Who doesn’t like apple pie? Even if it’s not your favorite dessert you have to agree that the aroma of a freshly baked pie sure makes you feel good.

Now is the time of year when the apples that make the best pie are available.  When thinking of pie apples it is best to consider three things: taste(fresh and cooked – tart, sweet, mild, or fragrant), texture(fresh and cooked), and seasonality. For example, a Pippin in the fall will have a good cooked texture and a nice flavor of sweet and tart in the pie.  But that same Pippin three to four months later will not give you the same experience.

Suprisingly, it is not the crispiest apple that makes the best pie.  Consider the Honeycrisp: while the flavor is very good when cooked, the texture can be a bit mushy.

While some of your favorites may be good for eating or even sauce they may not make the best pie.  And while you will find lots of differing advice on the best pie apple, ultimately it come down to the taste, texture and seasonality.

Here are a few to look for the next time a home cooked pie is calling your name.

“Russet” apples are not actually a single variety, but “russeting” varieties, such as Pippin or Michigan when the skin becomes somewhat tough and the apple top has a distinctive brown or russeted look.  Because of this coloration they are not as available, but many pie connoisseurs consider them to be superior in flavor, texture and aroma.

These apples have excellent flavor when eaten fresh with a perfect balance of sweet and tart.  When baked the flavor really comes alive becoming a bit more tart than sweet, but very well balanced.  Though the flavor is worth noting the texture is what really stands out – firm enough but gently yielding with each bite.

Another uncommon but excellent eating apple is crisp and sweeter than it is tart with a very refreshing flavor. In a pie the flavor is well-balanced and quite apple-y. The texture is firm with the perfect amount of softness.

This is the most common and well known of the bunch.  If you’ve had one of these you’ll know it’s not the crispest of apples, but it’s not mushy either.

What many people like is it’s richly sweet flavor.  In a pie it makes sense that this apple is on the sweeter side.  That surprise comes in the first bite when you feel the marvelous texture when cooked.  It melts in your mouth while still being firm enought to keep you coming back.  When baking leave the skin on according to www.superfoodsx.com.

“An apple a day” is perhaps one of the most delicious prescriptions ever made. Apples are a powerful source of antioxidants, including polyphenols, flavonoids, and vitamin C, as well as good source of fiber and potassium.

The secret behind the super antioxidant capacity of the apple is its skin.  The apple skin alone provides two to six times the antioxidant activity of the apple flesh alone.  So it is important to eat the skin to obtain the full health benefits of apples.

Reference: Fresh Perspectives, September 2012