pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.
Pink Lady would be my favorite variety.
Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.
My favs for pie r empire, goldens, grannys. A trio of diff. textures/sweetness/flavors all in one pie.
GRAVENSTEINS are the best apple for pie. When they are in season they don't travel well so it is very hard to find them. But if you can...wow! They grow a lot in a little area of Sonoma County called Sebastopol which used to be covered with orchards. But, unfortunately that area has become a big grape growing region and a lot of the orchards have been ripped out to plant grapes which belong the the Russian River AVA.
Honeycrisps are a delicious alternative. They are sweet and crunchy. I often eat them before they are able to make it into my pie.
I much prefer a really tart apple for baking. In the UK we used to get all kinds of interesting varieties at the farmers' market. My usual favorite for baking were Braeburns, which I could find even at the supermarket. I just think grannies and goldens are too blandly sweet for baking.
In the UK they do sell 'cooking apples', which are Bramleys, but they have this magic quality of turning to mush when you cook them. Great for applesauce, but not so good for pies...as I discovered through experience.
I have to say that I still like Macs for pie because of their flavor. I cook them so they maintain the shape of the slices and not longer. A friend just gave me a slew of heirloom Roxbury Russets and Baldwins which I will be testing out.
I like to use a variety of apples in a pie - or at least 2 different apples. It provides some nice texture contrasts and flavor depth. Granny Smiths are a drier, hard apple, so mixing them with a juicier apple like Honey Crisp or a harder apple like Pink Lady or a softer apple like Fuji or Empire can be a good way to go. I think of Gravenstein's as being one of the softest apples, making them great for applesauce. I think of softer apples that don't hold their shape quite as well as Fuji, Empire, Macs and Gravensteins. Harder apples that will more easily hold their shape in cooking are Grannies, Pippin, Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Johnny Golds. Hardest are Pink Lady and Black Arkansas. Pink Ladies, if you can find them, are really wonderful.
Regardless of what your favorite apple is, a variety of apples in a pie will make for a more interesting and well-rounded taste. ChezSuzanne is right on.
What ever ones come off a tree and I don't have to pay for. I like the idea of a variety though!
thanks, guys! what a terrific resource!
AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
I'm totally with pierino and ChezSuzanne on the Pink Ladies. Especially a local one that's been picked in the last few days. Now that's what an apple should taste and smell like. I am crazy about Mutsus (aka Crispins), too. They are a bit tart, and hold their shape really well, and have exactly the right amount of juice when baked . . . . but they tend to be huge, so they require more attention and thought when cutting for cooking. But they are wonderful, both out of hand and in the pie. ;o)
Idareds. Northern Spies. Cortlands.
I love northern spies, cortland, winesaps, and rome beauty.
I've used Golden and Roxbury Russets, too. But I think they make better applesauce than pies.
Growing up on an apple orchard in Ohio, we tell customers to use every type they can get their hands on except red delicious. (Red delicious will turn grainy and mushy if you try to cook with them.) Just cut big, thick slices of softer apples, and smaller slimmer slices of firm hard apples.
My ideal pie would have Northern Spy, Jonalicious, Grimes Golden, Haralson, McIntosh, and Cox's Orange Pippen...
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