Ask Cynthia a Question – September 25, 2013

Cindy BriggsJanet asked:  Some cookbooks simply call for “cooking” apples, they don’t specify what kind of apple should be used in a recipe. How can I determine which apple is best for what I’m making?

My answer:  I’m asked that question quite often. In my book, Pork Chops & Applesauce, I learned my lesson about not specifying which apple to use for a recipe because that’s when people started asked me. So, when I wrote Sweet Apple Temptations I specified in each recipe which apple would work best. Stating the variety of apple to use in a recipe can, however, present problems because there are approximately 2,500 varieties grown in the United States alone and 7,500 varieties grown worldwide. Additionally, what’s available in produce markets in New York City is vastly different than what we’d find in Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas, etc.

I usually purchase Delicious or Golden Delicious for salads or snacking. However, I do put one or two Delicious varieties in my applesauce along with the hardier apples as a natural sweetener and thickener. Probably my favorite in-between choice is the Fuji, Pink Lady, and Honey Crisp, which are good for eating plain or to use for cooking. There are a world of choices out there and some local names won’t be on these charts. I suggest asking your produce person what apple is best suited for your baking/cooking needs; they’re usually very helpful especially at the farmer’s markets and produce stands.

Here are a few charts that might be helpful. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has an informative chart I like. It’s basic but does the job. has an article “All About Apples” that’s quite good. About mid-way through the article is an excellent chart for choosing the right apple. An apple chart that will help you choose an apple for any and all occasions! Thanks for your question, Janet, and Happy Autumn.

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