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A Guide to Apple Baking, Saucing and Munching

Apples are the quintessential fall fruit. Perfectly perched on top of teachers’ desks and tucked into lunchboxes, apples are in their prime right now. Fall also brings with it a resurgent interest in baking. I’m finally feeling ready to return to the kitchen for a few cooking projects – whole baked apples, applesauce and even apple chips are on the list.

The toughest part of about encountering the glorious display of apples in our stores is deciding which apple is best for which project. All are great for munching out of hand, but texture, flavor and size all contribute to whether the chosen fruit is best for apple crisp or applesauce.

Baking

Whether stuffed and baked whole for a self-contained side or dessert or chopped up and hidden under a layer of dough or crumble topping, these apples hold their shape during cooking.

  • Rome apples are very large with green-speckled red skin. This variety makes an impressive dessert when baked whole.
  • Extra tart with thick, “apple green” skin, Granny Smiths are the perfect foil to a sweeter baking apple like Golden Delicious for balanced pies and crisps.
  • Braeburn apples are very crisp, sweet and tangy making them great for baking or eating raw.
  • Golden Delicious are excellent all-purpose apples that are particularly good in pies and crisps.
  • Jonagold apples have a honeyed sweetness and crisp yellow flesh. This variety holds its shape during baking or sautéing.

Saucing

These apples break down beautifully with heat, making them perfect for purées and sauces.

  • Cortland apples are sweet and juicy and their flesh breaks down easily with cooking making a luscious sauce. These crisp apples are also great raw as their flesh resists browning.
  • With shiny, deep red skin and bright white flesh, Empire apples are crisp and a little spicy. Cored and stewed, this variety cooks down into a beautiful rosy pink sauce.
  • Stout Macoun apples are tender, juicy and sweet making them perfect for sauce.
  • Tart-sweet McIntosh apples are juicy with a great fragrance, but they don’t stand up to long cooking times.

Munching

If you’re simply in need of a good snack, apples fit the bill. These are some of our favorite varieties for eating out of hand or using raw in salads.

  • Honeycrisp apples are extra crisp and tangy. They are excellent eaten raw, but will also hold their shape when baked.
  • With red skin and light green patches, Fuji apples are juicy and fragrant.
  • Crisp and mildly sweet, Gala apples are a super satisfying snack.
  • Pink Lady apples are pinky red in color with crisp, juicy flesh and a complex flavor.

What are your go-to baking apples? Which is your favorite variety for munching? Share your snacking and baking suggestions and tips in the comments section below.