If the whole “apple a day keeps the doctor away” thing really works, then you better start baking pies and making mulled apple cider to keep up. Fall is peak apple season, with the juicy, refreshing, crisp fruit at its best for snacking on plain or making into apple crumble. But what type of apple will make the perfect applesauce, and which is better suited for pairing with brie on a cheese board? To find out, we tapped the experts at Frog Hollow Farm—a 45-year-old fruit-focused farm in Brentwood, CA, that Chrissy is a big fan of from their Instagram—to get their top apple varieties for different cooking and baking appleications.
To get some of these apples, you’ll have to shop local (or buy fresh fruit online from Frog Hollow). Farmers’ markets have more variety than the grocery store so you can branch out and buy apples that are uniquely delicious for different dishes. To figure out if you have a good apple once you start shopping, just gently rub the skin. If it’s waxy, it’s likely overripe. Don’t bother squeezing your apple—a softer interior does not always mean it is rotten; some apples are just naturally softer and you can bruise the fruit for the next person and create more food waste. Once you get home, Frog Hollow suggests you store apples at 30–35°F with 90–95 percent humidity. They can last for months this way! Since they give off ethylene gas, which ages other produce, be careful not to store them next to other fresh items.
Now that you’re ready to pick out the best apples and know how to store them, find out what types you should grab at the farmers’ market next based on what you want to make!
For Apple Pie and Apple Crumble
Use a combination of apples to get sweet and sour, acidic and not. Granny Smith, Belle De Boskoop, Gravenstein, Cortland, and Pippin add a nice tartness and tang, mixed with balanced-to-sweeter ones like Pink Lady, Ashmead's Kernel, Spitzenburg, and Golden Delicious. For taste and looks, Pink Pearl turns a nice pink color when baked. If you avoid one apple for baking in general, it should be Fuji, as they stay crunchy rather than softening as the dessert cooks.
For Salads, Cheese Boards & and Just Snacking
Fuji or Pink Lady apples are both sweet and crunchy, making them ideal for simply taking a big bite or slicing for salads and cheese boards. Pink Lady apples have a nice acid mix to complement greens and zesty dressings, while Honeycrisp and Macoun are extra crisp in texture.
For Cooking: Applesauce, Apple Butter & Savory Foods
Most apples that are good for pie and soften well are great for applesauce, apple butter, and savory cooking, too! Apples work great with pork and chicken especially. (As a reminder, those are: Granny Smith, Belle De Boskoop, Gravenstein, Pippin, Pink Lady, Ashmead's Kernel, Spitzenburg, Golden Delicious, and Pink Pearl.) Gala is also excellent for applesauce for its premium sweetness, and Braeburn and Jonagold are ideal for savory cooking (like in this pulled pork sauce).
If you want a more tart cider, go for Pink Lady. If you like things on the sweeter side, use McIntosh, Gala, or Fuji.