How to pick the best apple for you?

best appleLooking for the best apple for your apple treat?

With over 7500 varieties of apples in the world how do you know what apple variety to choose?

Lucky for you, there are only about 100 varieties of apples grown in the United States. The majority of apples available in your store come from 18 popular varieties.

My love of apples dates back to my childhood. So much so, when we moved from New York to Arizona my father attempted growing an apple tree in our backyard. As a teenager, the first pie I learned to make was an apple pie. And I have no idea how many apples I eat throughout the year, but I know it’s plenty.

After all, I eat at least five pounds of apples every week, except during late fall or apple harvest season. I am lucky to have several varieties of apples growing on my property. During apple season I just pick from the trees and eat away. Or I store the fresh apples as a pie filling, applesauce, dried fruit, and jams. The best part about picking fresh apples is that I know they’ve been grown naturally without pesticides. And none of my apple trees are genetically modified.

The worst part about my infatuation with apples – is the rest of the year I’m on an apple hunt.

Choosing the best apple variety for you.

I confess – when I look at the apples in the stores, or farmers market I don’t look for variety first. I look for organic. Why organic?

4 reasons to buy organic apples from the store.

  1. Organic apples and orchards aren’t sprayed with pesticides. Click here to see how many pesticides were found in 2016 on conventionally grown apples.
  2. Organic Apple Trees can only use natural fertilizers.
  3. Organic Apples cannot be GMO (genetically modified organism). Yes, the U.S. government has approved 3 GMO varieties of apples. You can find more information about GMO approved apples here.
  4.  Not all organic apples have added wax, like conventionally grown apples do.

Is there a visual difference between an organic and conventionally grown apple?

Yes, no and maybe.

Apples naturally have a wax coating which helps keep the apple from spoiling, losing quality, and helps repel water.

A waxed apple appears very shiny and bright.  An identical variety of apple without wax looks duller, and you won’t feel wax on the apple.

You may not see a difference between an organic and a conventionally grown apple, and then again you might not. Why, because both organically grown and conventionally grown apples could have added wax on them. The wax used by conventionally grown apples seems to be much more noticeable and can include toxins.

Yes, there are approved waxes for apples and other organic food that is approved by the USDA Certified Organic seal. Some organic apple companies use wax coating, and some do not.

The process of growing and waxing apples.

In a “conventional” apple orchards pesticides are sprayed on the trees, the blossoms, and the ground around the trees. After picking, apples become power washed to remove dirt and pesticide residues. The washing removes the majority of the apple’s natural wax. Once the conventional apples are power washed they are sprayed with wax which protects the apple during transporting and storing.

Organic apples are also washed but not as harshly. They are washed or floated in water to wash off any dirt or dust on them. The apple’s natural wax isn’t completely washed off, which mean organic apples keep nature’s protective coat on them when shipped and stored.

The organic apple shines from a natural wax the tree produces to protect the apple.  The organic apples may not look perfect, but they’re healthy without added pesticides, unnatural additives, or GMOs.

Testing the wax look at the grocery store

At the grocery store this past week, I decided I would do my own non-scientific wax test on organic and conventionally grown apples.  Yes, this means I was running around the produce department comparing varieties of both organic and conventionally grown apples.

The organic apples in my grocery store didn’t feel or look like they had a wax coating. The organic apple didn’t feel slick nor look super shiny.They looked and felt similar to the apples I pick from my trees.

The conventionally grown apples were shinier, smoother, and felt like there was a coating on them. My thumb slid across the waxy apple with ease.

Next time you’re at the store grab a few different apples which are conventionally and organically grown and do your own comparison.

Some things for you to decide…

Remember according to the PDP (pesticide data program) in 2016 https://apps.ams.usda.gov/pdp 47 different varieties of conventional washed apples contained pesticides in and on them.

  • Do you think peeling your conventional apple keeps pesticides from not being in your apple?
  • Do you think the apple power washing removes all the pesticides on your apple?
  • Do you think the added wax seals in pesticides left on the conventional apple?
  • You decide and buy accordingly.
  • If you don’t want pesticides, GMO, and wax – think organic.

