It’s back y’all: Fall. And just as summer is heralded by the piles of fire engine-red tomatoes, autumn’s true signal is apples from favorites like Golden Delicious and Galas to heirloom varieties like Red June and Father Abraham.
In fact, apples boasting colorful names like Arkansas Black, Sally Gray, Summer Orange, and Red Rebel are just a few of the 1,800 known apple varieties developed in the South since Jamestown was established. While you might associate picturesque scenes of apple orchards with places Up North like Washington and Minnesota, apple trees were once a Southern staple. “We have forgotten that apples were grown on farms in every part of the South for centuries,” writes Creighton Lee Calhoun Jr., the South’s Indiana Jones of heirloom apples.
How About Them Apples
Whether you’re looking for the ever-popular Honeycrisp or a lesser known name, here are some points to keep in mind:
- You might be familiar with what apples taste better in pies and which ones are a great afternoon snack, but picking the right apple for salads, coleslaw, even pizza can be tricky. Think about the flavor profile of your dish. If you have a tart or mustard-y dressing, you might want to pick a more sugary apple, but a drier apple would pair better with caramelized onions or a sweeter coleslaw recipe.
- Like Joni Mitchell, you shouldn’t obsess over spots on your apples, but avoid apples with soft or rotten patches. They produce more ethylene gas and will indeed spoil the whole bunch.
- If you think of the major apple varieties as The Rolling Stones, universally heard and beloved, then heirloom types are more like William Elliott Whitmore or Dr. Dog. Just like you might ask your music nerd friend about which album to start with, you can ask your favorite vendor at the farmers market how to appreciate or cook an apple you might not know the taste of yet.
- While apples do look lovely in a bowl on the counter, they will develop a mealy texture in just 48 hours. Kept in the crisper of your refrigerator, they will stay fresh for 3 weeks.
- To freeze apples, start by peeling, coring, and slicing them into wedges and place them on a baking sheet that can fit in your freezer. Brush them with ascorbic acid according to the package instructions or diluted lemon juice to prevent browning. Freeze for 30 minutes on the baking sheet and transfer to a freezer bag.
What To Make
To help you make the most out of apple season, we have brought all our apple recipes together into one easy-to-use slideshow. Check out these 101 Apple Recipes from Southern Living.