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How Many Varieties of Apples are There?

Apples have graced human diets for centuries, unfolding a mesmerizing panorama of diversity in their countless varieties. Each apple variety has a unique symphony of flavor, texture, and color, making the apple a perennial favorite. This article aims to shed light on the numerical abundance of apple varieties, answering the intriguing question: How many varieties of apples are there?

Where did apples come from?

Scientifically known as Malus domestica, the apple belongs to the Rosaceae family and traces its origins to the mountainous regions of Kazakhstan. Over centuries, apples have adapted to diverse climates and soils, resulting in numerous varieties. 

Estimating the exact number of apple varieties is challenging due to several factors, such as regional variations, local cultivars, and distinctions in taste and appearance.

Popular Apple Varieties

One popular variety is the red apple variety. It has vibrant red skin and a sweet flavor. At the same time, the Golden variety is also celebrated for its versatility in cooking and baking. 

Another popular variety is The Granny Smith, which boasts bright green skin and a tart taste. This apple variety caters to those who prefer an acidic taste.

Regional Specialties:

Beyond globally renowned varieties, many regions proudly cultivate unique heirloom apple varieties. These local treasures often passed down through generations, hold special places in communities for their unique qualities. Examples include the Minnesota-born Honeycrisp, renowned for its exceptional crispness and harmonious sweetness and tartness, and New York’s Empire apple, cherished for its firm texture and well-balanced flavor.

The Art of Growing Apples

Apples are grown by selecting the right site, fertilizing, and nurturing the trees through their various growth stages. Below is a general overview of how apples are grown:

  • Site Selection:
    • Apple trees require well-drained soils and plenty of sunlight. Orchards should be situated in locations with good air circulation to prevent diseases.
    • The choice of location may also depend on the specific apple variety being grown, as some may be better suited to certain climates.

Variety Selection

Growers select apple varieties based on factors such as climate, soil conditions, and market demand.

Different varieties have varying requirements for chilling hours, which is the number of hours an apple tree needs at temperatures of between 32°F (0°C) and 45°F (7°C) during the dormant season.


Apple trees are typically planted in late winter or early spring when they are dormant. The trees are spaced apart for proper air circulation and sunlight exposure.

Apples can be grafted onto rootstocks to control the tree size and improve disease resistance.

Caring for young trees

Young apple trees require regular watering to establish strong root systems, particularly during the dry season.

If planting in a dry area, mulch around the base of the trees to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.


Pruning is crucial for shaping the tree, promoting airflow, and removing dead or diseased branches. Proper pruning also encourages fruit production and helps maintain the tree’s overall health.


Apple trees need essential nutrients for growth and fruit production. Fertilizers are applied based on soil testing and tree nutrient requirements.

Pest and disease management

Use Integrated pest management (IPM) practices to control pests and diseases. This may include using beneficial insects, pheromone traps, and judicious application of pesticides when necessary.


Most apple varieties are not self-pollinating, so orchards often include a mix of compatible varieties for cross-pollination.

Honeybees and other pollinators are crucial in transferring pollen between flowers and facilitating fruit development.


Thinning involves removing excess fruit to ensure the remaining apples have enough space to grow and receive adequate nutrients. Thinning also promotes larger, higher-quality fruits.


Farmers should harvest apples from summer to fall, depending on the variety. Harvesting should be done by hand, carefully picking each apple to avoid bruising.

Storage and Distribution

After harvesting the apples, sort, pack, and store them in a controlled atmosphere. 

  • They are then distributed to markets and consumers through various channels, including grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and direct sales.

15 Popular Apple Varieties 

  1. Red Delicious: Known for its bright red skin and sweet flavor, it’s a classic snacking apple.
  2. Golden Delicious: A versatile apple with a mellow sweetness, ideal for eating fresh and cooking.
  3. Granny Smith: Recognizable by its bright green skin and tart flavor, perfect for baking and salads.
  4. Fuji: A crisp and sweet apple with a hint of honey, excellent for snacking and salads.
  5. Honeycrisp: Renowned for its exceptional crispness and a perfect balance of sweetness and tartness.
  6. Gala: A sweet and fragrant apple, great for snacking and salads.
  7. Braeburn: Offers a sweet-tart flavor with a firm texture, suitable for eating and baking.
  8. McIntosh: Known for its tender flesh and mildly tart flavor, commonly used in applesauce.
  9. Pink Lady (Cripps Pink): A late-season apple with a crisp texture and a sweet-tart taste.
  10. Cortland: Recognized for its snow-white flesh, it’s a versatile apple often used in salads and baking.
  11. Jonagold: A cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious, offering a sweet-tart flavor and firm texture.
  12. Ambrosia: Known for its sweetness and low acidity, it has a distinctive honey-like flavor.
  13. Empire: A cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious, known for its sweet-tart flavor and crisp texture.
  14. Northern Spy: A classic baking apple with a sweet-tart flavor and firm texture.
  15. Winesap: Known for its complex flavor profile with both sweet and tart notes, often used in cider and baking.

