Tired of brown spots and apples that are past their prime? We asked a produce expert for some inside tips on scouting out the best apples in the bushel.
Sniff it: Don't worry, no one at the grocery store is looking. Give that apple a good sniff. You want it to have a bit of an aroma -- that's a hint of the juicy taste that lies beneath the skin.
Squeeze it: Just like you would do with fruits such as nectarines, peaches, and pears, you want to do a squeeze test. Unlike those other fruits, however, apples should be firm, not yielding, when you squeeze.
Shake it: Once again, don't think about the other people at the store and what they might be thinking. Hold the apple up to your ear and shake it. If you hear the seeds rattling around inside, that's a sign of a ripe and ready-to-eat apple.
Store it: Once you get your apples home, store them on the counter for maximum taste and freshness. If you don't get around to eating them in a few days, you can throw them in the fridge to extend their lifespan a little longer. Once apples start to go bad, cut out the bad spots and make a pie or compote.
All apples are definitely not created equal.
Cortland: It's slight tartness and bright white flesh make this apple perfect for salads, garnishes and kabobs.
Fuji: This yellow and red striped variety has a slight zing and a firm bite that's best raw.
Golden Delicious: The mellow, sweet flavor and tender texture make it good in everything from salads to pie.
Gala: Crisp and very sweet, eat this variety fresh or use in recipes that call for slow-baking.
Granny Smith: This bright green Australian native is best known for its tart crunch. It's good raw and baked.
McIntosh: A deep red apple with a juicy, tangy and tart taste that's best for snacking and applesauce. Use this apple for a tart pie.
Red Delicious: This rich red and juicy variety is best eaten raw. Warning: If they sit too long, they get mealy. Ick.
Nestpert: Alex Guarnaschelli is the host of Food Network’s "Alex's Day Off," recurring judge on "Chopped," and Executive Chef of Butter Restaurant in New York City.
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