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They say one a day keeps the doctor away, but you could go more than 20 years experimenting with a new daily apple to do the trick.
That’s because there are over 7,500 types of apples grown around the world – but the staggering number is not without good reason.
Sweet or tart, crispy or mealy, always portable and good in everything from juice, cider and vinegar to salads, cake and pie, apples may technically be fruits, but they’re the true soup-to-nuts of the food world.
That sheer mind-boggling volume can make even the humblest apple cart intimidating, but don’t worry. We’ve highlighted enough apple varieties below to keep your doctor at bay for—well, maybe not 20 years, but a good, long while at least. Salud!
Types of Red Apples
Apple is almost synonymous with red, and as the fruit’s flagship color, there’s no lack of cultivars sporting the vibrant hue.
Red apples are the most popular type of apples in the world, with thousands of varieties to try – and more being developed all the time. That’s great news for apple enthusiasts, slightly less great for list compilers.
Still, some of the most popular varieties have stayed true over the years, including:
- Red Delicious: One of the all-time most popular kind of apple, this cultivar is famous for its deep red hue, solid crunch and sweet-meets-tart flavor. But America’s apple almost never came to be. The Red Delicious was a famously chance seedling, with farmer Jesse Hiatt so incensed by its original carrier, he tried three times to chop down the tree before giving up. Still, he was apparently appreciative enough by the time his tree bore fruit to bring the apple to a local market, where it was purchased by the owners of a nearby nursery. The rest, as they say, is delicious history.
- Honeycrisp: Another apple varietal whose name gives it all away, this popular cultivar is, indeed, crispy and sweet – though not quite as sweet as honey. Its beautiful green-speckled skin and bright juicy bites make it not only fun to eat but ideal for a number of different recipes, and a consummate staple in many households.
- Fuji: Getting its start in Japan in the 1930s, this type of apple was actually a mix of two American breeds. But it has gone on to be its own very beloved thing, thanks in no small part to its pretty red-and-yellow speckles, crunchy bites and extra-sweet fruit.
- Gala: It might be from New Zealand, but this is no Kiwi. The gala apple rivals perhaps only the Red Delicious as the most popular variety for snacking, with a super sweet taste, solid crunch and beautiful mottled pink and yellow skin.
- Pink Lady: Another apple from below the equator, the Pink Lady was originally developed in Australia in the 1970s. Its staying power in the apple world might be attributed to its firm flesh, tarty flavor and eponymous skin, which can come off quite a vibrant shade of pink.
- Ambrosia: Named for the famous food of the gods in Greek mythology, this Canadian-born varietal is a medium-to-large type of apple with a glossy slicky skin that comes in shades of red, pink and yellow – plenty for us mere mortals to enjoy.
- McIntosh Red: Also called a Mac, this cultivar bears fruit that feels more tender than most, an easily bruised, deep red skin, and a shorter- and rounder-than-usual shape. We wonder if those were the types of qualities Steve Jobs had in mind when picking the name for his computers.
- Jazz: This type of apple was developed in New Zealand – far away from the American streets where the music it was named for was born. Still, we think its crisp and tangy taste and bright yellow and red skin is pretty cool.
- Pacific Rose: Named for the dusty beautiful color of its skin, this varietal is crispy, sweet and juicy. It was first developed in New Zealand, and didn’t make it across the pond until 1996, but today it’s a popular apple variety grown in Washington State.
Types of Yellow Apples
It might mean slow down in the world of traffic, but it’s hard not to scarf down these colored apples in the world of taste.
Yellow apples aren’t nearly as prolific as their red – or even their green – cousins, but that just makes each cultivar that much more special.
Some of the most popular types of yellow apples include:
- Golden Delicious: Showing old Red that it’s not the only delicious in town, this popular variety of yellow apple strikes almost the perfect balance of flavor, thanks to its mellow mixture of tart and sweet and crispy-but-not-too-much crunch. Red, consider yourself warned!
- Opal: First developed in Prague, this really is a gem of an apple. The Opal variety has a sweet and tangy flavor mixed with crunchy bite into flesh known for its resistance to browning.
- Crispin: An offshoot of the Golden Delicious, these apples can look almost green on the outside. On the inside, they’re crunchy, juicy and sweet and particularly good for baking.
Types of Green Apples
Perhaps the most controversial of apple shades, green apples are typically either loved or hated. Some people may call them bitter – but we think they might just be showing that certain shade of envy.
Any way you slice it, there are a few types of green apples that seem particularly popular, including:
- Granny Smith: The classic of the color, this traditional cultivar puts the apple in apple pie. Seriously—Granny Smiths are perhaps most well-known for a dense flesh and tart flavor that balances out the sugar and withstands the heat of baking.
- Pippin: This varietal is actually older than its Granny, dating all the way back to the 1700s. Named after the chance seedling it sprang from (which is called, in the farming world, a pip), this type of apple has similar qualities to its more famous relative, sporting a glossy green skin, stark crunch and tart flesh.
- Ginger Gold: A Virginia native from the 1960s, this type of apple isn’t pure green – it gets its Golden name from the yellow Delicious with which it was cross-bred. Still, it maintains a green presence on the outside, while inheriting the sweeter inside of its yellower parent.