Red Delicious Apple

The Red Delicious apple boasts a vibrant red hue, a classic elongated shape, and smooth, attractive skin. It is known for its mild and sweet taste. This apple variety offers a crisp texture, making it a favored snacking choice.

Red Delicious apple originated in Iowa in the late 19th century and has evolved into a globally recognized apple through careful cultivation and selection.

While the apple is praised for its looks and sweetness, some critics note that efforts to enhance shelf appeal have sometimes affected its flavor.

2. Golden Delicious Apple 

The Golden Delicious apple, true to its name, features a radiant golden-yellow skin with occasional russeting. Its shape is more rounded than its red counterpart, the Red Delicious.

Golden Delicious has a mellow and sweet flavor and offers a versatile taste profile that suits various culinary applications. The fruit has a tender, crisp texture, making it ideal for fresh eating and cooking.

This apple variety holds up well in pies, sauces, and salads.

Golden Delicious originated in West Virginia in the early 20th century as a chance seedling. Its popularity quickly grew, and it became a staple in orchards worldwide.

It is widely cultivated in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

3. Granny Smith: The Zesty Green Marvel

The Granny Smith apple is recognizable by its vivid green skin, often with a hint of pink or red blush. Its round shape and glossy exterior make it easy to stand out.

The Granny Smith Apple is known for its zesty, tart flavor and crisp texture. It is a favorite for baking, making salad, and fresh snacks.

This apple variety is native to Australia and was named after Maria Ann Smith, who first cultivated it. Its popularity quickly spread globally.

Beyond culinary uses, Granny Smith apples are often pressed for their juice, and their vibrant green color adds visual appeal to various dishes.

Though native to Australia, Granny Smith apples are cultivated in many countries, including the United States, New Zealand, and South Africa.

4. Fuji: A Sweet Symphony of Flavor

The Fuji apple displays a stunning combination of red and yellow hues, often with a speckled appearance. Its round shape and medium to large size make it visually appealing.

Fuji is renowned for its sweet and crisp taste, with a delightful balance of sweetness and slight tartness. Its dense flesh contributes to a satisfying, crunchy texture.

This is an excellent choice for snacking and making salads, fruit bowls, and desserts. They maintain their shape when baked, making them a favorite for pies and crisps.

Fuji was developed in Japan in the late 20th century and is a cross of two American apple varieties: the Red Delicious and Ralls Janet.

The Fuji apples have become a global favorite and are cultivated in various regions, including the United States, China, New Zealand, and Italy.

The apple retains its quality for an extended period, making it a preferred choice for consumers and retailers.

5. Honeycrisp: A Crisp and Juicy Delight

The Honeycrisp apple stands out for its vibrant red and yellow skin, often accented by a speckled appearance. It has an irregular shape and a large size, making it visually distinctive.

This apple has exceptional crispness and a harmonious blend of sweetness and tartness.


The defining feature of Honeycrisp is its explosive crispness, providing a satisfying crunch with each bite. The apple’s flesh is exceptionally juicy, adding to its appeal.

Best Uses:

A favorite for snacking due to its crisp texture and sweet flavor, Honeycrisp apples are also enjoyed in salads, cider, and as a fresh accompaniment to cheese.


Developed at the University of Minnesota in the 1960s and introduced to the market in the 1990s, Honeycrisp is a cross between a Macoun and a Honeygold.

Honeycrisp trees thrive in well-drained soil and full sunlight, producing fragrant blossoms in the spring that give way to a harvest of premium apples in the fall.

While initially cultivated in the United States, Honeycrisp has gained popularity globally, with orchards in countries like Canada, New Zealand, and parts of Europe.

6. Gala: A Sweet and Flavorful Delight

The Gala apple is known for its distinctive orange and red stripes over a yellow background, and has an inviting and appetizing appearance. Its round and slightly flattened shape adds to its visual appeal.

