It's hard for me to decide what apple I want to buy from all the different choices in a store. I can look at the colour, the size and maybe carefully feel if it's hard or soft, but that's it.

This page (archive) gives quite some information about apple types, but it's difficult to search (for example a Google search for "sour site:orangepippin.com/apples" results in nothing useful) and it's more about apple identification than about apple choice.

How can I find out how sweet/sour an apple is, how hard/soft, how durable it is, maybe even how much of which vitamin is in it, just by conducting non-destructive tests on apples in a store? A website that's easier to search would also be acceptable, although that wouldn't work if I'm offline.

  • Don't forget to smell.
    – user34961
    Nov 14, 2017 at 12:24
  • Do you have some comparisons what it should smell like for certain factors? Nov 14, 2017 at 12:25
  • While it doesn't help your attribute-specific questions, I've heard that apples bred for appearance usually end up lacking in flavor - so apples from bins with more variations, different sizes - especially smaller, (cosmetic) imperfections, duller color, should be tastier than apples which look very similar, larger, shiny and, well, pretty. It has seemed to work when I've used it as a guideline.
    – Megha
    Nov 16, 2017 at 6:40
  • This website has a search bar and seems pretty reasonable: rittmanorchards.com/apple-chart Oct 17, 2022 at 23:46

2 Answers 2


Tl;dr: If you know what kind of apple you're looking at, you don't need to test the apple.

I don't think you can tell any of those things about an unidentified apple without destroying it somehow. You can tell how hard/soft it is by pressing firmly, but this will leave a dent in the apple, so that may or may not count as destroyed for you.

However, if you know what variety of apple you're looking at, you can know these types of things without even touching the apple, as each variety has its own characteristics regarding sweetness, crispness, juiciness, and other qualities. For instance, Honeycrisp apples are typically very sweet and crisp (as the name implies) and are excellent for eating out of hand. You can find more information about different varieties of apples here. Grocery stores (at least in the USA) typically label their apples by variety. If you shop at a farmers market and the varieties aren't labeled, the farmer/seller can usually tell you (if he can't, I probably wouldn't buy from him anyways, but that's just me).

As far as durability goes, that is largely dependent on how you store your apples. Refrigerated apples last longest, as they do not continue to ripen in the cooler temperatures of the fridge. They will if left on the counter, though, leading to mushy, rotting apples in just a week or two. (I have successfully kept apples in my refrigerator for several months, though those were fresh-from-the-orchard apples, so your results may vary.)

Nutritional content varies by variety as well, though I was only able to find a single source focusing on vitamin C. However, as vitamin C and potassium the main nutrients in apples, that may be sufficient as far as varietal differences go. You can find some more general nutritional information for apples here.

  • Your first link is pretty similar to the page I found. There a search for "sour" also finds nothing. This source "Changes in Vitamin C Content and Acidity of Apples during Cool Storage" sounds interesting, but sadly it's not available anymore. Nov 14, 2017 at 18:31
  • Basically I want to know a few types (so that I always find one) that are quite a bit sour, but not extremely, not very sweet and have a pretty hard consistency. Nov 14, 2017 at 18:32
  • @Fabian That source may not be available as linked from my link, but the relevant data is reproduced in the table on the page I linked to. If that's not sufficient for you, there is an email link at the bottom of the page, you may be able to request the full study from the author of that page.
    – senschen
    Nov 14, 2017 at 19:12
  • 2
    @Fabian People don't typically talk about apples in terms of "sourness." They usually use terms like "tart" or "less sweet" because almost by definition an apple that we would want to eat is sweet, not sour. If you want sour you would want to try for something like a crab apple, but I don't know if/where you can buy those, as they aren't something typically considered fit for eating (at least not without a lot of sugar added). They are usually quite hard, though, so they do sound like what you're aiming for. Failing that, you would want a tart variety like Granny Smith, Baldwin, or Idared.
    – senschen
    Nov 14, 2017 at 19:15
  • Never heard the term "tart" before. Thanks, that gave me some good hints then! Nov 14, 2017 at 21:16

Choose the apple you like to eat! we cannot tell you to like one type because it is more or less sweet or more or less acidic ..

You cannot choose an apple only on its physical appearance; you have to eat it.

Apples of the same kind will usually have the same characteristics, but might be different if they come from different orchards.

The only thing you need to look at is what you intend to do with the apples.

Are you eating them fresh and raw? are you cooking them for pies or purée or sauce ?

Some variety are best for pies because they hold their "shape" (do not get mushy) some others are better in salads because they do not turn brown (oxydize).

  • I don't think the OP is asking us which apples he should prefer. To me, the question is quite clear that for each purchase, he knows which qualities he wants in an apple and is aksing if he can empirically find out these qualities when holding an apple in the supermarket.
    – rumtscho
    Nov 14, 2017 at 13:40

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