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Apples to Apples: A Primer on Common Apple Varieties

Apples to Apples: A Primer on Common Apple Varieties

The days are getting shorter. We find ourselves thinking about cozy things: hearty soup on a low simmer, pumpkins and fall flowers by the front door, and of course, that first bite into a crisp, juicy apple. It’s fall, the new crop is in, and we’re excited to bring it to you!

A primer on our most popular varieties is a good place to start. Our apples come from Washington state, the nation’s biggest grower. Despite this growing season’s extreme heat and drought, growers expect the crop size should be roughly similar to past years.

Here’s what’s in right now. We’ll go from sweet to tart.

  • Fuji apples, one of our most popular, are sweet and firm, low in acid, and crisp and juicy. Its characteristic bicolored skin is a subtle pink speckling over creamy yellow-green.
  • Gala apples, the most popular in the US, are sweet, mild, and low in acid. Color ranges from cream to red and yellow stripes. As they mature on the tree, the red color deepens.
  • Honeycrisp, another customer favorite, is both sweet and tart, -- and true to its name, so crisp it ‘snaps.’ It’s light and refreshing, especially when eaten lightly chilled.
  • Jazz is crunchy, juicy, and tangy-sweet with distinctive notes of pear. If you like a really strong crunch when you bite into an apple, Jazz is the apple for you. Developed in the 1980s, it’s another snack favorite.

Here’s what’s coming in over the next few weeks. From sweet to tart…

  • Smitten, whose color ranges from yellow to pink to red, is sweet with some acidity – similar to Gala and Braeburn, its parent varieties. It’s a pretty new variety, available only since 2011.
  • Cosmic Crisp is having a moment, having burst onto the scene only recently and growers are working hard to keep up with demand. Sweet-tart with complex flavors and a tangy finish. Thanks to higher acidity and sugar, it’s slower to turn brown when exposed to air. It’s commercially grown only in Washington.
  • Braeburn’s lemony, floral nuances make its flavor rich and complex. Crisp, very juicy, and refreshing without being too sugary or puckery. Braeburn growers say its flavor is best when served just below room temperature.
  • Pink Lady is easy to recognize by its rosy-pink skin. Not as tart as a Granny Smith, but like Braeburn (one of its parent varieties), its tartness is noticeable in the nicest of ways.

We thought you might be wondering…
If apple harvest runs roughly from August into November, then how are crisp, juicy apples available all year round?

Under the right conditions, apples are good keepers. Even kept cold at home, apples can last a couple months – much longer in controlled atmospheric storage.

As soon as they harvest the fruit, professional growers store it with the same kind of care a sommelier takes with fine wines. Combining high humidity with low temperature and oxygen levels delivers apples with the same crunch and sweet/tart balance we expect on that first bite. Enjoy!