Green Apple
Originally uploaded by André Meurer.

Wikipedia lists 31 common cultivars of Apple and I've only tried a small handful of them--maybe 8 or so. But I'm already quite biased in the apples I like and dislike. Much of that is probably due to growing up in Toledo, Ohio not far from MacQueen's Orchard.

Every fall we'd get copious amounts of recently picked Jonathon Apples. As a result, I'm pretty picky about the size, texture, firmness, and taste of the apples I eat. Sadly, I can't find a good source for Jonathon apples in the Bay Area. Know where I can find some?

For whatever reason, Whole Foods carries some excellent Fuji Apples from New Zealand that are in season for a sizable chunk of the year. Today I noticed that they have some organic Jonagold (a cross between Jonathon and Golden Delicious) apples in stock. I got a few and was thrilled to find that they're excellent. The Jonagolds are lager than Jonathons but have a very similar taste and feel. They're now on my short list.

Once in a great while I crave the taste of a good Granny Smith Apple, but it's hard to find really crisp ones without the terribly thick skin that many varieties have.

What's your favorite apple?

Posted by jzawodn at September 18, 2005 09:50 PM

Reader Comments
# Alex said:

My PowerBook G4. (Of course you knew that had to be in here somewhere.)

on September 18, 2005 10:08 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Yeah, I expected a Mac joke to appear pretty quickly.

on September 18, 2005 10:11 PM
# Alex said:

I know... I didn't want to disappoint ;-)

on September 18, 2005 10:19 PM
# Travis said:

I love Spartan. The Wikipedia page says "British Columbia," but I remember them as an early season apple at orchards in Maine.

on September 18, 2005 10:23 PM
# Will Fitzgerald said:

Lots more varieties at I like anything crisp: McIntosh, Jona*, fresh golden delicious. Granny Smith...

on September 18, 2005 10:56 PM
# Chris said:

I highly recommend Empire apples. Small, sweet, perfect tartness. Available here:

(Disclosure #1, that farm is run by my godparents. Disclosure #2, I am a Google guy, but big fan of your blog.)

on September 18, 2005 11:06 PM
# Tom Hunt said:

I think I saw some Jonathons at the farmer's market in Berkeley yesterday. I'll check again this week.

on September 18, 2005 11:07 PM
# Dylan Tweney said:

Jonathans are my favorite apple too, Jeremy--likely because of growing up in the same part of the country as you! They're pretty seasonal here -- I only notice them in late September and in October, in my local grocery store. They're almost never available as late as Thanksgiving, which is exactly when I want them -- for making my grandfather's cranberry relish recipe. Anyhow, if I'm right you should be able to get them pretty soon in any decent grocery store!

on September 18, 2005 11:11 PM
# Justin Watt said:

Just had a Jonathon (for the first time) at Andy's Produce Market on Hwy 116 in Sebastopol. Gravensteins are also pretty good. And local.

on September 18, 2005 11:46 PM
# Rob Mueller said:

Being from Australia, both Royal Gala and Pink Lady are very popular around here and both excellent eating apples. When I was last in New Zealand I really enjoyed the Braeburn's as well, which seem common there but not so common around here.

on September 19, 2005 12:36 AM
# Dave Hodgkinson said:

There is only one true apple: Cox's Orange Pippin. Ruddy, juicy, slightly russted. Good straight from the tree earlier in the season or mature at Christmas with the port and walnuts.

I'm also partial to an Egremont Russet, but they're not to everyone's taste.

Honourable mention to New Zealand Braeburns and South African Golden Delicious (not the French rubbish they export).

on September 19, 2005 03:13 AM
# Josh said:

Gala! :-)

on September 19, 2005 03:58 AM
# Brad said:

I love Jonathan's and Jonagold is another good one. I highly recommend you try Pink Lady and Honeycrisp apples, both are a real treat. Honeycrisp is just coming into season so look for them or order online and is worth going out of your way to track down(they are still hard to find.)

on September 19, 2005 04:46 AM
# Charles said:

If you liked the NZ Fuji apples, you really ought to try a proper Fuji grown in Japan. The NZ Fujis are about the size of a regular apple, but the Japanese ones are HUGE and taste much better. When I was in Japan, I saw a documentary on TV about how they grow Fujis, they debud every branch and put a plastic bag over the one remaining bud, so only one perfect apple grows on each branch.

