired. Serve with fresh whipped Cinnamon cream.

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