Photo: Cristian Baitg, Getty Images.
Harvest season is upon us and fruit lovers know what that means:
apples. While there are thousands of varieties of apples grown throughout the world, less than a dozen are available at the average grocery store. We taste-tested and ranked the most common ones so you know what you’re getting before you buy, much less bite. How you like them apples?
Apples Ranked Best to Worst
#1 Jazz Apples
One of the lesser known apple varieties happens to be the best. Jazz apples, which debuted in 2001, strike just the right balance of sweetness, firmness, and crunch. You can snack on 'em, bake with 'em, or lug 'em around in your bag all day and they won't bruise. Of course, every apple has its flaw. For Jazz lovers in the U.S., that flaw is a flip-flopped growing season. The New Zealand-grown Jazz apples (the best of the best) are only available in the U.S. from May to October; an acceptable substitute (Jazz apples grown in Washington state) is sold from October to May.
Photo: David Pimborough, Getty Images.
#2 Honeycrisp Apples
The Honeycrisp apple is like a celebrity of the fruit world; everyone knows its name. Also like a celebrity, this variety of apple didn't just happen naturally; it was "developed" at the University of Minnesota. The Honeycrisp is easily recognizable by its oversize shape, slightly stripey skin, and, oh yeah, its exorbitant price. This apple didn’t take the top honor on our list because it's almost too sweet. At its peak, it tastes like candy. Juicy enough to dribble down your chin and infused with audible crunch, there's also a light, airy quality to the Honeycrisp that allows you to eat several of them and not feel full. Maybe that's not a bad thing, but it does leave the hungry apple-eater wanting.
Photo: Oliver Childs, Getty Images.
#3 SweeTango Apples
Honeycrisp hooked up with the Zestar apple to make this tangy hybrid that landed on shelves for the first time in 2009. Lenticels, or pores that "air out" the apple, are responsible for the SweeTango’s exquisite crispness and juiciness. But act fast—SweeTango is only available for a few months in the fall.
Photo: @sweetango_apple on Instagram.
#4 Pink Lady Apples
Perhaps the prettiest apple, Pink Lady is the color of woman's blushing cheeks, with slightly freckled skin. Subtly sweet and moderately crunchy, the Pink Lady suffers from the same airiness quality that plagues the Honeycrisp. Left too long in the fridge, the Pink Lady also has a tendency to dry out. Enjoy promptly upon purchase.
Photo: Photo: egal, Getty Images.
#5 Granny Smith Apples
For those with more intrepid taste buds, pick a bushel of Granny Smith apples. The super-tart, jewel-hued fruit holds up well to baking and pairs superbly with caramel.
Photo: Jhune Ibanez/EyeEm, Getty Images.
#6 Envy Apples
The Envy apple is far from number one in our eyes, but as a newer variety of apple, it sure does have a clever marketing campaign. “When you’re this good, they call you Envy”,“Bite and believe”, and “A break away from the everyday” are just a few of the brand’s slogans. Grown in New Zealand, Washington, and Chile, this barn-red orb was bred from Braeburn and Royal Gala ancestors. Expect satisfying crunch but a slightly blander flavor than its higher-ranking companions.
Photo: @envyapples on Instagram.
#7 Gala Apples
If you like a hint of vanilla in desserts, you'll like Gala apples; vanilla is their signature flavor. Thin-skinned, crunchy, and mildly sweet, this is an all-around solid choice of apple.
Photo: Wealthylady, Getty Images.
#8 Jonagold Apples
When people refer to The Big Apple, they might be talking about the Jonagold. This hefty apple was created in New York in the 1950s by combining the 19th century Jonathan apple and the more modern Golden Delicious. Thanks to its hints-of-honey flavor, this crimson-skinned apple works well in dessert recipes.
Photo: Doable, Getty Images.
#9 Fuji Apples
These red-on-yellow-skinned apples hail from Japan but are one of the more popular apples among U.S. consumers. (Not that popularity and quality have anything to do with one another.) Known for their year-round availability and exceptional shelf life, Fuji apples are convenient for those who buy apples with the intention of eating them but take a long time to do so. Given that they tend towards the blander end of the taste spectrum and are softer than their predecessors on this list, we wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t eat them at all.
Photo: wdstock, Getty Images.
#10 Golden Delicious Apples
With its yellow skin, subtle flavor, and mild softness, Golden Delicious are a good canvas for your afternoon or post-workout snack. Drizzle with honey, dip in yogurt, or pair with something savory, like cottage cheese, for a protein boost.
Photo: Guy45, Getty Images.
#11 Braeburn Apples
If you like a little spice with your apple, Braeburn has you covered. Cinnamon and nutmeg notes are trademarks of this naturally seeded variety. These apples retain their juice and shape well, making them prime candidates for pies or homemade applesauce; that said, their texture is best described as mushy, so if it’s a snack you’re looking for, keep looking.
Photo: Peter Zijlstra, Getty Images.
#12 Red Delicious Apples
Just because you call a thing delicious doesn't make it so. Such is the case with Red Delicious apples, those elementary school mainstays whose sole purpose are to take up space in a lunch sack or allow someone to check "fruit" on the meal nutrition quota. These burgundy apples are waxy on the outside, spongy on the inside, and unfit for consumption (unless you’re alone, on a desert island, starving…and even then…) Use for bobbing, to fill a decorative fruit bowl, to stuff a Christmas stocking, or as a target in archery practice--anything but eating.
Photo: Mariusz Blach, Getty Images.