Warm, Freshly-baked, Luscious, Delicious Apple Pie
December 8, 2009 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Home-cooked apple pie: What kinds of apples do you use? Or combination thereof?

The last one I made was a 40-60 Granny Smith / Fuji mix, but I'd like to know what the experienced Mefi baker recommends for my next holiday apple pie. I do not want an overly-tart pie. Braeburns? Red Delicious? Gala? Thanks!
posted by jabberjaw to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Check out this link: Apple Use Chart
posted by ga$money at 1:52 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

The single best kind you can use, Northern Spy.

A bit late in the year to find them fresh, but they keep very well, and you can still eat them straight after storing them in a cool dry place over the winter.
posted by pla at 1:53 PM on December 8, 2009

Good Eats has an opinion on this.
posted by milqman at 1:54 PM on December 8, 2009

Heh, I notice from ga$money's chart that Betty Crocker doesn't recommend eating Spys straight - They do have a good bit of tartness to them, but I actually like that. :)
posted by pla at 1:55 PM on December 8, 2009

I've been making apple crisps like a crazy person all autumn long, and have been using gala or honeycrisp.
posted by something something at 1:57 PM on December 8, 2009

I love Granny Smith apples for a pie. However, next time I'm thinking of using a combo to try something different--like Granny Smith and Golden Delicious.
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 2:03 PM on December 8, 2009

Try Pippin.
posted by rhizome at 2:08 PM on December 8, 2009

About a year ago I started making pies (cobblers actually) with a combination of apples.
You can really taste the different flavors!
Most recent cobbler : pippin, pinklady!, jonagold and ganny smith.
This gives a great flavor range, from tart to sweet.
Cutting the apple pieces in slightly different shapes/sizes seems to accentuate the flavor range (each apple variety being chopped the same, different varieties differently.)
that may be in my imagination but try it and see what you think.
posted by Twist at 2:19 PM on December 8, 2009

My grandmother and my mother following her swear by Arkansas Black apples. They are moderately tart and retain their shape in baking unlike Granny Smiths. I have found that if I use a Granny Smith apple in my pie, I'm actually going to only have an applesauce pie. They always fall apart on me.

The only problem with the Arkansas Blacks is that they are particularly hard to find, although they do dry and freeze well. As an alternative I tried McIntosh apples this Thanksgiving and the pie was an overwhelming success. The apples retained firmness without being too firm, they were the perfect balance between sweet and tart and it worked out beautifully. I'm absolutely going to use Mcintosh again for my Christmas apple pie.
posted by teleri025 at 2:47 PM on December 8, 2009

It depends what you're doing: if the apples are meant to stand out, choose a very tart variety (such as granny smith), then you add sugar to counter the tartness. If you're using a lot of spices, or want some other flavour to stand out go for something sweeter (for e.g., I made a pie with a strong clove and vanilla flavour in the spice mix and decided to use Anjou Pears instead to harmonize with the stronger spices.)
posted by Kurichina at 2:50 PM on December 8, 2009

Seconding Northern Spy but I've never seen 'em in California. Fuji works fine and Granny Smith.
posted by GuyZero at 3:19 PM on December 8, 2009

Response by poster: I've made all-Granny Smith pies in the past, and the general consensus is that they come out too tart in the pie. I'm trying to find apples / apple-combos with a good sweet-tart balance.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:24 PM on December 8, 2009

I recommend Golden Delicious, Pink Ladies/Cripps Pink (same apple, but Pink Ladies are trademarked under an agreement that ensures they're a consistant flavor, size and color) or Johnagold's. I've heard some people say Stayman Winesaps (my favorite eating apple) are good in pies, but I personally prefer the more mild Golden Delicious.

If it needs to be a blend, try Golden Delicious and Fuji (or better yet, Pink Lady or Cripps Pink) apples. They're different enough that it matters, but similar enough that it won't be like hard apple slices in a soup of mush.