The apple is known for its sweet and aromatic flavour, which offers a delightful balance of sweetness with a mild tartness. Gala apples are characterized by their crisp and juicy texture, making them a satisfying choice for both snacking and culinary applications.

Gala apples also work well in salads, sauces, and desserts. They are often included in fruit bowls for their attractive appearance.

The apple originated from New Zealand in the 1930s, as a cross between Kidd’s Orange Red and Golden Delicious variety.Since then, it has become one of the most widely planted apple varieties globally.

Gala trees flourish in well-drained soil and full sunlight. They produce fragrant blossoms in the spring, leading to a bountiful harvest in late summer or early fall.

Gala apples have achieved global popularity and are cultivated in various regions, including the United States, New Zealand, South Africa, and Europe.

7. Braeburn: A Bold and Tangy Sensation

The Braeburn apple variety is distinguished by its bold red-orange blush with a yellow-green skin. This apple variety boasts a unique and visually attractive appearance thanks to its elongated shape and smooth skin.

Braeburn has a vibrant and tangy flavour combining sweetness and tartness. Its complex taste makes it a favorite among those who enjoy bold apple varieties.

Braeburn apples have a  firm and crisp texture with dense flesh. This apple variety is Ideal for both snacking and cooking. It was originally from New Zealand and was believed to have been discovered by accident in the 1950s. It has since become a globally recognized and cultivated apple variety.

Braeburn trees thrive in well-drained soils and produce fragrant blossoms in the spring, leading to a harvest of flavorful apples in the fall.

8. McIntosh: A Classic Apple with Timeless Appeal

The McIntosh apple is easily identifiable by its deep red skin, often adorned with green patches. Its round shape and slightly flattened top make it a classic and recognizable apple variety.

The apple is known for its mild tart and aromatic flavour, which offers a balanced sweetness that appeals to various tastes. Its tender flesh contributes to a pleasing eating experience.

The McIntosh is prized for its tender and juicy texture, making it an excellent choice for fresh snacking and culinary applications. It is also popular for both snacking and cooking.

The McIntosh apple variety originated in Canada in the early 19th century. It is a product of John McIntosh’s farm in Ontario, where a chance seedling led to the development of this apple variety.

McIntosh apples are widely cultivated in North America, a staple in Canadian and American orchards. They are also grown in other apple-producing regions, such as South Africa and China.

9. Pink Lady (Cripps Pink): A Vibrant and Sweet Sensation

The Pink Lady apple, is also known as Cripps Pink. It is distinguished by its vibrant pink-to-red blush over a yellow-green colour. It has a conical shape and smooth skin that contributes to its eye-catching appearance.

This apple variety is renowned for its sweetness and a touch of tartness. Its complex flavor makes it a favorite among those seeking a nuanced apple experience.

Pink Lady apples are celebrated for their crisp and firm texture, providing a satisfying crunch. The apple’s dense and juicy flesh enhances the overall eating experience.

The apple is ideal for fresh snacking, preparing salads, and desserts. Developed in Western Australia in the late 20th century, Pink Lady is a cross between the Australian Lady Williams and the American Golden Delicious.

Pink Lady apples have gained global popularity and are cultivated in various apple-growing regions, including Australia, the United States, Europe, and South Africa.

Due to its appealing taste, vibrant color, and crisp texture, the Pink apple variety has become a sought-after choice in supermarkets and farmers’ markets worldwide.

10. The Cortland apple 

The Cortland apple originated from the Geneva, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. It was introduced in 1898 and is a renowned apple variety recognized for its vibrant red hue and crisp texture.

The apple is a product of the Ben Davis and McIntosh crossbreed, and it has medium to large sizes with smooth, glossy skin showcasing a bright red color against a green background.

The apple has a sweet-tart flavor, and the juicy flesh of Cortland apples remains white longer than other varieties. This makes them particularly suitable for salads and dishes. 

They have a satisfyingly crisp and tender texture that lends well to various culinary applications, including fresh slices, salads, applesauce, and baking. 

The Cortland apple tree is known for its resilience in colder climates, and these apples are typically harvested in the fall, ensuring their widespread availability during the autumn season. Overall, Cortland apples are appreciated for their versatility, making them popular among consumers and culinary enthusiasts.

Though there are many apple varieties worldwide, we could only review the top 10. Each apple variety has its needs and culinary strengths. Plant an apple variety that grows well in your local region.

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