on September 19, 2005 05:18 AM
# COD said:

Empire's are good - Winesaps are very tasty too. The wife brought home some NZ Fuji's last week that were excellant. I'll eat pretty much any apple that isn't a Red or Golden Delicous from a grocery store.

on September 19, 2005 06:31 AM
# Glen Campbell said:

I used to love Red Delicious; however, most of the time the ones at the local Safeway are terrible. I'm not sure why the wide variation.

on September 19, 2005 06:34 AM
# Michael said:

Gala followed by Fuji

on September 19, 2005 06:52 AM
# Jake said:

Gala, also from NZ

on September 19, 2005 08:01 AM
# Tim Howland said:

We just took our boys apple picking for the first time; this particular farm has nothing but dwarf fruit trees, perfect for 3 and 6 year olds. They could reach everything, and they had a great time.

The Galas and Goldens were in season; the Galas were great apples- like a firmer red delicious. These are definitely my new favorites- and the kids wouldn't stop eating them the whole time we were in the orchard. You should try them if you can find them out west.

on September 19, 2005 08:13 AM
# Chanel said:

Prevedelli Farms in Watsonville grows Jonathan apples as well as a bunch of other varieties:

According to a KQED spotlight, Prevedelli brings their wares to the Sunnyvale farmer's market every Saturday:

on September 19, 2005 08:22 AM
# Alex Morganis said:

Hey Jeremy, Digg the blog. Great design, very interesting posts. Do you have a Yahoo 360 Blog? I would think you would (considering you work at Yahoo!). If you do, could you post the URL here?

on September 19, 2005 08:23 AM
# ryan said:

I second the Braeburn apple recommendation. They are semi-tart with a crisp texture and can sometimes be found without the waxy coating.

Pink Lady and Fuji's are also a good apples.

on September 19, 2005 08:30 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


But I just use it to re-syndicate this blog.

on September 19, 2005 08:31 AM
# Brian said:

For some reason I thought your post would be about my Apple 15in laptop...

Washington State Fuji Organic apples are my favorite. I really never cared for apples until I moved up here and learned about all of the different varieties that exist.

on September 19, 2005 08:55 AM
# Chuck Lawson said:

For eating apples (as opposed to cooking), give me Fujis any day -- crisp, firm and sweet...

One of our local "foodie" groceries occasionally gets in what are proported to be the genuine Japanese Fujis; I don't know if they are, but they are quite a big bigger and very nice (and expensive.)

Usually I just buy the cheap ones from Costco tho; still very very good...

on September 19, 2005 10:02 AM
# Larry said:

My personal fave, discovered about 6 years ago, is the Honeycrisp. Sweet, crisp, and they keep for a while. They're a new variety, so a bit hard to find at times. I can find them here (Illinois), but I have to drive a bit. I usually only eat them in the early fall, the rest of the year I eat Jonagolds or Galas.

on September 19, 2005 10:15 AM
# Rick Walter said:

Hmm, Winesap, Granny Smith, Johnagold in that order. I may consider OS X after it's ported to Intel hardware.

on September 19, 2005 11:28 AM
# Jeffery Sellers said:

Dave Hodgkinson has good taste in apples, Cox's Orange Pippin and Egremont Russet are both very nice. If I could get them regularly in the US, I would.

My favorite, generally is the Braeburn. New Zealand-grown if you can find them. The Braeburns they grow in Michigan are never as crisp or sweet or tart or juicy.

on September 19, 2005 12:18 PM
# Abe said:

I have a favorite but am atrocious at remembering which apple is which, if it not in the same spot in the farmer's market I completely forget. The best last year where the big ones in downtown brooklyn..

For some serious apple reading, Michael Pollan's _Botany of Desire_ is a must, really fascinating and beautiful stuff.

on September 19, 2005 01:01 PM
# David said:

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Cameo. Great flavor and texture. Unfortunately we only get them for a very short period here in Texas.

on September 19, 2005 01:05 PM
# Adam Fields said:

I've only seen them pop up twice at the Green Market, and they tend to show up late (November), but Akane apples are outstanding. They have bright red thin skin and very pale white crisp tart flesh.

on September 19, 2005 01:50 PM
# Austin said:

You really need to find som McCowan apples. The biggest treat of the fall for me.

on September 19, 2005 04:19 PM
# Austin said:

You really need to find some McCowan apples. The biggest treat of the fall for me.

on September 19, 2005 04:20 PM
# John Dowdell said:

Jeremy, there have been a few lots of Jonathans down towards Santa Cruz, enough to hit the farmers markets.

