Early season apple power rankings

sansa apple closeup

Can the Sansa be a contender?

5. Honeycrisp
A popular pick. And its ability to grow in colder climes is admirable. But some real talk: Honeycrisps are sweet and little else. They lack complexity. It's like they're just a bit too eager for you to like them. And have you seen the gargantuan size of some of the apples in stores lately? Too much. Let the masses eat Honeycrisps -- you can do better.

4. Gala
The Gala is easy to eat. We can't speak ill of this good-natured New Zealand import. We just sometimes wish there was a little more going on in there. Must it be happy all the time?

3. Akane
Perhaps not well known, but a noble variety. It has strong parentage -- both the English Worcester Pearmain and that American icon the Jonathan -- brought together in Japan. The Akane is like a life well-lived: sweet, with enough sour to help us appreciate the sugar.

2. Sansa
Sweet with notes of complicating acid. A reassuring firmness. A subtly textured skin that suggests it doesn't really care what you think. Another Japanese import, a product of the Gala and the Akane. It is a reminder that we may all eventually be replaced.

1. McIntosh
An icon. That crimson skin. The pale flesh revealed by a bite. The tart with a touch of sweet that's also somehow old. A candidate to be placed among the items on a space probe in an attempt to convince faraway worlds that a sophisiticated society resides on our remote blue marble. And to think -- it's Canadian.


Honeycrisp is what an eating apple should be. The big ones are dumb, granted. But the local ones are top notch. Since Honeycrisps often depend on the pollination from other apple varieties to define themselves, you will seldom get the same flavor twice. Not bad for a variety that was almost thrown away from the Minnesota farm it was developed on.

I have to agree with Ace -- Honeycrisps are the BEST!

My favorites, and the ones I eat almost exclusively, are Macoun and Cortland apples from Saratoga Apple in Schuylerville.

I am so spoiled by apples that it is really impossible to choose just one variety over others. Fortunately i grew up working in orchards and know so much that i will recommend. These are dessert apples; the upstart Honey crisp is a very fine early season winner, when that's gone all the Macintosh sports will yield to crisp sweet thou somewhat chewy skin. Absolutely give the Macoun a taste above average sugar and short shelf life, a very tasty crunch, then i think we are in the late season varieties Golden Delicious, Mutsu, Jonagold, Johnathans, Breaburn, Cortland, Winesap, all unique and well suited for the climate here. Serious pie makers try the Golden Delicious, just sprinkle lots of cinnamon with no sugar added. Superb!

Macoun definitely.

Cortland. Even the name is local. They're actually red (sorry honey crisp, but an apple should look like an apple, not like a peach). They're snow white inside. Fragrant and sweet.

There are extraordinary biodynamic and local apples at the Co-op right now. I forget the particular variety. Not pretty, certainly not bred for shelf-life or for presentation, but man are they delicious!

Whatever happened to the poor Empires? (I know, bad season last year.)

As a cross between the McIntosh (which I never cared for) and the Red Delicious, it's sweet and tart at the same time, and plenty crisp. Hope they'll be back soon!

Golden Delicious are under-appreciated. If you can forget that they are not red, or even golden, you'll find them to be a pleasant but not-too-sweet variety. And for me, the biggest nitpick I have with apples, is the chewiness of the skin. These are easy to bite into and won't get any stuck in your teeth.

Combo of MacIntosh and Cortland for pies. Nothing better.

The local teens behind the counter at Indian Ladder farms a few weekends back told me that Ginger Golds were the "best eatin' apple hands down." They gave me one on the house. And they were right.

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