Cooking School – The 20 Most Popular Apple Varieties

By / Food / October 15th, 2009 / 1

Except for those northerly areas where the wind blows a little more coldly and fiercely, apple trees bloom over most of Canada. It shouldn’t be too hard at all to find an orchard near you for some fresh-picked bounty. Bananas may be the most popular fruit in the world, but Canadians certainly love their apples. We cook them up into pies, crumbles and muffins, lay them over pork roast, drizzle apple cider vinegar over salads; we even sip apple wine. And of course, there’s little that compares to biting into a fresh, juicy apple.

Apple Varieties

There are literally hundreds of apple varieties grown in Canada. Don’t be surprised if Macintosh, Red or Golden Delicious and Empire are all you’ve seen at your local grocer’s. Most supermarkets carry only the most common varieties. And if you’ve never heard of, or seen, a heritage variety, you’re not alone. They aren’t the prettiest of apples. Grocery store managers consistently argue that shoppers prefer to buy the model-like wannabes — perfectly shaped and blemish-free. That fact makes it hard for organic apple farmers to sell their harvest. It’s also too bad for us. With only a handful of varieties available, we’re missing out on some of the most flavourful apples grown.

Find your favourites among the 20 most popular apples in Canada. Here they are in no particular order.

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Variety                                          Fresh             Pies             Sauce

Cortland – aromatic/sweet               x                    x                    x

Empire – sweet/tart                          x                    x                    x

Granny Smith – sweet/tart                                     x                    x

Golden Delicious- aromatic/sweet   x                   x                     x

Red Delicious – aromatic/sweet       x                   x                     x

Greensleeves – crisp/tart                                      x                     x

Liberty – crisp/tart                                                 x                     x

McIntosh – tart                               x                     x                     x

Ida Red – sweet                             x                     x                     x

Northern Spy – crisp/tart                                      x                     x

Empire – sweet/tart                        x                    x                     x

Paula Red – sweet                         x                    x                     x

Gala – aromatic/sweet                   x                    x                     x

Jonagold – sweet/tart                     x                    x                     x

Braeburn – sweet                           x                    x                     x

Ginger Gold – crisp/sweet              x                    x                     x

Spartan – crisp/tart                                              x                      x

Honeycrisp – sweet/tart                 x                    x                      x

Jonamac – tangy/sweet                 x                    x                      x

Mutsu – sweet                                x                    x                      x



Heritage Varieties

The word “heritage”, in the case of food, refers to varieties that were around before the 1900. More apple varieties were grown back then than you might imagine. Heritage apples are usually a lot more flavourful and disease resistant than modern varieties. Here are some heritage types you should definitely ask for. My favourite is Snow.

Snow (Fameuse) – Ruby red skin and perfectly white on the inside. It’s juicy, aromatic and sweet. Perfect for eating fresh or as applesauce.

Golden Russet – Aromatic and sweet. Great for eating fresh and making cider.

Wealthy – Juicy, aromatic and tart. Eat fresh or bake into a pie.

Wolf River – Very large apple (sometimes weighing up to one pound) and tart. Use in pies.



Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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