Apple Cultivar Characteristics

Over 7,000 types of apples are grown in the world, yet American markets offer only a handful of different varieties for sale. Commercial apple growers select the apple varieties that grow best in their specific locality. The apple varieties also must have the best traits for eating fresh, baking or cooking, storage and shipping. All purpose and multi-purpose apple varieties are also popular with home orchard owners and hobby growers.

Red Delicious

Red Delicious apples have a rather elongated shape. The skin is deep, dark red, and the flesh is crisp and white. Red Delicious are fairly thin-skinned and very sweet, which makes them good for eating out of hand or in fruit salad. When cooked, the texture of Red Delicious apples does not hold up well, but they make fine applesauce and they freeze well. Red Delicious apples store well and are available all year.

Golden Delicious

Except for the similar names, Golden Delicious apples are not related to Red Delicious. They are yellow apples with thin skin, and they are crisp and sweet, but a bit more tart than Red Delicious. Golden Delicious apples are good for eating fresh as well as for freezing, cooking and baking. They have good texture and they will hold their shape as baked apples and in pies and other recipes. Golden Delicious apples are available year round.

Granny Smith

Granny Smith apples are green apples with a taste that is somewhat balanced between tart and sweet. They are excellent for eating fresh in salads or out of hand. The texture of these apples holds up very well to cooking and baking, and they make smooth applesauce. Granny Smith apples freeze nicely, too. They keep a long time in storage, and they are available all year long.


Jonathan apples are all purpose apples that are used for eating fresh, cooking, baking and freezing. They are bright red, rather tart, with creamy flesh. Jonathans keep well, and they can be found in markets from September through May.


Jonagold apples are a cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious. They are a bright red apple. They are sweetly tart, and are excellent all purpose apples. Jonagolds are available from October through May.


MacIntosh apples are sweet, and are favorites for fresh apple snacks. These red and green apples are good in pies, but they tend to lose texture in other baking. They do not hold up for freezing. MacIntosh apples make great applesauce. They keep well in storage, and are available from September through June.


Braeburn apples are light red in color, and they are another all purpose apple. They are sweet and mildly flavored. Use them for eating fresh, cooking, pies, applesauce and freezing. Braeburn apples are available from October to July.


Gala apples have a yellow background with light red blush. Gala are sweet apples, favorites for eating fresh and for salads. They make tasty applesauce. They are good for baking, but they do not freeze well. Look for Gala apples from September to May.

Keywords: apple color, tart apple, sweet apple, baking apple, apple availability

About this Author

Fern Fischer writes about quilting and sewing, and she professionally restores antique quilts to preserve these historical pieces of women's art. She also covers topics of organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family. For over 35 years, her work has been published in print and online.