Comparing Apples to Apples… Which One Makes the Best Pie?

DECEMBER 3, 2020

Apples are apples, right? Well, no. There are more than 7,500 varieties of apples throughout the world! There are approximately 2,500 grown just in the U.S. and around 100 varieties grown commercially. Needless to say, when you look around your local grocery store or farmer’s market and think there are a lot of apples, you’re right! And it can be overwhelming. It can also be challenging to judge an apple by its appearance. Will it be sweet or tart, soft or firm? And what kind is best?

Well, it depends on why you want the apple. An apple that’s soft and mealy makes excellent applesauce and apple butter. And while sweet may make for an awesome snacking apple, it may not stand up to the additional ingredients of a recipe.

Countdown of Top 5 Baking Apples

We will leave the discussion of the best “eating” apples to another blog. At Papa C Pies, we are all about the pie love. For us, the best pie baking apples have a firm texture and are a little less juicy. After all, soft and juicy in the bite can mean soggy crust and mushy apples in the pie. No thanks.

Here’s our ranking of  some of the most popular varieties of apples for baking purposes:

5) Honeycrisp. It has “crisp” right in the name, so you know it’s relatively firm and can hold up well. It’s also a sweeter variety (thus, the “honey”). Honeycrisp is a great all-around apple, good for eating and baking. One of the most popular in recent years, it’s a seasonal favorite, but only available for a short time.

4) Northern Spy. Grown primarily in New England, this older variety boasts a balanced flavor between sweet and tart, releasing little juice during baking and maintaining an excellent texture.

3) Jonagold. A hybrid apple that’s a cross between a Jonathan and a Gold Delicious, Jonagold features the best of both… sweet and tart, soft but not too soft. The Jonagold is definitely flavorful.

2) Braeburn. Originally from New Zealand, the Braeburn is a top choice not only because of its bold apple-y flavor and balance of tart with sweetness; it also naturally features spicy notes of nutmeg and cinnamon.

Drumroll please…

1) Granny Smith. This apple is many chefs’ go-to apple when baking. And for good reason. Granny Smiths are tart, firm, maintain their shape and texture, and can stand up to the flavors of other ingredients. Available all year long means you can enjoy a delicious apple pie or apple blackberry pie at Thanksgiving or any time the craving strikes. We have found the Granny Smith is the perfect flavor profile to balance with our cinnamon spice mix for a complex pie that’s not overly sweet, not too tart and pairs well with our amazing, light crust.

Contact Papa C Pies or swing by to pick up an apple pie and taste for yourself why we love the Granny Smith apple for pies.