This story was first published in The Straits Times on May 25, 2014
Granny Smiths, Fujis and Royal Galas are readily available in supermarkets, but stores now stock many more apple varieties. Here is a round-up of recent discoveries.
Ambrosia: A Canadian apple with yellow and red skin. Juicy, with open-textured rather than dense flesh, but still crisp - almost like a water chestnut. A honeyed sweetness and short aftertaste. Chill it well before serving to highlight its cool, melon-like character.
Antares: A French apple streaked with red and gold. Crisp and tender, with a gentle acidity and subtle, slightly pear-like flavour, it suits both cooking and eating. The apple's taste weakens and texture softens as it ages, so use it promptly.
Candy: Not a confection but an apple bred principally for its small size. About 5 to 6cm across, it is very convenient for packed lunches and light snacking. Often descended from the Royal Gala, it looks and tastes very similar.
Envy: This apple from New Zealand is very hard, crisp and crunchy. It has dark wine-red skin and, to match, an intense, almost wine-like flavour at first bite. Best enjoyed on its own, so you can savour its unusual taste and finely balanced sweetness. Once exposed to air, its flesh turns brown much more slowly than most apples, so it can be cut ahead of time for lunchbox or picnic use.
Jazz: Also developed in New Zealand, it has dense and juicy flesh crisp and crunchy to the bite and a berry-like balance of sweetness and acidity. Lots of character, reminiscent of a good-humoured Granny Smith. Very good for eating it as is, in fruit salads or in recipes requiring little or brief cooking.
Kanzi: Developed in Belgium, it has a pretty skin marbled with pink and yellow and an appealing fragrance. Brightly tangy without being sharp, with a rounded sweetness. Best eaten au naturel and well chilled.
Pacific Rose: This blocky-shaped apple has a beautiful deep-pink skin. Inside, the yellow-tinted flesh has a coarse, juicy texture and mild but well-balanced flavour. If you prefer less tart apples, you will like this one.
Queen: A fine-textured, very juicy apple from New Zealand. Not hugely sweet, but it has a light and lilting aroma with notes of pear and banana - it would work very well with those fruits in a mixed fruit salad. Best when slightly chilled.
Royal Beaut: This apple from South Africa is a variety of the Royal Gala, with a more intense dark red colour and often distinct stripes. Small and a touch more dense and fragrant than the Royal Gala, it is better for eating than cooking.
Smitten: A New Zealand hybrid of Gala, Braeburn and other apples, this has attractively speckled and striped skin. It has springy-crisp and juicy flesh, with a light, sweet flavour and short aftertaste. A great snacking apple which does not suit cooking.
Choosing and storing apples: Choose apples with a firm texture. Avoid those with soft spots and suspicious discolouration and check the stems and opposite ends for mould. Keep them in a brown paper bag or perforated plastic bag in the main compartment or vegetable drawer of the fridge. Wash them just before serving. If an apple has a mealy texture and bland flavour, it was probably stored for too long or at the wrong temperature.
Text and photos: Chris Tan