The apple originated in Central Asia and it is the oldest culivated tree. Today there are more than 7,500 varieties! China is the world's leading producer of apples with the United States a distant second.

But nothing says autumn like the simple apple. The once forbidden fruit is now one of American's most popular! With all of the textures and tastes, it is hard to know which apple is good for baking, or making jelly, or enjoying all by itself.

Below is a list of the most popular varieties with a description and best use. Remember, an apple a day...

fuji

These apples are usually quite large, about the size of a baseball. The are a great apple to bite into. Fuji apples are sweet, crisp and firm. They have rapidly become one of the world's most popular apple. They will remain fresh longer than most other apples, up to 5 or 6 months with refrigeration!

gala

Gala apples are a stunning apple to look at—with a golden skin finely mottled with red. They’re actually a cross between Golden Delicious and a New Zealand variety called a Kidd’s Orange Red. The inside flesh is a creamy yellow color, and it’s mild and sweet-tasting. It’s a good snacking apple, considered a bit more interesting in flavor than a Golden Delicious by most, although it can be a bit bland when baked.

golden delicious

Golden delicious apples are not related to red delicious, although they were named by the same company, Stark Brothers. It has a thin skin, a sweeter taste than red delicious, and a firm, crisp, juicy texture. It’s rounder and fatter than red delicious, and it’s a perfectly good apple for snacking. It really comes into its own, however, as a baking apple—its sweet flavor and firm texture hold up well in the oven.

granny smith

Granny Smith apples are green—they were the first green apples on the American market. They have a mild flavor with a good balance of sweetness and tartness, and are surprisingly durable—they hold up well under shipping and can sit in cold storage for half a year without going bad. It’s an unremarkable apple for raw eating, but does very well in sauces, especially applesauce.

mcintosh

McIntosh apples were developed by a farmer named John McIntosh in Ontario, Canada, in 1870. The apple is still a success today, and is the top-selling variety in North America. It’s been cross-bred with other varieties to create other well-known apples, including Cortland, Empire, and Spartan. McIntosh apples are round and red, usually retaining some green mottling even when ripe. They have a white flesh with a spicy, aromatic flavor and plenty of juice. They tend to hold up well as pie apples, and are excellent for snacking.

mutsu

The Mutsu Apple has a moderately sweet flavor with firm, juicy and cramy white flesh. Its skin color is a yellowish green with an orange blush. The Mutsu apple is also known as Crispin. This apple is vigorous, fairly early, and the fruit is large and oblong shaped. It is excellent for fresh eating, sauces, pies, and baking. This apple stores and keeps well.

red delicious

Red delicious apples are the signature of the American apple-growing industry. The red delicious is a beautiful apple—deep red, tall and thin compared to rounder varieties, and always grown big. It’s a lightning rod for those who advocate local growers and varieties, as it is the most popular eating and snacking apple sold in supermarkets. It’s a sweet-tart, crisp apple with a thick, bitter skin and strong flavor. It tastes great eaten raw. It’s not a good apple for baking, however.

rome

Rome apples, sometimes called “Rome Beauty,” originate in Rome, Ohio. They’re a round, plump apple with an appealing red color. The flesh has a greenish cast, and it tastes crisp and lightly tart. Rome apples have a thick skin that make them less than perfect for snacking, but they’re great for cider-making and for baking as well.

winesap

Winesap apples have a lot of character. They’re tart, even spicy, with a distinctive flavor and aroma of wine. Not everybody likes to eat them raw—their flavor is a bit strong for most—but those who do are passionate about them. They tend to be smaller than most apples in the supermarket, and are not as often found in typical grocery store produce sections—although they’re a good-looking apple, small and round and colored a deep, dark red. Winesaps are often used as cider apples as well as in baking and sauces.