The right stuff

Monday apple

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
Idared Jonagold McIntosh
Granny Smith Northern spy Royal gala
Spartan Mutsu/Crispin Greenstein
Cortland Cortland

19 Responses to The right stuff

  1. I was at the Farmers’ Market this weekend and the apples looked fabulous. I couldn’t make up my mind which to buy, so got a bag of “the works” — a mix of Cortland, Macs, Galas and Honeydews. Of course, I can no longer tell them apart.

    Love the chart and will likely end up using your “right type of apple” test.

    Thanks for posting this useful information. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

  2. danamccauley says:

    I love that your market sold mixed bags of apples – what a great idea!

  3. Barb says:

    Exactly! The mixed bag would be a big seller in my opinion. I use a lot of apples. I’m pretty much an apple a day girl in the fall, winter and spring.

  4. Amy says:

    That is a terrific idea – mixed bag of apples – I would love that too!
    I am excited to see all the apple postings.
    I’ve had a yen to make tarte tatin so I think I will let apple week inspire me.
    My grandma always used Idareds for her pies but I haven’t seen them in store lately.
    BTW great post on fois gras, there were so many comments, my screen wouldn’t give me room to make one of my own.

  5. Laura says:

    If anyone is looking for organic apples, go to the corner of Reesor Road and 19th ave. in Markham — organicsfarm.ca. this weekend. Great picking for kids because the trees are little (it’s their first crop). After 10:30 am they have the most delicious bread and pies ready from the brick wood-fired oven.

  6. Natashya says:

    We are lucky enough to live near a couple of orchards with shops open to the public. I love buying fresh bushels of apple this season. I have a great juicer that only seems to get a workout in the fall!
    My only wish is that they reduce the pesticides. Apples are one of the dirtiest crops for chemicals. That thought sort of mars my enjoyment.. no matter how well I wash them.

  7. What a gorgeous opening photo Dana!! I am lucky to get a good variety of apples in my organic fruit and veg box, and some gorgeous windfalls from my friends tree too.

    • danamccauley says:

      Thanks!

      Speaking of WIndfall apples, I’ve been invited to a windfall cider party on Saturday. My son and I are going to go and see how a friend of my mom’s makes his home pressed cider.

      Needless to say, I’ll take my camera and notepad and write about it here, too.

  8. It is all about the Honeycrisps right now. For out of hand and baking. Picked up a load of organic ones at the Penticton Farmers’ Market on the weekend.

  9. Diva says:

    Hooray, its apple season … and apple week at Dana’s place! I’m excited about both. Love your hand chart. And, needless to say, I love apples. The crisp/tart varieties are my favorites for eating and baking. Looking forward to your selections this week and have fun at that cider party.

  10. Count me as a fan, too. I just need to get rid of this scorching weather we’re still seeing in my area to really make me feel like it’s fall. Apple recipes will certainly help me set the mood.

  11. Shaslam says:

    We’re gearing up for apples picking here too–Sunday morning heading West on Steeles to apple country. I picked up some nice pork roasts this weekend in anticipation of roasting them with apples that come back bruised. With 4 kids lugging the bags around the farm and hauling them up on the tractors we always have a few that aren’t good enough for the fridge. We say we won’t go crazy yet we come back with 6 giant bags–must be 90 pounds of apples! Good thing they don’t weigh us when enter and after we leave!!
    Can’t wait for some new ideas on what to do with them.

  12. Kathryn says:

    I was driving through apple country today (Collingwood-Thornbury-Meaford-Owen Sound). I stopped in Nottawa and bought apples (Honey Crisp, although I was tempted by the Cortlands) from the orchard that my parents used to stop at. I was saddened to see how run down the roadside stand and the orchard looked. As I drove along the Blue Water Route, I was alarmed to see that the developers are taking over the orchards. What will we do when we have paved over all the farms and orchards?

    • danamccauley says:

      We will cry ourselves to sleep! The good news is that there are still some orchards in protected areas. I go to one in King City that I doubt would be approved for development. And, I think the Greenbelt.ca people have something to say about other places where apples grow.

      What it comes down to though is all of us buying local apples and getting out a picking a few ourselves to keep the local growers in biz!!

  13. maris says:

    I love apples and everything you can make/bake with them! Great reference chart too, it’s easy to forget which type is which. I bought honey crisp at the Farmer’s Market last week and bought Gala yesterday!

  14. Eric says:

    I love Ambrosia apples from Canada.

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