Thousands of varieties of apples, pretty well all hybrids, grow in almost every corner of the world. Here are a few of the most popular kinds grown in Canada.
McIntosh: Originated in Ontario in the 1800s; mildly tart but sweetens as it ripens; good for eating fresh and in sauces.
Gala: The most common variety grown in B.C.; firm; good for eating raw; retains its shape and texture when cooked.
Ambrosia: A relatively new variety increasing in popularity; discovered in B.C. as a chance seedling in the 1980s (parentage unknown); large red apple; crisp and juicy; ideal for eating fresh.
Northern Spy: Distinguished by bright red stripes and elongated shape; large, crisp and firm; the first choice of many pie makers and excellent for baked apples.
Red Delicious: Large size; dark red and elongated with distinctive knobs at blossom end; at its sweetest after it has been in storage for a few months to allow its starchy elements to break down into simple sugars; good in salads; not recommended for cooking.
Cortland: Descendent of the McIntosh; large globular shape with red-orange stripes; mild sweet taste and crisp texture; excellent for salads and fruit plates; resists browning.
Idared: Medium to large; round to flat round; tart; keeps its flavour when baked.
Empire: Cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious; slightly tart; juicy, firm and crisp; ideal for snacks; makes great applesauce.
Source: Ontario Apple Growers (www.onapples.com)