What variety of apple do you want?

 That depends on what your tastes are and what you’re using the apple for.

Personally, I love eating both tart apples and sweet apples.  Plus, I like trying new varieties of apples whenever I see them.
*A cross apple does not mean it is GMO – it means 2 different species were cross-pollinated to create this apple variety.

Below is a list of 18 popular apples and their traits by usapple.org.

  1. McIntosh:
  • Color: red and green coloring.
  • Flavor: tart
  • Flesh: firm
  • Best usage:  eating, storing, baking or cooking
  1. Fuji:
  • *Cross: Ralls Janet and Red Delicious.
  • Color: striped with yellow and red
  • Flavor: sweet
  • Flesh: firm
  • Best usage: multi-purpose
  1. Red Delicious:
  • Color: deep red
  • Flavor: sweet
  • Flesh: soft flesh
  • Best usage: eating fresh or in fresh foods such as salads
  1. Gala:
  • *Cross: Kidd’s Orange Red and Golden Delicious apple.
  • Color: vary from cream to red and yellow striped background
  • Flavor: sweet and juicy
  • Flesh: Crispy
  • Best usage: snacking
  1. Crispin:
  • Color: green yellowish
  • Flavor: sweet and juicy
  • Flesh: crispy
  • Best usage: all around apple
  1. Braeburn Apple:
  • Color: varies from orange to red with a yellowish background
  • Flavor: sweet and juicy
  • Flesh: crispy
  • Best usage: multi-purpose
  1. Honey Crisp:
  • *Cross between a Macoun and a Honeygold.
  • Color: red and yellow mix
  • Flavor: mild
  • Flesh: crisp
  • Best Usage: snacking, cooking
  1. Jonagold:
  • Color: red-orange blush
  • Flavor: honey – tart
  • Flesh: yellowish crispy
  • Best Usage: eating and cooking
  1. Granny Smith
  • Color: green
  • Flavor: very tart
  • Flesh: greenish
  • Best Usage: all purpose
  1. Empire
  • *Cross: Red Delicious and McIntosh
  • Color: Red with green spots
  • Flavor: sweetish – tart, juicy
  • Flesh: creamy white
  • Best Usage: all purpose
  1. Golden Delicious
  • Color: yellow and yellow with pinkish
  • Flavor: mild, sweet
  • Best Usage: baking
  1. Cameo
  • Color: Red and orange stripes
  • Flavor: sweet
  • Flesh: firm
  • Best Usage:  multi-purpose
  1. Jazz
  • Color: scarlet red with yellowish green patches
  • Flavor: sweet
  • Flesh: firm
  • Best Usage: snacking and baking
  1. Macoun
  • Color: dark red with yellowish patches
  • Flavor: sweet
  • Flesh: tender and juicy
  • Best Usage: snacking, apple cider
  1. Ambrosia
  • Color: yellowish-pink
  • Flavor: sweet honey
  • Best Usage: snacks, baking

16. Paula Red

  • Color: red blush with a yellowish green background
  • Flavor: sweet and tart
  • Best Usage: snacking and baking
  1. Cripps Pink or Pink Lady
  • *Cross: Golden Delicious and Lady Williams.
  • Color: Pinkish
  • Flavor: sweet
  • Best Usage: multi-purpose
  1. Cortland
  • Color: yellowish – green
  • Flavor: tart
  • Flesh: tender
  • Best Usage: snacking

The next time you go to the store for an apple make 3 decisions.

  1. Will you pick an organic or conventionally grown apple?
  2. Will your apples have wax on them?
  3. And how many different varieties do you want for the week?

If there are some apples you cannot find in your grocery store look for Apple Festivals in your area. Or travel to an organic apple orchard to see them growing first hand.

This week I bought organic Pink Lady Apples. I’m going to eat them all, some with peanut butter and some without.

So what apple are you going to buy this week?
And what are you going to do with them?

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