Our sweet-to-tart rating: 4/5
Winesap apples are the all-purpose apple variety. The outer skin is a deep burgundy color, and the inner flesh a hue of yellow. Unlike many other apple blossoms, Winesap blossoms are a light pink rather than white. Because of its wine-like flavor and firm flesh, this apple variety has a prominent history for being used in ciders, juices and preserves. Contrary to the idea that it is “juicy,” the Winesap keeps its firmness under heat, making it an exemplary baking apple as well.
Our rating: 2/5
Otherwise known as Crispin apples, Mutsu will accompany any sweet bread, salad or cheese board. This apple, developed in Japan, debuted in that country’s markets in the 1930s and hit European and American markets under the name Crispin in the 1940s. Being a dessert apple, the Mutsu brings a sweet flavor to pies and tarts or when cubed in muffins and bread. It’s mild on the spice index of apples, making for a perfect pairing with a crisp white Michigan wine and a semi-sharp cheese. (We recommend Raspberry Bellavitano from The Cheese People of Grand Rapids.)
Our rating: 3/4
Originating from New Zealand, the Braeburn apple is a cross between the Lady Hamilton apple and crowd favorite, the Granny Smith. With orange streaks that vary in depth of color depending on the climate the Braeburn is grown in, this apple is sure to catch your eye. Braeburns are crisp, with a thin skin that crunches easily into a pale yellow, lightly spicy fruit. With hints of nutmeg, pear, and even cinnamon notes, this apple is one that covers all needs. Good for eating fresh off the branch or for baking, applesauce, ciders, jams and dinner dishes, this apple is one to be on the lookout for during harvest season.
Our rating: 5/5 for the initial flavor, 2/5 for long-term flavor.
The Arkansas Black is what we consider a “shapeshifter.” With a heavy burgundy-black color, this apple begins as a tart, dense fruit that’s perfect to eat off the branch. The Arkansas Black is also perfect for ciders and baking, since it keeps its firm consistency and will stay months in prime condition in cold storage. However, during long-term storage, this apple changes to a smooth, soft dessert apple.
Our rating: 1/5
A dusty-red-hued gem accented with small gold spots, this early season varietal is a beauty on the chopping block. Paula Reds were developed in Sparta, Michigan, by Lewis Arrends. He found a by-chance seedling in his orchard and decided to give it a try. The seedling became a successful bloom, and he ended up naming this offspring of the McIntosh apple after his wife, Pauline. Paula Reds are sweet in flavor but over time can become mealy in texture. That being said, they make for an outstanding applesauce base. We view the Paula Red as one of those American standby apples — traditional, sweet, and easy to eat.