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Apply the Terminology

They’re not just a red fruit with a juicy center. Apple folk (breeders, growers, obsessive consumers) know that each variety necessitates a separate set of descriptors – ones for taste as well as appearance, texture (inside and out), keeping quality, and aroma. Here are some of the most popular “Northern” varieties.

Duchess:
Decent eating apple, but better to cook with. Attractive, larger-sized apple with greenish yellow skin splashed with vivid red stripes and russeted dots. Expect firm, fine, juicy flesh. Flavor is tart, brisk, and refreshing. Keeps for only a few weeks.

Connell Red:
Bountiful trees produce large, dark red apples that are superior for eating raw. For northern areas like ours, this keeps well late into the season.

Cortland:
This variety is red with even brighter red striping. Imagine a “floral” taste with a “sweet kick.” When you slice it, it resists browning.

Empire:
The bright white flesh yields a sweet, crisp texture. Even the non-connoisseur will notice a distinct non-apple flavor. Apple textbooks call it “vinous,” but think of it as a hint of melon, pineapple, or elderflower. Not prone to bruising.

Fuji:
Boxy fruit that has a yellowish green skin and an orangey-red blush and dark stripes. Juicy, crisp white flesh; a little acidic. Good for keeping.

Gala:
The best way to enjoy it is right off the tree. Characterized by bright orange-red patterns on the skin. Compact, juicy, fine textured flesh with a yellow-white color. Sweet with a hint of tartness. Hangs well on tree.

Haralson:
Want to make cider? Eat it off the tree? Bake some crisp? This one does it all. Flesh is crisp, juicy, firm. Just a wee bit tart, but not acidic. Retains good flavor in keeping.

Honeycrisp:
Exceptionally crisp and juicy texture with a unique cream-colored, coarse texture. The flavor ranges from mild to well-balanced and is often strongly aromatic. It ranks high in consumer sensory tests.

Honeygold:
Like a Golden Delicious, but well-built for our cold northern areas.
Gold to greenish fruit with reddish-bronze blush. More sugary and bland than its warm-weathered counterpart. Eat ‘em and store ‘em – it’s all good.

Jonagold:
A large yellow apple with lots of red striping. Expect a bit of a crackle from the flesh, and a slight tartness accompanying the full, rich flavor. Put them in desserts, and store them in the refrigerator for 3 months.

Jonathan:
One of the first red apples of the fall, this firm textured apple has a good sweet/sharp balance, making it an excellent variety for eating and cooking.

Macintosh:
You can probably smell its heavenly perfume before you take a bite. Its surface is polished and the reddest of reds with many dots and slight yellow blushing. Snow-white flesh is crisp tender, “sprightly,” and sub-acid.

Paulared:
For those that like tartness, this creamy-fleshed apple will do the trick. Good for eating, in pies and sauces.

Pristine:
A superior early apple that keeps well, from a tree that produces quite a bit. Look for the lemon-yellow coloring.

Spartan:
If you can imagine a cross between McIntosh and Pippin apples … that’s what the Spartan is all about. Good all-purpose apple.

Red Delicious:
Thin dark-to-bright skin with a meekly flavored compact white flesh. Bruises easily. Does not keep well. Was the most popular variety in the world (until the rise of Fuji and Gala)

Regent:
Bright red outer skin with celadon streaks. Off-white crisp, juicy inside. Totally sweet flavor.

Viking:
A darkly colored apple – maroon to purple color. Highly scented. Crisp and juicy, richly flavorful with acid component. Outstanding flavor retention when cooked. Keeps about one month.