Apples and Autumn were made for each other! Who can imagine the season without freshly baked apple pies, fresh apple cider, caramelized apples, an apple for the teacher, or the old tradition of bobbing for apples at Halloween?
With stores and local farm stands loaded with a wide assortment, you may feel challenged in choosing what kinds of apples to buy. How you will use them is as important in making this decision as personal taste.
What kind of apples are right for what you are doing? For eating straight from the bushel basket, crisp, juicy, tangy varieties are best. Red Delicious is the most popular eating apple, though you may prefer a denser Granny Smith, a softer-fleshed McIntosh, or the distinctive taste of local farm varieties like Newton, Pippin, Macoun or Sweet Sixteen. And, no matter how much you like them, avoid using Red Delicious in cooking, which turns them into bland mush.
For sauce, McIntosh is moist and has good flavor. Cortlands are also good because their sweetness means adding less sugar; Braeburns are good, too.
Rome is a good baking apple as they hold their shape and have room for lots of filling. You can also try baking with Fuijis, which are sweeter and wetter, with a slightly spicy flavor.
For pies, a mix of apples is best. Include Golden Delicious for sweetness and good shape, a tart apple like the green Granny Smith, and some flavorful varieties like the Pippin, Winesap, Crispin and Jonagold.
Remember to work apples into your daily menu, from having apple oatmeal pancakes for breakfast, smoke turkey and apple sandwiches for lunch, brooke trout with apples for dinner, apple pear salsa with chips for a snake or maybe try green apple sorbet.
When deciding how many apples to buy, figure 2 large, 3 medium or 4 small apples to the pound. For sauce, a large apple yields 3/4 cup, a medium one cup, and a small apple, 1/3 cup. For pies, most recipes call for 6 to 8 apples, but you can always use 8 large or 10 smaller ones.
Remember to always store apples in the fridge, where they keep 10 times as long as they do at room temperature.