Apple Season

Common apple varieties to try this fall

Whether you pick your own or buy them from your local orchard or farm stand, fresh, locally produced apples are at their best during autumn months.  Though the mellow, sweet, uniformly colored Red Delicious is the most apple common variety purchased in grocery stores, there are literally hundreds of different kinds of apples grown throughout North America.  Here is a rundown of some of the most popular varieties:

* Braeburn—A medium to large, red striped fruit with an orange-red blush on a yellow background.  Pale, cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy with a pleasant tart flavor.  Harvested in November.

* Cortland—McIntosh-style apple with a red blush over a yellow background.  Very white crisp flesh.  Best eaten shortly after picking.  Good in salads.  Harvested during September.

* Fuji—A tall, rectangular, medium-sized fruit with yellowish-green skin with an orange-red blush and darker stripes.  Crisp, juicy white flesh has a firm texture.  Stores well.  Harvested during late October.

* Gala—A medium-size fruit with yellow skin patterned with bright orange-red.  Yellow-white flesh is firm and juicy with a nice texture and a sweet, slightly tart, flavor.  Best eaten fresh.  Harvested during October.

* Golden Delicious—A large golden-yellow fruit.  Firm, crisp, juicy flesh has a mild, sweet flavor.  A popular all-purpose apple.  Doesn’t store well.  Harvested during mid-September to late October.

* Granny Smith—A large, bold green apple with crisp, very tart flesh.  Keeps very well.  Harvested during late October.

* Honeycrisp—Red patched mottled over a yellow-green background.  The flesh is crisp with a tart, yet sweet, flavor.  Keeps well.  Harvested from mid-September to October.

* Macoun—Similar in size and shape to a McIntosh, but with a darker purplish-red blush over green background.  The flesh is firm and aromatic for a good all-purpose apple.  Harvested during early to mid-October.

* McIntosh—One of the most popular apple varieties, with a deep red color over a green background.  The flesh is white, firm, tender, and very juicy, with a mildly tart flavor.  Harvested during September.

* Pink Lady—An oblong yellow variety overlaid with pink or light red.  The flesh is white with a sweet-tart flavor.  Stores well.  Harvested during September and October

* Red Delicious—Most common apple variety in the United States.  A mild, sweet apple with a thick, deep red skin.  Harvested during late September

No matter what kind you choose, apples are one of the healthiest and most delicious snacks around.  Eat them on their own, dip them in peanut butter or chocolate, pair them with a sharp cheese, or slice them up into a salad.  Though apples most often play a starring role in decadent desserts—pies, cakes, crumbles, doughnuts, strudels, dumplings, etc.—don’t make the mistake of typecasting them.  These sweet treats are versatile enough to carry your main course.

From by Jaime McLeod


The best apples for baking (and pie)

There’s nothing better than a slice of warm apple pie topped with some vanilla ice cream.  It’s okay to let your mouth water a little bit.

When baking, you need to pick an apple with the appropriate texture.  Spending time on perfecting a fall apple dish only to take a bite of mushy apple is, to say the least, quite a disappointment!  To avoid this, make sure you pick an apple that is crisp enough to withstand the oven, and that has a good balance of sweet and tart taste.

Remember, you can also mix multiple types of apples to create a variety of flavors—it never hurts to experiment a little!

Recommended apples: Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Cortland, Empire, Jonathan.


Fresh picks

Whether you are on the hunt for Granny Smiths or Honeycrisps, these Illinois orchards are perfect for a sweet day trip.


The season of pumpkin spice would not be complete without fresh-picked apples.  Whether you prefer to pick your own or grab a bushel to-go, these statewide orchards offer fall fun, fresh apples and other seasonal treats like cider and baked goods.  Reminder:  Check the orchard’s website before your visit to confirm hours and COVID-19 precautions.

Thyme and Again Farm, Rockford—Kick off the season with a stroll through the apple orchard, then stock up on seasonal favorites like gourds, cornstalks and maple syrup.  On weekends, you can purchase made-from-scratch pumpkin or apple pie.

Royal Oak Farm Orchard, Harvard—Wander among more than 17,000 apple trees with dozens of apple varieties or let yourself get lost in the 1.5-mile apple tree maze.  Sample fresh cider doughnuts at the bakery and let kids ride the train or carousel.

Edgewood Orchards, Quincy—This third-generation orchard has been owned and operated by the Zellerman family for 90 years.  The family annually produces about 17,000 gallons of its signature cider, using a special blend of tart, sweet and neutral apples.

Rendleman Orchards, Alto Pass—Nestled in the hills of Shawnee National Forest, Rendleman Orchards grows a delicious selection of apples between August through October.  Apple gift boxes are also available to order online and ship to your home.

Eckert’s Belleville, Millstadt and Grafton—This family-run farm operates multiple pick-your-own apple orchards.  Beyond apple season, the farms are open year-round for visitors to pick their own seasonal fruits and veggies.

Curtis Orchard and Pumpkin Patch, Champaign—Enjoy free admission to this orchard where you will find apples, along with homey lunch dishes served daily at the Flying Monkey Cafe between late August and December.

All Seasons Orchard, Woodstock—Pick your own apples from 15,000 trees in the orchard, then walk through the formidable corn maze that offers two routes:  An easier option for kids, or a tougher challenge for the ambitious.

Edwards Apple Orchard West, Winnebago—Pick your own apples or head straight to the barn to stock up on your favorite already-picked varieties, from Rubymac to Red Delicious.  You can also stop by the Edwards West Express to pick up apple cider doughnuts, apple butter and other treats to go.

Ringhausen Apple House, Jerseyville—In Calhoun County, this fifth-generation fruit grower is a popular destination for pick-your-own apples.  Browse the market for additional produce and seasonal goodies.

Jonamac Orchard, Malta—Pick your own apples or place an order online for curbside pick-up.  You can also set Apple Alerts to receive a text when your favorite varieties are available.


From, by Lauren Sieben