More than 5,000 apple varieties are grown throughout the world, and more than 2,000 are found in the United States, according to Jerry Goodspeed, Utah State University Extension horticulturist. With so many varieties, it would be difficult to sample each one, let alone choose a favorite.
“About this time each year I often get asked what variety of apple is the best,” said Goodspeed. “I am never quite sure how to answer, but I do have some favorites. I enjoy a crisp, golden delicious apple fresh from the tree. I also like Mutzu or Jonagold apples after they have been chilled in the fridge for a couple of days. However, if I am having a pie, I prefer a Gravenstien or an Idared.”
Many varieties are best eaten directly off the tree. Other apples are just tart enough that they make a wonderful pie when combined with a small wheelbarrow full of sugar, he said. Other varieties are good for saucing or baking, and a couple of varieties are only good for throwing.
“If you decide to add an apple tree to your landscape and make its fruit a delicious part of your fall menu, I have a recommendation,” Goodspeed said. “First, sample a few apple varieties and decide which is your favorite. Many people buy apple trees simply because they are on sale, or they are available. Then they spend the next four or five years growing the tree, only to discover they don’t like the apples.”
To prevent this from happening, visit the apple fruit markets and try different varieties to determine which you prefer, Goodspeed suggested.
“Here is a list of my top ten, favorite apple tree varieties that can be grown in northern Utah. Many others are available, but these are my favorites,” he said.
1. Variety: ‘Akane.’ Ripe: August. Description: Small, bright-red fruit with white, firm, crisp flesh. Very flavorful. Comments: Good, early dessert apple. Light crops, but bear every year. Does not store well.
2. Variety: ‘Cameo.’ Ripe: September-October. Description: Yellow-green under-color, red with prominent gold stripes. Crisp, excellent flavor. Comments: Precocious, grower-friendly, hardy producer. Stores well; high quality. Becoming more popular each year.
3. Variety: ‘Fuji.’ Ripe: Late October. Description: Tapered shape, red stripes. Large, firm, sweet; excellent flavor. Comments: Heavy bearer. Ripens late. Fire blight susceptible. Good keeper.
4. Variety: ‘Gala.’ Ripe: September. Description: Medium, beautiful red color on yellow apple. Firm, crisp, yellow flesh that is juicy and very sweet. Comments: Dessert and fresh-eating apple. Vigorous, heavy bearer. Long, supple branches break easily so it needs careful pruning. Stores well.
5. Variety: ‘Ginger Gold.’ Ripe: August-September. Description: Large, yellow, smooth, tapered shape. Crisp, firm, flavorful. Comments: Great fresh off the tree. Spreading; susceptible to mildew, fire blight.
6. Variety: ‘Golden Delicious’ (‘Yellow Delicious’). Ripe: September. Description: Clear yellow; similar shape to ‘Delicious.’ Highly aromatic, crisp. Comments: Excellent eating and cooking qualities. Excellent pollinator for other varieties.
7. Variety: ‘Gravenstein.’ Ripe: August-September. Description: Red stripes over deep-yellow. Crisp, aromatic, juicy. Comments: Best applesauce variety. Excellent for eating. Not widely grown in Utah. Does not store well.
8. Variety: ‘Honeycrisp.’ Ripe: August-September. Description: Large-sized, crisp, sweet flesh. Comments: Wonderful flavor fresh off of the tree. Does not store well.
9. Variety: ‘Idared.’ Ripe: September-October. Description: Bright red, tart apple with firm, white flesh. Comments: Excellent pie apple. Stores well; sweetens in storage.
10. Variety: ‘Mutsu.’ Ripe: Late October. Description: Medium, greenish-yellow to yellow blushed-red. White, crisp flesh; more tart than ‘Golden Delicious.’ Comments: Good for cooking and baking; long storage life. Tree is exceptionally large and vigorous. Needs pollinator.
By: Julene Reese - Sept. 30, 2004