Tell a chef "there's an app for that," and he or she may think "apples." There's certainly an apple variety for every need, from snacks to stuffing. Some of the best-known and easiest to find are multitaskers, good for both eating and baking. These include Rome, McIntosh and Golden Delicious.
Depending on where you live, you might also find these regional specialties at farmers markets or pick-your-own orchards:
- Arkansas Black. Named for its dark, red color and home state; tart and crunchy when eaten fresh, it stands up well to cooking.
- Grimes Golden. Bright yellow as its name implies, this West Virginia native is sweet and slightly spicy; it's ideal for desserts as well as snacking.
- Northern Spy. Plain in looks but mighty in flavor; this crisp, juicy variety is a pie apple par excellence.
- Honeycrisp. Developed in Minnesota in the 1970s as a sweeter version of older, sharper "heirloom" or "antique" varieties, its bright red color and crunch add appeal to fruit salads.
- Winesap. Sweet with a touch of tartness, like dry wine, this heirloom has been hailed as a cider apple since the early nineteenth century.
Whatever the variety, apples should be free of bruises or mushy spots. Larger apples should be extra firm, as they mature and thus soften more quickly. Look for the characteristic color, but don't be put off by rough brown patches. Keep them at room temperature for immediate eating. Refrigerated in a sealed plastic bag, they'll last about two weeks.