The List: The definitive ranking (of readily available) apples
While July and August are typically off months for this fall favorite, there are some of us who ascribe to the apple-a-day lifestyle even through the dog days of summer. Here's my current ranking of the apple varieties you can generally find in the average supermarket.
(Unranked) Red Delicious
Never has a product name been more of an oxymoron. Red Delicious apples taste like chemicals and have a texture that even at peak ripeness could best be described as mush. If you like Red Delicious apples, I hope it fuels a deep-seated shame that makes you question every life decision you've made up to this point. If the Evil Queen offered Snow White a choice between a Red Delicious and a second poison apple, she'd certainly make her selection, take a bite and kick back for another extended nap.
Marketed as a grape/apple hybrid (intriguing!), it's actually a regular, low rent apple injected with a cloying grape flavor (disappointing!). I'm only including it in order to rank it ahead of Red Delicious.
9. Granny Smith
It's an apple, all right.
It's also an apple.
A little sweet, but mostly tart, Braeburns are pretty solid all-purpose apples. Bakers take note!
6. Green Dragon
While most green apples flaunt mouth-puckering tartness, the Green Dragon sports a welcome sweetness. I'm docking it a few points for its unpredictable texture, which, while generally crisp, can be mealy on occasion.
Apparently a hybrid of the Royal Gala and the Braeburn, Jazz apples offer a welcome crispness and a flavor profile that walks the line between Gala's sweetness and the tartness of a Braeburn. Not bad at all.
4. Golden Delicious
Though weighed down by the Delicious name, a burden shared by the likes of Timmy Hitler (not a real person), Golden Delicious apples are actually … pretty damned great. Firm and crisp, GDs have an appealing (if mild) sweet-tart flavor.
The Neil Young of apples originated in Canada but are now largely seen as a U.S. product. Sweet and crisp, this one's generally a safe third option.
2. Pink Lady
You could make an argument that Pink Ladies are the best apple option for the price (it's not unusual for the price-per-pound to be 60 percent of the investment needed to procure Honeycrisp apples). Sweet and sharp, Pink Ladies also have a generally crunchy texture, though the odd mealy dud does surface, especially in the apple summer off-season.
The apple gold-standard, which is roughly the equivalent cost to purchase this pricy varietal. The texture is perfect (I've rarely had one that was anything other than iceberg-crisp), and it features a welcome-but-not-overpowering sweetness. Now if only we could do something about its price. (No joke, in the fall Honeycrisp apples can be as much as 12 to 14 percent of our weekly household grocery budget.)