The big three classifications for apples include sharps, sweets, and sharp-sweets. As a result, apple cider can be classified based on the type of apples used, and you should select your cider based on the apple.
Below, you will find over 9 apple cider varieties based on the apple category and variety they are derived from.
Sharp apples are those that can make your lips pucker up with a single bite.
Sharp apples are a great choice for apple cider. Sharp apples are used in 25% to 33% of most cider juice. That’s because the acidity balances out the sweetness and inhibits any bacterial growth.
European apple cider almost always includes sharp apples, though they aren’t as common in America where sweets reign supreme.
Granny Smith is the most common type of sharp apple. In fact, it is one of the few sharps that are sold at just about every grocery store in America. Although there are other sharps available, the Granny Smith is the easiest to get ahold of.
In certain parts of the world, apple ciders are always made with a little bit of Granny Smith juice. For example, most ciders from the Pacific West always include Granny Smith apples.
Rhode Island Greening
Another popular sharp used in apple cider is the Rhode Island Greening. Although this apple is not available at all stores, it is a favorite for some northeastern cidermakers.
If you’re interested in trying this unique apple for cider, you will likely need to go to a specialty store.
Even though Granny Smith and Rhode Island Greenings are the most popular sharps for apple cider, there are other sharp apples to consider.
- Most heirlooms
- Northern Spy
When most Americans think of apples, they think of sweet apples. That’s because the vast majority of apples at the grocery store fall into the sweet category. Sweet apples have high sugar, low acid, and low tannins, making them super sweet.
Because of how many sweet apples there are at most grocery stores, you shouldn’t have any issue finding sweet apples for your cider. That being said, some cider fanatics scoff at the idea of making apple cider from sweets.
Golden Delicious apples are a favorite of many. They have an incredibly sweet flavor, but they are also firm and crisp, making them satisfying to crunch into.
The exact sweetness of the fruit will depend on where they are grown. If the Golden Delicious apples come from a cooler climate, the amount of acid increases and ends up creating a sweeter flavor.
Gala apples are another popular sweet apple in America. In fact, Gala apples have been the most popular apple type in the United States, beating out the Red Delicious that reigned supreme for 50 years.
Gala’s skin is typically yellow and orange with some red hints. The flavor is mildly sweet, but there are some tart notes as well.
Honeycrisp apples are relatively large and are often very juicy and refreshing to bite into. They are known for having a simply sweet flavor, but the taste might be a bit bland if you want something a bit more nuanced.
Fuji apples are incredibly large and contain a lot of sugar. These apples are generally dense, sweet, and crisp. Fuji apples actually contain so much sugar that they are often classified as the sweetest apple available today.
Just as there are different types of sharps, there are many types of sweets as well. Just about any sweet apple you find will make a good cider because of its appealing flavor.
Here are some other sweet apples you might want to consider:
Whereas sharp apples are very tart and sweet apples are sugary, sharp-sweets bring the best of both worlds. They have high sugar, high acidity, and low tannins, making them tart and sweet. Some people compare eating a sharp-sweet apple to sucking on a lemon that is covered in sugar.
Technically speaking, sharp-sweets are not a traditional apple category. It wasn’t until the early years of the American colonists that sharp-sweets even came about. Consequently, the majority of sharp-sweets belong to the American heirloom apple categories.
Sharp-sweet apples are the most difficult to find at all grocery stores. As we’ve already discussed, grocery stores offer an abundance of sweet apples and almost always offer a Granny Smith sharp as well.
This is not always the case with sharp-sweets, but certain areas in the States prefer sharp-sweets, such as in the northeast.
McIntosh apples are frequently used in desserts, ciders, and other cooking purposes. That’s because it doesn’t take as much time to prepare, and its sharp-sweet flavor is appealing for a variety of eaters.
The Newtown Pippin is nowhere near as popular as the McIntosh, but it is still a great choice for apple cider. It is slightly tarter than the McIntosh, making it a good choice if the classic apple cider flavor isn’t tart enough for you.
It offers a bit more tartness without making your lips pucker completely.
The Esopus Spitzenburg is an apple not known outside of the New England area. Though it isn’t very popular worldwide, it is known for being the most beloved apple variety in the area. In fact, people rave that it is the best-tasting apple and creates absolutely delicious apple cider.
If you want an apple cider that has cult followings, make your cider from the Esopus Spitzenburg apple.
There are quite a few other sharp-sweets on the market today. The vast majority of them are found in America. Here are some other sharp-sweets to consider: