If you’ve visited a farmers’ market or produce stand lately, you’ve probably been amazed at the different types of apples – all juicy and delicious in their own way. However, you’re only seeing a tiny sample of the more than 7,500 varieties of apples grown around the world. Keep reading to learn about apple tree types and a few of the most common apple varieties.
Primary Apple Tree Types
Most domestic apples come from two primary apple tree types. In fact, according to the New Sunset Western Garden Book, most apple tree types are natural hybrids of Malus pumila and Malus sylvestris, native to two overlapping areas in southwestern Asia.
Some apple tree types tolerate cold weather as far north as Alaska, while other apple trees prefer milder climates, including coastal climates and low deserts. However, most apple tree types need at least 500 to 1,000 hours of chilly weather to produce healthy, flavorful apples.
How to identify apple tree varieties? Various varieties are primarily identified by skin color, size, flavor and firmness.
Common Apple Varieties
- Yellow (Golden) Delicious – A sweet, mild apple with bright yellow skin, Yellow Delicious apples are all-purpose apples, good for eating raw or for baking.
- Red Delicious – Very similar to Yellow Delicious, although Red Delicious is not as popular as it once was, due to a rather bland flavor and a mealy texture.
- McIntosh – A bright red apple with a sweet-tart flavor, good for eating raw or cooking into sauce, but doesn’t hold up well for baking.
- Rome – A mild, juicy, slightly sweet apple with bright red skin; flavor improves with sautéing or baking.
- Gala – A heart-shaped, gold apple with a pinkish-orange stripe, Gala is fragrant, crisp and juicy with a sweet flavor; good eaten raw, baked, or cooked into sauce.
- Winesap – An old-fashioned, reddish-violet apple with a spicy flavor; it’s excellent for eating raw and for making cider.
- Granny Smith – A familiar, lime-green apple with a crisp, juicy texture and a tart and tangy flavor; Granny Smith is good raw and works well in pies.
- Fuji – A very sweet, crisp apple with skin that ranges from deep red to greenish-yellow with red highlights, and is good either raw or baked.
- Braeburn – A unique apple with a thin skin and a sweet, tart, slightly spicy flavor; it’s very good for eating raw, also holds up well for baking. Color ranges from red to greenish-gold.
- Honeycrisp – Appropriately named for its moderately crunchy texture and sweet, slightly tangy flavor; good for any purpose.
- Pink Lady – A firm, crunchy apple with a tart, slightly sweet flavor, good raw or baked.