Apple Season and Baking

— By Danielle Breunig, University of Maine Dietetic Intern 

Apple picking is now in season. Everyone that goes apple picking eats the apples they pick. Have you ever wondered what type of apple you’re eating or what apple is best for baking a pie? If so, this post will cover everything about apples, from apple varieties to their uses. 

How to choose your apples

There are over 7,000 varieties of apples that exist throughout the world, with 2,500 of those varieties  grown right here in the United States. When choosing your apples, look for a variety that suits your taste buds. Many apple varieties can be used for all purposes from cooking to eating them raw. In general, tart apples are best enjoyed for cooking and sweeter apples are best enjoyed for eating raw. Before buying a large quantity of apples,  make sure to test out which apple variety you like best based on its flavor and texture. 

In the summer apples tend to be juicy and tart which is great for applesauce and pies. When you go picking in autumn, apples are tart and firm but become less crisp and snappy overtime. To ensure you’re getting the best usage out of your apples, be sure to have a plan on what you will use them for. For example, if your apples are bruised and damaged then you may want to avoid using them for home canning due to the food safety risk. Instead, those apples are best used for jelly, apple butter, and applesauce.

How to store your apples

When storing apples make sure to sort through them and remove any with bruises and breaks in the skin. It’s best to use them sooner than later to avoid further spoilage and waste. For short term storage (a couple of days up to 2 weeks): store apples in a cool place 60-70° F. for long term storage (up to several months): divide the apples into small groups and store at 32° F. Storing apples in a slightly moist environment and a consistent cold temperature will ensure the best quality for the apple. 

Here are some popular apple varieties in Maine and how they are used. Check out Maine-ly Apples for more apple varieties and uses. 

  •     Williams Pride: slightly spicy 
  •     Sansa: great for desserts 
  •     Ginger Gold: early season dessert apple, high quality, and sweet
  •     Zestar: juicy dessert apple and high quality early season crisp 
  •     McIntosh: Maine’s favorite and great for baking, eating, and juicing 
  •     Cortland: great for cooking
  •     Prima: great for desserts

Make sure to taste test a variety of apples this autumn season to discover which one you like best. Don’t be afraid to combine your favorite apple varieties in your recipes. There’s no right or wrong way. You never know what could come about when you try different things.