What's a tasty apple for apple pie that won't get mushy?
Cortlands are my favorite easy to find apples for baking. Northern Spy, Winesap are harder to find but also great. Also try adding a quince to your apple pies! The quince is an underappreciated fruit that is beautifully carnelian when cooked and tastes as if it has been subtly spiced.
Last Year I Tried Honeycrisp Apples with great results, I also tried them with a mixture of Honeycrisp~Cortlands~Macintosh Apples, and the pies tasted great, so did the Apple Crisp
I have always used Granny Smith apples in my apple pies. They give them just the right amount of tartness so that they're not over-sweet, and they don't fall apart.
Granny Smiths, Macouns, and HoneyCrisps (none of which will fall apart when cooked). It can be really nice to mix apple varieties for more interesting flavor and texture. Love the quince idea from luvcookbooks! I sometimes add seckel pears to an apple pie or crisp.
I just canned 6 quarts of winesaps. They are a crisp apple that were a dream to can. They stayed firm...not mushy...looking forward to making pies with them now and with the canned apples this winter. They are an American heritage apple. Last year I picked some and kept them in my extra cooler for 3 months and they stayed crisp.
Mutsus, also known as Crispins, are amazing. A little sweet and a little tart, nice and firm, and in season they hold up perfectly. (I cannot speak for ones that have been stored for any period of time.) They are very similar to Winesaps, but are a bit larger. Speaking of size, make sure that when you purchase your apples, you pick ones that are all about the same size, and that when you peel and slice them, you make the pieces fairly uniform. I really like mixing varieties of apples when baking them (or making applesauce, or apple butter, or apple mustard, etc.) to get a more interesting flavor. I typically combine Fujis and Mutsus and, as others have suggested, I add a few quince, if I can get them. I don't know where you are, but if you can get Jonamacs (a cross between a Jonathan and a Macintosh), I'd probably try those, too. I bought some in Madison, WI when there in August and they were amazing eating apples. The farmer who sold them told me that they are also great in pies. Finally, I know that some people highly recommend Golden Delicious for pies. I have found that unless a Golden Delicious is very green, it breaks down too much in baking. At least that has been my experience with the Golden Delicious I've bought on the West Coast, even in season. Have fun!! ;o)
I love a mix of winesap and granny smith apples. Sometimes I add a pear or a red delicious so that there's a little mush to hold everything together. I've started adding about a quarter cup of crabapple jelly to the mix too, it adds a nice tartness, a beautiful colour and I canned way too much last year.
It is too late to find them this year, but when in season (early) Gravenstein apples are the most delicious apple that I have ever tasted. They grow in Sebastopol in Sonoma County in California. If you get a chance to taste a Gravenstein apple or an apple pie , don't miss it. Unfortunately, they do not travel well, so you have to visit to try.
Someone has already mentioned HoneyCrisps...they are wonderful. I would also recommend Firesides and Ida Reds. Nice late crop apples.
If you can get Empire, try those. It's a cross between a Golden Delicious and Macintosh. Sweet, crisp, tart. Yum.
I mean a Red Delicious and a McIntosh! Stick them in pie with some Goldens and Grannys. So so good.
Cortlandt, and stayman winesap (yum!!), empire, fuji, gala, and honeycrisp, to name a few.
Granny Smiths can and do turn into mush. There was just an article in Cook's Illustrated on this. I made a crisp with them anyway and they turned to chunky mush, but was extremely delicious anyway. CI say use Golden Delicous (and less sugar.) I have heard great things about Honeycrisp. There is a pie thread here on the same subject, where the pie maker used Granny's and they turned into mush, never had happened to her before. Some theorize that she used stored apples since Granny's usually come in a bit later, so the difference is old apple vs. new.
Well, the CI recommendation that Golden Delicious be used just proves that the only rule here is that there is no rule . . . except perhaps how ripe/how recently picked ultimately determines which apple is "best." I have been layering -- very carefully stacking uniform slices, packing them in -- for years, since I decided one day that apple pies would be greatly improved by making them more like a good, thick, well-made and not sloppy apple strudel. And since realizing that apple butters are always better with a variety of apples, I've been layering by variety. My experience has been that Golden Delicious, at least the ones we get out here at our (very good) farmers' markets in Northern California, are actually the LEAST reliable. I once put them in a middle layer and really didn't like the results. Here's a tip, by the way .. . .if you're mixing apples, put the least reliable one, i.e., the one you think is most likely not to stay firm, on the bottom. If that bunch of apples turns into mush, the other apples will settle into it. You don't want the mushy layer anywhere else. ;o)