But get up towards Sebastapol too... amazing apple country, particularly in September/October.

The NZ Galas aren't "in season"... apple fruits are picked in autumn, then stored in large airtight warehouses where oxygen is replaced by an inert gas to prevent the spontaneous release of the spoiling ethylene gas.

The key in getting a good apple is usually how ripe they're picked. Commercial use requires something that stands up to shoppers who squeeze and toss, so commercial apples are usually picked a few days before full on-the-tree ripeness. You *can* get a ripe-picked apple from local growsers, but by definition these usually don't hold up as well.

(A lot of good apples were mentioned here... if you can find a good, fresh, ripe-pick Northern Spy, then that'd be my recommendation, but they're hard to find.... :(


on September 19, 2005 04:58 PM
# Erik said:

I love Cortland - crisp and tart, but more balanced than Granny Smith and without the overly thick skin. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find them in the Bay Area. :-(

on September 19, 2005 05:07 PM
# Aristotle Pagaltzis said:

In general, I find myself drawn to subtle, complex tastes, and more easily influenced by consistency instead, so I love these:

Their texture is to die for, very firm (almost tough), and they have a very striking flavour.

Just make sure you get them at the right degree of ripeness. Early on they’re green and *very* tart. Once they’ve ripened to a deep red, they get mushy and soft very quickly. But before they reach that point, while they’re an unevenly stripey red, they last a long time.

on September 20, 2005 05:41 AM
# Alphager said:

Not to sweet, not as acidic as a Granny Smith

on September 20, 2005 06:32 AM
# Nigel said:

Pacific Rose from New Zealand ( my home country ), I haven't eaten a Braeburn or Fuji since they came out. An honourable mention for Pink Lady.

on September 20, 2005 10:42 AM
# ben said:

fuji, mac mini, pbg4, ipod shuffle

on September 20, 2005 11:28 AM
# jennycu said:

i used to favor fuji or asian apple-pears. but i had a honeycrisp today (from whole foods) and i think it's my new favorite! :)

on September 20, 2005 02:40 PM
# daniel said:

fuji from safeway are safe

on September 21, 2005 10:26 PM
# Ryan Dobson said:

I haven't read that much of the blog, but I couldn't help noticing the Toledo connection. I used to live right down the road from MacQueens, off Garden Road. It feels like a lifetime ago. I've been in Texas for the past 13 years, and Austin for the last 6. I had almost forgotten how a real fall feels like, and your post here brought me back. Thanks!

on September 23, 2005 11:13 PM
# said:

Pink Lady and Jonathon/crisp and tart. Both are hard to find in my area though. I don't like any others.

on September 24, 2005 07:43 AM
# Kathy said:

I have recently rediscovered apples. I grew up on Washington apples but then they overprocessed the orchards and they all started to taste bland and mealy. But this year I tried several varieties just to see what I was missing and WOW! Apples are back! My first fav was the Pink Lady, then I tried the Jonagold and it won my heart, and then I tried the Honeycrisp and it was hands down my favorite of all time. But today I tried a Tsugaru - never heard of it before - and it is perhaps the best apple I've ever had! I'll have to have another Honeycrisp to compare, but I think the Tsugaru is the winner. Super crisp, super sweet, like eating candy! I found it at a large asian market in Seattle, WA called Uwajimaya, but if you can find them in your neighborhood, try them!

on September 26, 2005 05:10 PM
# Gary Secondino said:

Well, I've just finished my first hand picked tree ripe Macintosh and it was great. But my all time favorite is still the McCowen. While speaking with the orchard owner he told me that the McCowen apple is a cross of Macintosh and Red Delicious. It doesn't get better than that for me. Yummmm.

on September 27, 2005 11:09 AM
# Anthony Potts said:

Has anyone noticed that real, pure Macintosh apples are getting harder to find? When you find an apple called "Macintosh" at the farmer's market, or at the grocery store, they are almost always a hybrid. Where are all the real Macs? (We call the others "cheater Macs!")

on September 9, 2006 05:31 PM
# Bob Hochstein said:

I am now retired but I spent 30 years growing apples in the Hudson Valley in New York. I have actually grown alternate year bearing apples as an example of my dedication to my craft. With no doubt in my mind, the finest Apple anywhere is the New Zealand Royal Gala. The second best is the Royal Gala from Chile but only on the early crop. Nothing comes close but it seems that even these gems are being degraded which is a shame. Get them now before they are shit.

on September 13, 2006 08:25 PM
# Alyssa said:

I used to live in the Midwest and every fall we'd take a trip up into Wisconsin and go buy apples at the orchards there. One of my favorite things was to go through and taste each kind of apple until I found the perfect one (they always had samples). Sunrise Orchards there has a web presence and you can order apples from them. I loved their Jonathans. In the Bay Area (where I also now live) you can have organic fruit boxes delivered that usually have a wonderful variety of tasty apples. At work we order from The Fruit Guys who have a home delivery service as well called Planet Organics. We usually get different kinds of apples every week and it's great to try them. Today I had a Tsugaru which was beautiful (blindingly white inside) but wasn't quite tart enough for me.

on September 20, 2007 10:30 AM
# Amy said:

My daughter and I went on a 3-week tour of New Zealand in June/July of 2004, and discovered the Pacific Rose apple. It was love at first bite! We couldn't get enough of them and bought tons of them there. I was absolutely ecstatic to find them (from NZ) in our local supermarket (in California) shortly after we returned. They had them again the following July, but have only had the USA-grown ones since, and they're not nearly as good. I've tried other varieties from NZ, like the Jazz and Southern Rose, but so far nothing comes close to the Pacific Rose. It definitely justifies a return trip to NZ!

on September 29, 2007 09:40 PM
# Valnor Scerri said:

Pacific Rose and no other.
After moving from NZ to St.louis region 'Edwardsville' I found that Dierburgs supermarket has NZ produce 1/2 the year and S.American the other half.
However it was Schnucks who sell the Pacific Rose variety and it is the most expensive at $2.50 a pound.

Now its the only apple my in-laws buy.
Does anyone know where I can buy the trees locally? Ill./Mo.

on May 1, 2009 07:33 AM
# Sandy said:

Must agree about the Tsugaru. I'm a lifelong Jonathan fan, and a Japan or US Fuji is good for sweet, and a Braeburn or Pink Lady for refreshing...but the Tsugaru has quite a few things going for it. None of the deep tartness of a great Jonathan, though.

on October 16, 2009 07:06 PM
# turkeysong said:

Almost all the apples listed above are commercial varieties and represent the very small number of apples available to the general public. The selection is limited to apples distinguished by superior cultural, aesthetic and keeping characteristics that make them attractive and easy to grow and ship. The best three apples I've ever eaten wouldn't fit this description too well. Wickson very small apple with a really unique almost winelike flavor like no other fruit I've ever tasted, Cox's Orange pippin- complex amazing flavor and a good apple to judge others against and Golden Russet- very complex flavor that keeps on going unlike many apples where the flavor is a hit in the first few chomps and then fades off quickly. Americans are in a backlash against the mushy apples sold to them for years and want crisp refreshing light apples. The apples that have become more available now are certainly an improvement over what was available 15 to 20 years ago, but I would say they are still a limited selection. Juicy crisp apples are nice sometimes and I can eat a lot of them, but some of the best tasting apples have dense flesh sometimes with an almost dry mouth feel. Check out small markets and farmers markets for the hundreds of antique varieties grown in the U.S. If consumers buy them farmers will grow them more.

on February 27, 2010 08:29 PM
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. My current, past, or previous employers are not responsible for what I write here, the comments left by others, or the photos I may share. If you have questions, please contact me. Also, I am not a journalist or reporter. Don't "pitch" me.


Privacy: I do not share or publish the email addresses or IP addresses of anyone posting a comment here without consent. However, I do reserve the right to remove comments that are spammy, off-topic, or otherwise unsuitable based on my comment policy. In a few cases, I may leave spammy comments but remove any URLs they contain.