How to Pick Apples

How to Pick Apples

With more than 7,500 varieties, how can you ever decide which apples to pick? On a mission, Eataly Magazine teamed up with apple experts (yes, they exist) to get the final word. 

For this guide, we spent some quality time with our amici at Seedling Farms in South Haven, MI (read about their Science of Sweetness), and Brightonwoods Orchard, in Burlington, WI, on one of the state's scenic Rustic Roads between Milwaukee and Chicago. After we delivered a selection of the most popular (and tasty) apple recipes, they told us how to choose the best variety.

brightonwoods orchard apple


An age-old classic, the apple strudel can be tricky! Because of the baking time, the apple should be just soft enough to create the most delicious union between apple and pastry (but avoid the mush effect).

The experts recommended Granny Smith or Honeycrisp — or a mix of both! These apples are just hard enough to stand the heat (literally!) and have the perfect amount of tart to add a kick to your pastry that will leave you reaching for more.

Pranzo August Dish 3 apple strudel gelato


For apple sauce, we agreed with our farm friends when they suggested mixing different types of apples together to make the most amazing apple sauce. When you blend the flavors, you can add a seasonal touch and unique depth to the apple sauce.

After a few taste tests and recipe adventures, we landed on a few different varietals: Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Pippin, Gravenstein, Fugi, Jonathan, Mcintosh, or Jonagold.

apple crates


Most caramel apple artists go for the basic: Granny Smith. We think the apple is almost as (if not more) important than the toppings, so we wanted to challenge this standard.

Our experts suggested keeping in line with apples that are good for baking, such as Pippin, Pink Lady, Jonathan, Jongold, and Cameo. If you've got a super-sweet tooth, you could try a sweet apple like Red Delicious, but its soft texture and sweet taste won't add as much flavor to your treat.

caramel apple (2)


Apple chips are essentially dehydrated fruit; the nuanced flavor is not the most important quality. When selecting the variety, there really is no wrong way to go, as all apples can be transformed into crispy chips, but it is important to look for apples that hold their shape and again, can stand the heat.

We had the most luck with Granny Smith and Golden Delicious.

granny smith apples


To make apple cider at home, collect a mixture of apples that will give the drink balanced sugar, acidity, and tannins.

Sweet apples include Fuji, Gala, Baldwin, Braeburn, and Roxbury Russet; among acidic apples are McIntosh, Northern Spy, and Winesap; and tannic apples range from Cortland and Pippin. For the perfect blend of crisp fall cider (both alcoholic and not!), our experts recommend at least one from each category.

apple cider


Finally, enjoy an apple a day the Eataly way!  We love to eat a mela da sola (apple on its own). For this, the experts advise to pick, taste, and repeat. From the sweet Golden Delicious to the tart Baldwin, the options are endless.

To make your tasting adventure official, record your apple notes and learn to pair with cheese by exploring and downloading our guide here!

apple cheese tasting party

Buon appetito!