Unless you actually like that contrast in flavors and textures, in which case you'd do well with Macintoshes and Granny Smiths.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:30 PM on December 8, 2009

Macs are not pie apples. They'll turn to sauce in the pie.
posted by GuyZero at 4:03 PM on December 8, 2009

I forget what movie it was, but I remember a mother telling her daughter that the secret to a good apple pie was to use pears.
posted by Killick at 4:15 PM on December 8, 2009

Cripes, don't use pears. You might as well throw in a handful of sand.
posted by GuyZero at 4:22 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I like mostly Jonathans, with one or two Granny Smiths in the mix. Jonathans can be hard to find, but they're wonderful baking apples.
posted by palliser at 4:37 PM on December 8, 2009

I've only made a couple of apple pies, but I've always used a mix of apples and they turn out great. I'd use the chart ga$money posted and choose a couple types that are good for baking and get a variety of sweet and tart. I think a good combo of basic grocery store apples is Golden Delicious, Granny Smiths, Honey Crisps, and Empire. And maybe I'm an apple snob but don't use Red Delicious, for anything.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 4:44 PM on December 8, 2009

(Interestingly, the chart linked by gasmoney does not endorse Honeycrisps, Galas, or Fujis in its "Pies" column.)
posted by palliser at 4:51 PM on December 8, 2009

A produce guy once told me that he uses two Grannies, two Braeburns, and two Galas. I tried out his tip, and it does indeed make a good pie.
posted by ottereroticist at 4:59 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is my go-to apple pie recipe -- it calls for half red delicious and half golden delicious (I usually use 3 of each), and it always tastes absolutely amazing! I tried subbing in Honeycrisps for the red delicious this Thanksgiving, and it didn't taste the same -- half red and half golden is definitely the way to go.
posted by mothershock at 6:05 PM on December 8, 2009

I heartily recommend making a different pie each time. Use a mix of apples (I don't even bother to peel them) and mix of small and large chunks. And not too much sugar. Yum.
posted by rikschell at 6:25 PM on December 8, 2009

I don't know how easy Cameos are to find, but I love them for desserts. They're on the tart side, but sweeter than a Granny Smith, and hold their shape well.
posted by zinfandel at 6:40 PM on December 8, 2009

I always grew up with pippins being the preferred pie apples, but something that I've learned is that nearly every location has a myriad of local apples available at the farmer's market that are delicious and fairly distinctive. I now try to use those local apples whenever possible, basing my decisions on what's at its best point (while remembering that I tend to like very crisp, tart apples for pies).
posted by klangklangston at 8:52 PM on December 8, 2009

My last pie was Honeycrisp and it was great.
posted by RussHy at 2:51 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Jonathans are my favorite pie apple, but I haven't been able to find them since moving to the Southwest. Now I experiment with blends of Jonagold, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith. I put a Honeycrisp in my Thanksgiving pie and it stood out as being too crisp.
posted by Locobot at 3:06 AM on December 9, 2009

I've used Granny Smiths, Crispin/Mutsu. and most recently RI Greenings. I had a bunch of Northern Spy, but I ate all of them before we got around to making pie. How about them apples! Of the various pies, the Greenings held their shape the best, but the Mutsu pie tasted the best. Then again, I like the pie to have an equal blend of sweet and tart.
posted by cheez-it at 5:34 AM on December 9, 2009

Honeycrisps and Jonagolds are great, Braeburns are good too. Macintoshes are good for eating but I find they can get mushy in pie. If you can find them, Roxbury Russets are fantastic. I would not use Red Delicious.
posted by min at 7:24 AM on December 9, 2009

Thirding Honeycrisp. Man, that's a good pie. Don't use too much sugar, and throw in cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg to taste. Don't forget a pinch or two of kosher salt, and 2 tablespoons of butter, cut into small bits and sprinkled all over the apples before you put the second crust on, is heaven.
posted by cooker girl at 6:35 PM on December 9, 2009

Don't know what kind of pears you had GuyZero - it turned out lovely - not sandy at all.
posted by Kurichina at 8:25 AM on December 10, 2009

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