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10 Heirloom Apple Varieties to Try This Fall and Their Flavor Differences

heirloom apple

What’s your heirloom apple of choice? Perhaps you prefer the juicy tartness of a Granny Smith, or maybe the crunchy sweetness of a Fuji? Whatever variety most frequently makes your shopping bag, we suspect it’s a personal decision arrived at through much field sampling. And should you one day encounter a mealy bite? It doesn’t take much to move on.

Too Many Options To Eat Boring Fruit!

There are just too many apple varieties – 15,000 to be exact, thanks to a history of entrepreneurial apple growers – to tolerate lackluster fruit. You would also be surprised at how different apple varieties can change the flavor in apple recipes like our cherry and apple slaw. What’s your favorite recipe that could use a shakeup?

As the weather begins to get cooler and the leaves take on a reddish hue, we can’t help but turn our minds to the apple bounty that’s about to be before us in farmers markets and grocery stores. While we’re obviously fans of our Dried Apples, we’re also keen on exploring the lesser-known apple varieties that also pack a flavor punch. Here are 10 of our favorites. Who knows, maybe this is the season for branching out?

Our 10 Favorite Heirloom Apple Varieties

Lady | Est. 1628

The Lady has been around for a long time as one of the oldest heirloom apple varieties available. It has thin pale green skin that is “blushed” with pink tones – hence its name – and a delicate, subtly sweet, zero tart, flavor.

Gravenstein | Est. 1790

The Gravenstein old apple variety from Denmark has found fame in the U.S., specifically Sonoma County, where it grows well and has a festival devoted to it. Gravensteins are easy to spot in the market for their almost striped red markings and non-uniform, sometimes oblong shape. Quality fruit delivers a crisp, juicy texture and sweet, tart flavor.

McIntosh | Est. 1820s

A favorite in the Northeast, McIntosh’s are considered by many to be the perfect apple. These beauties are known for their thin green and red skin, intensely crunchy texture, and tart flavor with nuances of spice.

Pink Lady | Est. 1970s

Not to be confused by the Lady, the Pink Lady is a natural cross between Lady Williams and Golden Delicious. It was the first apple to have a trademark and is noted for it truly pink color, crisp texture and mild sweet and tart flavor.

Arkansas Black | Est. 1840s

Arkansas Black’s sprightly flavor is delicious fresh, but the reason many people stock up on them is for their long storage time of up to three months. Their skin is a dark red that turns almost black in storage belying the fruits’ interior cream flesh. Consider them for baking, drying, ciders and juices.

Honeycrisp | Est. 1960s

The Honeycrisp is today’s “it” apple. We can only imagine these intensely juicy, amazingly crisp, shockingly sweet delights are only bolstered by their tantalizing name. Though pricier than most any other apple, stores have a hard time keeping them in stock. When we see them, we stock up.

Cortland | Est. 1915

Cortland is one of the first man-made hybrids made by crossing the much-loved McIntosh with a Ben Davis. Cortland’s are known for their crisp, finely-grained flesh and juiciness. They’re also slow to brown after being cut making them perfect for salads.

Jonathan | Est. 1864

The Jonathan is believed to be a relative of the Esopus Spitzenburg apple, which was said to be the favorite of Thomas Jefferson for its buttery texture, floral scent, and sweet/tart texture. In this case, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

Cox’s Orange | Est. 1825

Discovered by Richard Cox in London, fans of this European favorite exalt it’s almost nutty, pear-like flavor. Identify it in the market by its deep red-orange hue.

Lodi | Est. 1924

If you like Granny Smith, consider trying the Lodi. This similarly green-skinned heirloom apple has a bracingly tart flavor with notes of grapefruit and ginger. We like it for its soft white flesh, which easily lends itself to applesauce and pies.

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