While it would be impossible to create a definitive list of apples for the purposes of this book – there are so many that it would be an encyclopedia in itself – I wanted to share a small selection of the most popular cooking and eating apple varieties that are widely available, some more common than others but each with their own distinctive flavour and story to tell.
1. Annie Elizabeth
A particularly sweet cooking variety that works well in cakes as it keeps its shape, which make it ideal for decorating the tops of tarts and galettes.
2. Blenheim Orange
A dual-purpose variety that can be eaten as well as cooked. Great in dessert, crumbles and cakes.
Originally grown in New Zealand, this is a hardy and robust eating apple. Juicy, well balanced and with an interesting taste combination that includes a subtle hint of nutmeg and cinnamon flavours, Braeburns hold their shape when cooked and are great stuffed and baked.
There is a reason why Bramleys are the undisputed king of the cookers: they have a durable, bitter sharp-flavour that mellows and sweetens when cooked. Bramleys are known the world over and easy to find in supermarkets. They also have a fascinating history, hailing from Southwell in Nottinghamshire UK, they were first recorded in 1809. The original tree that bore the very first Bramley apple fruit is still alive and producing apples each year, two centuries on.
5. Chivers Delight
Not dissimilar to a Cox’s, this has a good balance of sweet and sharp and a subtle aroma. It can be eaten raw or used in cooking.
Arguably the most famous – and delicious, if you ask me – eating apple in the world, the Cox’s Orange Pippin, to use its full title, is crisp, juicy and perfectly balanced. Intensely sweet but with a hefty level of sharp flavour, it can be eaten raw and used in cooking and baking too, where it keeps its shape well.
Tiny green or blush-coloured apples that are about the size of a large cherry, crab apples have beautiful blossom and have recently been grown for their decorative properties rather than to be eaten, however they have an amazingly tangy flavour when cooked. Generally, they are too sharp to be eaten raw, unless picked at the end of the season, but they are great in pies and make perfect preserving apples for jams and jellies due to their very high pectin levels. pectin levels.
Originally from the county of Essex in the UK, Discovery apples are crisp and juicy with hints of strawberry in the flavour. Nicely balanced between sweet and sharp, they are ideal eaten raw in salads or juiced.
9. Egremont Russet
A very distinctive eating apple from the Russet family with golden-yellow, rough skin, Egremont Russet has a distinctive nutty and even smoky flavour, which makes them particularly delicious for juicing.
One of my favourite apples and similar in flavour and composition to the Cox’s, which is actually its parent, Fiestas have a balanced sharp and sweet flavour, are aromatic and easily cooked, eaten raw or juiced. The skin is also the most wonderful deep red colour.
Hailing from Japan with a crisp, juicy and sweet flavour, Fuji apples are generally best eaten raw, sliced into salads or used in drinks.
12. Golden Delicious
A very popular eating apple in the UK and Europe, Golden Delicious are crisp and juicy with a rich, sweet flavour when picked late in the season. An ideal eating apple, it needs to be used in simple, delicate dishes when cooked to avoid it being overshadowed by stronger, bolder flavours.
13. Granny Smith
Intensely juicy, bold, sharp and packing a punch, Granny Smith is a hugely popular eating apple that also holds its own when cooked, in terms of both flavour and shape. Granny Smith can be cooked in many ways and is also great for juicing.
Crisp and sweet, a diverse eating apple that can be used across the board, from roasting to juicing. They are particularly good dried or made into apple crisps.
15. James Grieve
A dual-purpose apple that is great when cooked in pastries and pies, but particularly when juiced, and you can also eat it raw, but you need to wait until later in the season when the fruit sweetens. A great alternative to Bramley.
A very young variety in apple terms, having been grown for the first time in New Zealand in the 1980s, Jazz apples are very juicy and crunchy with a sweet/ tart balance and almost pear-like flavour. They can be used in pies, baking and are great in drinks too.
17. Red Delicious
Mild, sweet and delicately flavoured, Red Delicious are a popular and widely available eating apple in the USA, in particular. Although similar to the Golden Delicious in its flavour, the two are not actually related. Good for eating, this isn’t a great apple to cook with due to its delicate flavour.
18. Red Falstaff
Usually eaten fresh and great for juicing, this apple has an aromatic flavour and sweet-sharp balance.
19. Royal Gala
One of the most widely available apples on the planet, Royal Gala apples are crisp, juicy and sweet with floral and vanilla notes. Incredibly diverse, Royal Galas are great eating apples and can also be used in salads, chutneys and preserves, baking, and even diced into burger patties.
20. Worcester Pearmain
First noted in 1874, the Worcester Pearmain is a crisp, aromatic apple with unusual strawberry notes. All the recipes give suggested varieties that should be readily available. However, if you are lucky enough to be able to search out local varieties, simply use the suggestions to pick an unusual variety that has similar qualities.
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Cover courtesy of Hardie Grant
Excerpted with permission from Apple: Recipes from the Orchard by James Rich, published by Hardie Grant Books September 2019, RRP $29.99 Hardcover.