An apple a day keeps the doctor away. … We’ve all heard that old saying, and chances are, you’ve probably said it, as well. So, exactly what do apples offer us in the health department? There’ve been numerous reports that detail better health when apples are part of a daily diet. Recent studies claim that apples can lower blood cholesterol and improve bowel function. Research also says apples may reduce the risk of stroke, prostate cancer, type II diabetes and asthma. That’s more than enough reason for me to enjoy an apple a day!

Gala apples

Just-picked Gala apples can be found at many local farm stands.

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

Bushels of apples

What you do with your apples will help you decide which variety is best for you.

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

Apple pie

Americana at its best – just-baked apple pie ready for eatin’!

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

But there are so many varieties, and such little time. In fact, if you ate a different variety of apple every day, you’d be eating apples for the next 18-plus years! It’s reported that there are more than 7,500 varieties of apples in the world. Of course, finding every one of them would be your greatest challenge. So to keep things simple, let’s look at some easy-to-find favorites and learn why we love them. If A is for Apple, then let’s take an alphabetical look at some popular apple varieties across the USA:

Cortland: This mild-flavored apple is excellent for fresh eating and salads because the flesh is slow to oxidize (brown). It’s a good candidate for sauce and pies.

Crispin (formerly Mutsu): For a number of years, this juicy, crisp apple has had a bit of an identity crisis. Renamed in the mid 1980’s, some still call it “Mutsu,” but pomologists correctly refer to it as “Crispin.” This multipurpose apple can be used for fresh eating, but it’s also great for salads, pies, sauce and baking.

Empire: New York State introduced this apple, and it’s a personal favorite of mine. This fruit is excellent for fresh eating (it’s great in lunch boxes or as a snack) and salads. It’s also good for pies and sauce. Another reason it’s such a hit with me: It stores well, so I can enjoy it for many weeks after harvest. And did I mention how yummy sliced Empires are when dipped in melted caramel or peanut butter?

Gala: This sweetly crisp newcomer is gaining popularity among apple lovers everywhere. It’s terrific for salads and fresh eating!

Golden Delicious: Many consider this sweet-flavored apple to be all-purpose. It’s excellent for fresh eating, sauce, pies, baking, freezing and cider.

Granny Smith: This Down Under favorite (it originated in Australia) is adored for its crispy, juicy, tart flavor. Grannies store well, allowing you to buy and enjoy them all year-round. This multipurpose apple can be used for fresh eating, as well as in salads, sauce, pies, baking and freezing.

McIntosh: This old favorite is enjoyed for its slightly tart flavor. It’s really best for fresh eating, but it’s also suitable for pies, sauce and cider.

Macoun: Enjoy this mild, crisp apple for fresh eating and in salads. It’s another lunch box or snacking favorite!

Red Delicious: When you think apples, it’s likely you picture a Red Delicious. It’s the mostly easily recognized apple. This mildly sweet, crunchy apple is available to apple lovers all year long. Enjoy eating this red beauty right out of your hand!

Rome Beauty: This large, round, red-skinned apple has a mild, sweet flavor that’s popular for baking, cider and drying. On a personal note, I use a mixture of Romes and Cortlands in my scrumptious apple pies. They’ve been a hit with family and friends for many years.

Now that fall’s rolled around again, you’ve got something else to look forward to! Fresh pies, cider and fruit are ready when you are. No matter how you slice them, apples make for good eating and for good health!