Apples and peanut butter are the ultimate energizing snack, and a steaming cup of cider makes us wish for days spent on a hayride, wrapped in a flannel blanket. Come fall, I’m all about apple pies, cobblers, crisps, galettes, pandowdies, cakes, applesauce, apple butter…do I sound like Forrest Gump yet? While a few apple varieties are accessible year-round, the full bounty is at its peak between late August and early November. Depending on factors such as the climate and growing conditions in a particular area, the specific time when these apple varieties are in season can vary year to year. There are hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of varieties of apples, with many that you and I have probably never even heard of because they are cultivated independently by small farmers. I could never adequately cover each and every variety, so here I’m focusing on the most common types of apples that you can find in grocery stores and pick each fall at your favorite orchard.
In each description, I share when exactly you can find these varieties at their peak. But if you’re out for an autumnal day of family fun at an apple orchard and find that some types of apples are a little past their prime, don’t just pass them up. Instead, grab a few of those slightly smooshed ones that other pickers are sure to ignore, bring them home, and make your own applesauce or mulled cider (the riper the better for these recipes!).