There are more than 7,500 apple cultivars in the world and each differ in size, shape, color, and taste. Some apple varieties are best for cooking, others are best for eating raw, while others are suitable for making cider. While there are countless apple varieties, only about 11-15 varieties dominate the apple market in the United States, making up 90% of all apple sales. Some of the most popular varieties of apples in the U.S. and the rest of the world include Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Cortland, Gala, and Fuji.
Red Delicious is the most popular apple grown in the U.S., valued for its bright red color and crisp, sweet, juicy and mild-tasting flesh, harvested in September and October. It is best eaten raw as a snack or added to salads and fruit cups. First discovered in Peru, Red Delicious was known as hawkeye and was renamed in 1895 by the Stark Brothers.
Golden Delicious, also known as Yellow Delicious, is the second-most grown apple and was first discovered in West Virginia in 1914, then known as Mullin’s yellow seedling. This delicate and sweet apple has a pale yellow or yellow-green color and medium-to-large in size. An all-purpose apple, Golden Delicious is often used to make desserts, salads, and snacks.
Cortland was introduced in 1915 and primarily grown in the northern Great Lakes states, the Northeast, and eastern Canada. It is crisp, juicy, slightly sweet, and tart, with red-and-green striped skin and a white flesh that is resistant to browning, best used for salads and fruit cups.
Gala has thin red-orange-gold skin with an aromatic scent, semisweet taste and yellowish white flesh. It is crisp and juicy, and delicious eaten raw as a snack or paired with mild cheeses.
Fuji apple was developed in Japan in 1958. It has a distinctive pale green skin with blushes of orange and red. Its dense, crisp, and tart flesh makes it ideal for adding to salads, making applesauce, and eating out of hand.
Other popular apple varieties include Ida Red, Empire, Macoun, Northern Spy, McIntosh, Braeburn, Granny Smith, and Winesap.