11.10.2013

Apple Taste Test 2013




Several years ago Austin and I bought several kinds of gummy bears in an attempt to discover which gummy bears were the best. We rated them in different categories, and it was a lot of fun. I’ve been wanting to do something like that again. And then this weekend, the perfect opportunity presented itself.

We were at Sprouts shopping, and they had a wide assortment of apples on sale for $0.88/lb. This was too good to pass up. So I went crazy and bought 14 varieties of apples. Most we only bought 1 or 2 apples, but some we bought more. (We bought 10 Ambrosia apples because they’re awesome and they’re not widely available.)

I wanted this to be the ultimate apple taste test. So, today we cut up and prepared the apples. We put them on paper plates and divided them up and labeled them. In retrospect, I wish we had taken pictures of the whole process. (Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.) We then decided on categories; we rated the apples on Overall Taste, Juiciness, Sweetness, Tartness, and Hardness (I originally labeled it as Texture, but realized while writing this that Hardness is a better label for it.). In retrospect, we wished we would have a rating for Crispness as well as we quickly realized that Hardness and Crispness are not the same thing. We rated each category on a 5-point scale. Overall Taste was rated with 1 being gross and 5 being super delicious. (In other words, the higher the number, the more we liked it.) Juiciness was rated with 1 being not juicy and 5 being super juicy. Sweetness was rated with 1 being not sweet and 5 being super sweet. Tartness was rated as 1 being not tart and 5 being super tart. Hardness was rated as 1 being very soft and 5 being very hard. The ratings weren’t super scientific. We tried to do cross-comparisons between apples to keep the numbers accurate. But with so many apples, it was easy to not be 100% accurate.

To make the process more fun, I also made a homemade caramel dipping sauce. The dipping sauce was only to be used after tasting the apple raw and giving the ratings. I wish we would have done ratings on how each apple tasted with caramel. The Granny Smith was especially tasty with the caramel. (The only way I’ll eat a Granny Smith actually…with copious amounts of butter and sugar.)

The apples we tasted, in order, are as follows:
Empire, McIntosh, Pippin, Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Ambrosia, Braeburn,
Rome, Granny Smith, Jazz, Cameo, Gala, Fuji, and Pink Lady.

Empire
An Empire apple is a New York-based apple. (Click on the link for more information. We’ll be linking to the Wikipedia entry for each apple.) We described the Empire as having a mild sweetness. It was also quite tart. (We realized an apple could be sweet and tart at the same time.)
Austin’s comment on the Empire: “Over exaggerated. It’s more like a territory or a settlement. Sweet, but not memorable.”

We ranked the Empire a 2.5 on overall taste, 2.5 on juiciness, 2.5 on sweetness, 3.5 on tartness, and a 3 on hardness.

McIntosh
The McIntosh was a hard, tangy apple. I thought it improved with flavor as you ate it, but it still was not a great tasting apple.
Austin’s comment: “Probably better dried, cooked, or used as kindling.”

The McIntosh received a 2 on overall taste, 2 on juiciness, 1.5 on sweetness, 3 on tartness, and 4 on hardness.

Pippin
The Pippin was like a mild Granny Smith. It was sweet and tart at the same time.
Austin’s comment: “Milder Granny Smith. Excellent with caramel. My third favorite.”

Here’s where our ratings started to diverge. Austin’s like sour/tart foods substantially more than I do. (I am a self-described sweet tooth.) I rated the Pippin as a 1 on overall taste, while Austin gave it a 4. We rated it as a 2 on juiciness, a 2 on Sweetness, 2.5 on Tartness, and a 3 on Hardness.

Jonagold
The Jonagold was very much a “meh” apple to me. It was bland and mildly sweet. 
Austin’s comment: “I don’t like Jonathan or Golden Delicious apples, but I liked this a lot.”

The Jonagold received a 2 on overall taste from me, and a 3 from Austin. It received a 4 on juiciness, a 3 on sweetness, a 1 on tartness, and a 2.5 on hardness.

Golden Delicious
The Golden Delicious is very soft, sweet, and mild. I want to try applesauce made from it. (I don’t think I ever have before.)
Austin’s comment: “Too soft and overly sweet for me. I’m not a fan.”

The Golden Delicious received a 4 on overall taste from me and a 2 from Austin. It received a 4 on juiciness, a 5 on sweetness, 0 on tartness, and 1 on hardness.

Ambrosia
The Ambrosia is a sweet apple with a hint of honeyish flavor. It is delicious.
Austin’s comment: “Most aptly named of the apples. Favorite, perfect apple.”

The Ambrosia received on 4.5 on overall taste from me and a 5 from Austin. It received a 3.5 on juiciness, a 4 on sweetness, a 1.5 on tartness, and a 2 on hardness.

Braeburn
The Braeburn is a sweet, crisp apple. Before doing this taste test, I thought I didn’t like Braeburns for some reason. Turns out I like them much more than most apples.
Austin’s comment: “Better than expected. I thought they were dull, flavorless apples, but it is actually quite good.”

The Braeburn received a 4 from both of us on overall taste. It received a 2 on juiciness, a 3 on sweetness, a 1 on tartness, and a 2 on hardness.

