Estimates vary about how many apple varieties there are -- from 7,500, according to the Washington Apple Commission to possibly 10,000, according to the Apple Journal. Some varieties are called by multiple names. There are private and unknown varieties, foreign varieties, new varieties that are being patented and trademarked, and new varieties being discovered.
Apples are versatile
Apples vary in size, from very small to grapefruit-sized. Flavor types are sweet or tart or sweet and tart. About 60 percent of harvested apples are eaten fresh. In 2002, 18 percent went into juice, including cider, 12 percent was canned, including apple slices and applesauce, 3 percent was dried, while 2 percent was frozen and 1 percent didn't go to market. More recent statistics don't differ much. The 2006 U.S. Apple Production and Utilization Analysis broke down 2005 consumption as 62.8 percent fresh, .7 percent fresh slices, 12.2 percent canned,18.6 percent juice and cider, 2.5 frozen, 2 percent dried, .8 other, and 1 percent not marketed.
Processed or Fresh
Fresh apples can be eaten whole, made into salads, served on fruit trays, or made into ornamental displays. Of course, they're delicious in pies too. Jonathan is an older variety that is used for pies, but can be blended with other apple varieties for making apple sauce and cider, which can be sweet, hard, or sparkling. Apples are also used in baby food, apple butter, and apple vinegar and dried to make chips.
Choose the Right Apple
Granny Smith, an apple well-known for its green color and tart flavor, is used for pies, sauce and snacks, including dried apple chips. Jonamac and the well-known Mcintosh are best eaten fresh and made into sauce. There are many apple crosses, including Ginger Gold, descended from a favorite apple of Thomas Jefferson, the Abemarle Pippin. Ginger Gold is a good for salads and cooking.
Sweet or tart or both
Apples are categorized as sweet and tart, sweet or tart. The New York Apple Association lists Braeburn, Cortland and Fortune as sweet and tart apples. These apples are great for eating fresh, in salads or turned into sauces, according to the association’s apple use chart. Cortland and Fortune are also good choices for baking. Old favorites Golden Delicious and Red Delicious are categorized as sweet apples, best for eating fresh and using in salads. Golden Delicious apples can also be used for saucing. Northern Spy, Rome and Twenty Ounce apples are considered tart apples. Northern Spy is good choice for eating fresh, baking and making sauce while Rome and Twenty Ounce are better used only for sauces and baking.