The apple season cycle begins in summer with special varieties appearing across the country: the Gravenstein out West (an endangered heirloom variety), Ginger Gold apples back East, and Paula Reds in the Midwest, to name just a few. The season goes the year around with its peak in fall, the high noon of appledom with heritage breeds. Fabulous names like Baldwin, Mutsu, Spencer, Spitzenburg, Stayman Winesap, or Zabergau Reinette reading like a Who’s Who of American fruity history. Apples with a longer growing season, like Gala, Fuji, and Red Delicious, carry us through until the clock strikes again.
There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,500 apple varieties worldwide, with an estimated 2,500 varieties grown in the U.S. They come in a range of colors from the deep burgundy of an Arkansas Black to the sunlight-yellow Golden Delicious. And their flavors criss-cross the taste and texture spectrum from tart to sweet and from firm to tender. As the seasons and the regions dole out different apples, we at The FruitGuys encourage you to take note of the various flavors and textures. Experiment by doing a taste test, í la tea or wine connoisseurs. Take in a little air with each tasting bite and cleanse your pallet with water between varieties.
Apples keep for a few days on the counter but like it best at 32 °F. Keep them in the fridge in a ventilated bag. Varieties differ widely—firmer apples can often keep for months in the fridge, where tender apples are best eaten within a week or two.