How to Choose the Best Apples for Baking and Eating
(NC) Whether you get them from your local pick-your-own farm, farmers’ markets or in grocery stores, apple season is here. And with Ontario’s apple farms in full swing, there’s a bounty of varieties ready to be enjoyed. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide which to enjoy as a snack and which to bake into an apple pie? Here, Tom and Carol Chudleigh, founders of Chudleigh’s, an Ontario pick-your-own apple farm, share their tips on fall’s favourite fruit.
Best for school lunches. “Overall, Galas are one of the most popular apple varieties because of how sweet, crisp and juicy they are. They’re a sure bet with kids,” explains Tom. Another option available at pick-your-own farms is the Mini Kerr apple. This variety is just as crisp and delicious as the Gala, but much smaller - about the size of a golf ball - so you can toss a few into your child’s lunchbox.
Best for fruit platters. Avoiding browning is key to a perfect platter, which makes the Cortland and Creston (a Canadian-bred apple) an excellent choice. “If you’re cutting them up and serving to guests, I always recommend Cortland or Creston apples - they don’t brown as quickly and keep their crisp and delicious look for longer,” says Carol. Can’t find them in your local grocery store? Honeycrisp apples are another great option.
Best for pies. There’s more to look for in a dessert apples than sweetness. Carols says that good baking apples have a balance of sweet-tart flavour and texture. “We use Northern Spy apples to make our Apple Blossoms and pies because they stay crisp when baked, holding their shape without turning into mush.” In case you can’t make it out to your local pick-your-own farm or farmers markets where the Northern Spy apples are found, Carol also recommends Ambrosia or the more readily available Golden Delicious and Granny Smith.
Best for wine and cheese. Truth be told, plenty of apples pair deliciously with wine and cheese. “Farm fresh apples bring a natural twist to a cheese board,” says Tom. “But it’s about finding perfect pairings.” Honeycrisp apples pair beautifully with Camembert and Cabernet Sauvignon. If you like a stronger cheese, Mutsu apples are a delicious option that pair with Gorgonzola and Merlot.