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Apples: The “Pie Perfect” Fruit

November is peak apple season. They’ve had plenty of time on the tree, and have reached their full potential. Both Willy Street Co-op locations will have a good selection of local and Washington varieties just in time for the holiday season. Locally, look for apples from Future Fruit Farm, Szczukowski Orchard, and Ela Orchard. Both Future Fruit Farm and Ela Orchard have been long-time suppliers of the Co-op, offering an assortment of old time cultivars along with a few newer varieties throughout the season. Look for classics like McIntosh, Cortland, Ida Red, Jonathan, Spartan, Cox Orange Pippin, Red Haralson, and Jonagored. To help you decide which apple is the best choice for you, stop in during our 2013 Apple Tasting, Saturday, November 9th, at Willy East, and Saturday, November 16th, at Willy West.

Below, you’ll find some descriptions compiled by Megan, our Willy West Produce Manager, and a few tips and info to help you with your purchase. We hope to see you at the tasting.

The 2011 Willy Street Co-op Tasting Champion! The Ambrosia is aromatic, with a delicately sweet flavor, firm flesh, and just the right amount of crunch. It can be used for baking, although unlike other baking apples it doesn’t have much tart to balance the sweet.

A mild-flavored apple, with thin skin and a delicious sweet crunch. Best when eaten out-of-hand.

This beautiful apple’s flavor is almost equally balanced between sweet and tart. The Pink Lady a good keeper, with thin skin and dense flesh. It’s a great fresh-eating apple, and is also wonderful for baking.

A classic cooking apple. The Granny Smith has firm flesh that keeps its shape well even when cooked. This tart apple is great for any baking project, and also for eating out-of-hand for those who prefer a less-sweet apple.

This new variety was developed by the University of Minnesota in 2009. It has a crisp texture and sweet flavor with just a hint of tart. The SweeTango is great for eating out-of-hand, and can also be used for baking.

An old-time favorite! Early season McIntosh make an excellent eating apple with beautiful red skin and crisp, juicy white flesh. As they age, Macs soften and sweeten, making them well suited for apple sauce, apple butter, or juice.

This apple originated in Japan. It has a refreshing crispness that makes it a favorite eating apple. The flavor is quite sweet, without much tart. Best when eaten out-of-hand.

A good eating apple with a juicy, crisp, firm texture and a nice balance of sweetness (not too sweet, not too tart). Braeburns also make a reliable baking apple.

The 2012 Willy Street Co-op Tasting Champion! This new variety from Minnesota has taken the world by storm! The Honeycrisp has an outstanding crunch and wonderful sweet, juicy flesh. As they age, honeycrisp tend to soften and lose some of their crispness. Buy them in the early season (October-December) for best quality. Good for baking or fresh-eating.

A dependable all-purpose apple. The gala has a pleasant sweet flavor, and a nice crunch. It keeps well, and is equally good for cooking or fresh eating.

This apple variety is very popular amongst Wisconsin fruit growers. It’s an offspring of the McIntosh and has similar crisp white flesh and snappy skin. The flavor is sweet, with a nice balance of tart. The Cortland softens as it ages, making a great choice for applesauce, juice, or apple butter.

This delicious local apple has a nice crisp texture, beautiful white flesh, and a wonderful flavor that is sweet, but with just enough tartness to make things interesting. Great for both baking and fresh eating.

Tips and Info

  • Apples store best in your refrigerator. Store them away from strong-smelling foods.

  • Choose firm apples that feel solid and heavy when holding in the palm of your hand. Check the apple for bruising. Rub your thumb over the skin; if it wrinkles, it has been in storage too long or has been handled improperly.

  • Apples naturally produce a protective cuticular wax on their skin.

  • Vegetable-based waxes or carnuba wax is applied to apples to replace its natural wax that is often removed in the cleaning process prior to packing.

  • Apples are graded based on their color and size; the deeper the color and the larger the fruit, the higher the grade. USDA grades include: U.S. Extra Fancy, U.S. Fancy, and U.S. No. 1. Washington State has a grading system similar to the USDA grading system; WA Extra Fancy and WA Fancy. WA grades are superior to that of the USDA’s.

  • Apples are high in fiber and pectin.

  • The skin of the apple contains the highest concentration of antioxidants.

  • Three pounds of apples will yield about eight cups of sliced apples.

  • Willy Street Co-op bakers produce a “from-scratch” pie shell that you can purchase in our frozen foods section!

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