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The Best Apples in the Big Apple

Fall harvest is finally here — a time to celebrate the Empire State’s official fruit! With around 29 million bushels (~125 medium apples per bushel) harvested annually, it’s easy to see why. According to the NY State Apple Association, New York grows more apple varieties than any other state (over two dozen) and leads the field in varietal innovation. Some unique “born in New York” varieties to try include the Jonagold, Empire and Cortland. New York state has also pioneered controlled atmosphere storage of apples, which makes classic favorites like the McIntosh and Empire available year-round.

Braeburn — September through April
Deliciously plump, crisp red apple with great crunch and a sweet, spicy flavor. Notes of nutmeg and cinnamon. Perfect for pies or tarts, as they don’t release too much juice under heat. Red and orange streaky colors with a yellow and green background hue.

Jonagold — October through May

A cross between Golden Delicious and Jonathan apples, Jonagold’s offer a great balance of honey-sweet and sour acidity. Great for baking because of its thin skin. Fry in butter with a dash of cinnamon for a quick dessert, or just enjoy raw as a fresh, zingy snack.

Cortland — September through April
A child of the McIntosh, created in 1898 at the New York State Agricultural
Experiment Station in Geneva, NY. Sharp, sweet, with a hint of tartness. Cortland apples brown much slower than other apples after being cut, which makes them great in salads, fruit plates, garnishes, or other raw presentations.

McIntosh — year-round

One of New York’s darlings, first found by John McIntosh in 1811. Very popular, all-purpose apple that inspired the name of a widely known computer company. Deep crimson in color, with a bright white flesh. Classic, simple flavor with refreshing tartness and notes of wine.

Empire — year-round
The name says it all. A cross between Red Delicious and McIntosh, developed at Cornell University in 1945. Strong crispiness with vinous notes of melon, or pineapple. Exceedingly classic appearance with a maroon over green color. Known as a classic “lunch-box apple” because it’s firmness doesn’t bruise easily. Versatile in use, great in salads, raw eating, baking, or freezing.

Gala — year-round

Recently surpassing it’s parent cultivar, Red Delicious, as the most popular apple in the country, Gala’s are reliable, mellow apples with sweet flesh and a floral aroma. Though it’s softness makes it less apt for baking, Gala’s offer solid bases to a well-dressed salad and shine when juiced. Look for northern hemisphere Gala’s in Fall-Winter, and southern hemisphere Gala’s in the Spring-Summer.

Golden Delicious — September through June

Mellow yellow. This mild and sweet apple sports a greenish-yellow exterior
with thick skin and juicy flesh, making it a great pick for baking. Classic, nostalgic apple that begs a bit of prudence, as it shrivels and brusies easier than others.