Rome
The Rome apple has a very hard skin and so you expect it to be hard on the inside, but it actually has a very soft white flesh. It was a very disappointing apple.
Austin’s comment: “The Rome apple is gorgeous on the outside, a beautiful rich red. But the inside is bad, like a golden delicious without the charm.”

We both rated the Rome a 1 on overall taste. We don’t recommend it. It received a 0 on juiciness, a 3 on sweetness, a 1 on tartness, and a 1.5 on hardness.

Granny Smith
The Granny Smith is a familiar apple to many. The quintessential tart, hard apple. It is difficult to bite into. In my opinion, it is only good covered with sweet, sweet caramel.
Austin’s comment: “Tart and tempting.” Tempting, really? Gross.

I rated the Granny Smith a 1 on overall taste, while Austin gave it a 3.5. It received a 2 on juiciness, a 1 on sweetness, a 5 on tartness, and a 5 on hardness.

Jazz
With the name, you would think the Jazz would be snazzier. But, disappointingly, it is just your average apple, with a mild sweet flavor.
Austin’s comment: “Not as good as I remember.”
We have bought Jazz apples before, and we liked them more than we did today. I think, when you compare them with better apples, it is easy to see that it’s not that special of an apple. Don’t pay a premium price for this apple. (I discovered that a Jazz apple is a mix of Gala and Braeburn. Interesting.)

The Jazz apple received a 3 from both of us on overall taste. It received a 3 on juiciness, a 3 on sweetness, a 0 on tartness, and a 2 on hardness.

Cameo
I was disappointed with this apple. It’s an apple I would describe as “not much to write home about.” Austin’s comment: “Not a star, should only make cameos from now on.”

The Cameo received a 3 from both of us on overall taste. It received a 3 in juiciness, a 2.5 in sweetness, a 0 in tartness, and a 3 in hardness.

Gala
We’re not sure if this was a bad Gala or something, but it was less good than we were expecting. (It’s difficult to do a flavor profile from a single specimen. I eat 1–3 red delicious apples every single day and have for years, and I know from experience that the quality of the apple varies widely.)
Austin’s comment: “Good middle-of-the-road apple.”

The Gala received a 3 from me on overall taste and a 3.5 from Austin. We gave it a 2 in juiciness, a 3 in sweetness, a 0 in tartness, and a 2 in hardness.

Fuji
I always thought I hated Fuji apples, but as it turns out, I don’t. I liked it better than the Gala, which surprised me. It could have just been a bad Gala or something though. I will do a taste test again in the future comparing only Gala to Fuji. The Fuji was soft and crispy and sweet.
Austin’s comment: “Better than the Gala.”

The Fuji received a solid 3.5 from both of us in overall taste. It received a 3.5 in juiciness, a 3.5 in sweetness, a 1 in tartness, and a 2.5 in hardness.

Pink Lady
Last, but not least. I was not looking forward to this apple because Austin told me it was  a tart apple, and it looked like it wasn’t ripe. However, I am happy to report that he was completely wrong on that front. The apple was a sweet, nectary apple with a bit of a bite.
Austin’s comment: “Unique, pretty, and sweet. My second favorite.”

We both gave the Pink Lady a 4 in overall taste. We gave it a 3 in juiciness, a 4 in sweetness, a 2 in tartness, and a 3 in hardness.

Conclusions

So there you have it: Apple Taste Test 2013.

Tracie’s favorites: Ambrosia and a three-way tie between Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, and Braeburn
Austin’s favorites: Ambrosia, Pippin, and Pink Lady

The chart of ratings is below.



Name of Apple
Overall Taste
Juiciness
Sweetness
Tartness
Hardness
Empire
3
2.5
2.5
3.5
3
McIntosh
2
2
1.5
3
4
Pippin
1
4
2
2
2.5
3
Jonagold
2
3
4
3
1
2.5
Golden Delicious
4
2
1
5
0
1
Ambrosia
4.5
5
3.5
4
1.5
2
Braeburn
4
2
3
1
2
Rome
1
0
3
1
1.5
Granny Smith
1
3.5
2
1
5
5
Jazz
3
3
3
0
2
Cameo
3
3
2.5
0
3
Gala
3
3.5
2
3
0
2
Fuji
3.5
3.5
3.5
1
2.5
Pink Lady
4
3
4
2
3

After our taste testing, we had SEVEN CUPS of cut-up apples left. I made a monster batch of apple crisp. It is the best apple crisp ever. It contains 14 varieties of apples. We served vanilla bean frozen yogurt on top and the rest of the caramel sauce I made earlier. Yum.


Remember: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

7 comments:

Hailey said...

Never heard of ambrosia apples- now I want to try them! Your apple crisp looks amazing!

HayLee said...

Nom, Nom, Nom! I have never tried an ambrosia. But pink lady and baeburn are my favs too! Now I want apple crisp :(

Dani Grigg said...

Gala apples are never good. Trust your results there. This is great! Feeling apple poor, though. I've never seen ambrosia or many of the others.

Dani Grigg said...

Gala apples are never good. Trust your results there. This is great! Feeling apple poor, though. I've never seen ambrosia or many of the others.

Tara said...

I love this post! So clever. Taste testing is my favorite. I'm inspired to do this more often.

Derek Culbertson said...

This is neat! I'm not an avid apple eater myself, but with all of this new information, it makes me want to expand from the usual honey-crisp or pink lady.

victoria scott said...

this looks really good !