Apple Varieties

Oct 11, 2022

As a buying culture I think we are all prone to the ‘Cult of the new’. But what’s new and shining isn’t always the best.

Sadly, some older varieties of apples are getting less attention on store shelves. This is because they bring in what sells, and the orchardists follow suit.

New is nice but so are older varieties, here is a broad description of old and new variety apples CNF regularly carries. Try them all but don’t forget back to go back to the older classics so they remain on store shelves and orchards!

There are thousands of apple varieties in the world and will just mention a few that you’re familiar with and maybe a few that you’re not as familiar with! These are roughly in order as they are picked off the orchards though that can vary with some varieties and regions! Did we miss one of your favourites? Ask and we’ve likely had them and can find out more!

Sunrise apples

Sunrise apples are one of the first varieties to be harvested each year. That’s why many people refer to them as “summer apples.” The Sunrise rose out of the Okanagan valley, being yet another delectable tree fruit from the Pacific Agri-food Research Centre in Summerland.

They don't keep as long as other apples but that's okay because they are fantastic fresh eating as well as great for homemade apple juice.

TASTE: sweet yet tart

FLESH: firm, crisp

BEST FOR: snacking, salads, pies, sauces


Back in 1811 John McIntosh stumbled across a chance seedling in his orchard. He transplanted it and it flourished. Since then, his name was immortalized as a favourite tree fruit. Often shortened to Mac, they boast an alluring aroma and their small to medium size makes them lunchbox perfect.

Use McIntosh’s to make lovely, pink-tinted applesauce! If you’re using them in pies, you’ll need to use a thickener.

These are CNF marketing managers, (Beth Potter), favourite apple and she might just be keeping this variety alive 

TASTE: rich, tangy & aromatic

FLESH: white, juicy, tender

BEST FOR: snacking, salads, especially sauces

Gala, (AKA Royal Gala)

The Royal Gala – a crisp, firm, bright red or red/orange patterned fruit with a yellow background. Small to medium sized with a thinner skin, this sweet, succulent apple is a cross between a Golden Delicious and Kidd’s Orange Red. Originating in New Zealand in the 1920s, it’s a favourite around the world.

Royal Galas pair well with bold, distinctive flavors such as fresh ginger, herbs, wine and cheeses.

TASTE: sweet & succulent

FLESH: firm, crisp

BEST FOR: snacking, salads, pies


The Honeycrisp earned its name from being sweet as honey and extraordinarily crisp. A cross between Macoun and Honey Gold, Honeycrisps are jumbo sized, with mostly red colouring over a yellow background.

Honeycrisp, or Honey Crisp, is a modern apple variety, developed in the 1960s and introduced to the market in the 1990s - sometimes trademarked as Honeycrunch. Honeycrisp comes from a long line of apples developed by the University of Minnesota from the 1930s onwards. One of the objectives of this breeding programme has been to develop varieties which can tolerate the bitter cold of winters in some parts of the USA and Canada.

Honeycrisps have a shorter shelf life due to their high sugar content - get to eating!

TASTE: sweet

FLESH: firm, crisp

BEST FOR: snacking, salads, sauces, baking

Golden Delicious

The Golden Delicious apple is a beloved classic, and for good reason. This variety has a rich, unique flavour, and a lovely golden colour. Originally found as a chance seedling on a farm in West Virginia in 1905, the Golden Delicious has gone on to be a favourite around the world.

Naturally sweet and rich, you’ll find you need less sugar when baking with Golden Delicious apples.

TASTE: sweet & rich

FLESH: medium firm

BEST FOR: snaking, salads, desserts


This apple is a BC homegrown original. It was discovered by the Mennells family in the 1990s at their Cawston B.C. orchard. It was a rare chance seedling, and no one really knows its parentage. The original orchard was full of Jonagolds and had previously been home to both Golden Delicious and Red Delicious trees.

Ambrosias are slow to brown, which makes them perfect for salads!

TASTE: sweet

FLESH: white, firm, crisp

BEST FOR: snacking, salads, pies, baking


The newest sensation from the apple breeding program in Summerland, BC. More than 25 years in the making, hundreds of British Columbians tasted and chose Salish because they love its unique eating experience. Crisp, sweet and tangy, Salish is BC’s native apple and is sure to become your new favourite.

When refrigerated, Salish’s remain flavorful and crisp for months.

TASTE: crisp, sweet, and tangy

FLESH: crisp, juicy

BEST FOR: snacking, baked goods

Spartan apple

The Spartan apple was the first new breed of apple created by the Pacific Agri-food Research Centre in Summerland, BC. Another BC original to the world of apple varieties!

The Spartan's flavour pairs well with strong, savory flavors like blue cheese, rosemary, ginger, or walnuts.

TASTE: sweet & succulent

FLESH: snowy white, crunchy

BEST FOR: picnics, salads, pies, sauces


Originating in Japan, the Fuji is a cross between a Red Delicious and a lesser-known variety called Ralls Janet. The Fuji has red stripes over a yellow-green background.

Fuji apples are super sweet and excellent for eating on their own or in salads. They’re also great for baking and desserts because they hold their shape well. Naturally sweet, you’ll find you need less sugar.

TASTE: super sweet

FLESH: firm, crisp, crunchy

BEST FOR: snacking, salads, pies, desserts

Red Delicious

The Red Delicious is officially classed as a “sweet" apple, but it also has a certain pleasing tartness. Its flesh is highly flavoured, crisp and juicy when eaten raw. The variety started as a chance seedling in Iowa in the 1880s and is still widely available in North America.

Red Delicious are sweet and juicy which makes them an excellent juicing apple!

It’s not as popular as it used to be but is still an excellent apple. These are a specialty of one of CNF’s favourite growers, George Zebroff and family. George calls these the Christmas apple and we happily feature these every year at this time!

TASTE: sweet yet mildly tart

FLESH: crisp juicy

BEST FOR: snacking, salads & other raw dishes


With nearly 8,000 apple varieties in the world, you’d think people would be blasé about yet one more. Cultivated locally using natural methods, it’s distinctive for its cherry red blush over a greenish yellow background as well as for its long, elegant, and highly flexible stem.

Nicolas boast an outstanding shelf life: up to five months without losing texture or juiciness.

This one is a little rarer, but we do get some in the late fall, early winter.

TASTE: sweet & aromatic

FLESH: creamy, firm, juicy

BEST FOR: snacking, salads, pies, sauces

Granny Smith

Granny Smith apples are a gorgeous colour of green. They have a slightly harder texture and are just a little less sweet than other apples. Starting as a chance seedling in Australia in 1868, they’re thought to have been a hybrid of the European Wild Apple and a domestic apple.

While a raw Granny Smith is tart and tangy, once baked they’re much sweeter – which makes them ideal for cooking.

TASTE: tart & tangy

FLESH: extra firm, crisp

BEST FOR: fruit trays, baked desserts

Pink Lady (AKA Cripps Pink)

Originating in the late 20th century in Western Australia, Cripps Pink is a cross of Golden Delicious and Lady Williams. Brisk, autumn nights help bring out its bright, namesake coloring.

These are the last apples to come off the trees. They are typically not picked until the end of October!

They are very sweet and crunchy and an excellent eating apple. They are also suitable for baking.

TASTE: sweet & slightly tart

FLESH: red blush on yellow skin, crisp, sweet

BEST FOR: salads, snacking, pies

Article written by Frank Sarro, Produce Category Manager

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