Welcome to apple week! I don’t usually write about one topic five days in a row, but I’m making an exception for this wonderful fruit – after all, who doesn’t like apples? Seriously, after all the debate caused by Friday’s post, I’m looking for a bit of consensus building! So, let’s see if we can all agree that apples are delicious and share our tips, recipes and stories. Enjoy!
Of the seven thousand plus known and catalogued apple species, only a couple of dozen are well known, widely cultivated and sold in significant numbers in Canada. And, of this small number of apples, only a handful has the right texture and consistency to be good for use in recipes. Although many people define a cooking apple as one that’s used primarily for cooking rather than eating fresh, many of my favourite cooking apples are also my favourite eating apples. For instance, I treat apples such as the Granny Smith, Cortland, Spartan and McIntosh as dual purpose fruits.
In a nutshell, by my definitions, an apple qualifies as good for cooking if it has a tangy flavour and a firm flesh that softens but doesn’t break down too much when cooked. For applesauce and apple butter, I have another category that I call sauce apples; apples in this category have great flavour and cook down to a pulpy consistency.
To ensure that you have the right apple for the right usage, simply cut a wedge of apple and place it in a small saucepan. Cover the fruit with water and simmer it until the apple is tender. If the piece stays intact when pierced with a fork and still has a true, desirable apple flavour, then it’s good for skillet cooking and apple desserts where firm pieces of apple are desirable. Use this chart to help you to choose the best apples I’ve found for each type of culinary use:
|Good for cakes, pies, crisps, skillet cooking||Good for baking whole||Good for sauces|
|Northern spy||Granny Smith||Empire|
|Granny Smith||Northern spy||Royal gala|