When you think of sour apples, the Granny Smith apple is the variety that first comes to mind. Their strong tart flavor sets them apart from other varieties of apples. So, why are Granny Smith apples sour?
Granny Smith apples are sour because they’re high in fruit acids and lean in sugar. The sweet-sour flavor balance depends on the acidity level of an apple. The presence of malic acid enhances their sourness and cuts through the sweetness. Hence, the dominant flavor of Granny Smith apples is sour.
Let’s understand this in more detail now.
Understanding The Science Behind The Sweetness And Sourness Of Apples
There are nearly 7500 different varieties of apples in the world.
Each variety is different from the other because of small yet significant differences in shape, size, and flavor.
Thus, all types of apples have their characteristic traits.
Apples have two dominating flavors—sweet and sour.
Their taste will depend on the balance of these two flavors.
All apples contain fruit sugars like fructose which make them sweet.
They also contain natural acids like malic acid, which are responsible for their sourness.
When the acid levels are high in an apple, the sourness levels increase.
High acid content also gives the apple a crispy bite.
Now, very sweet apples have high sugar content.
Unless their acid levels cut through this sweetness, they will be delicate and sweet.
We can also look at the flavor profile in terms of pH. The lower the pH level of an apple, the more acidic it is.
Granny Smith apples have a pH level of 3.2, which is lower than most other varieties.
This translates into higher acidity and a strong sourness.
Malic acid and ascorbic acid are the two types of acids that are abundantly present in apples.
Malic acid is extremely tart, even more than ascorbic acid.
It produces an acidic sensation in the mouth that lingers for a long time.
High malic acid levels make Granny Smith apples very tart.
It’s difficult to eat this fruit raw without puckering up because of this dominant acidic taste.
Another factor that affects the sourness level is the presence of tannin. Many fruit peels contain tannin.
Granny Smith apple peels also have tannins which enhance their tartness.
The thick skin also makes these apples very crispy.
How Do Granny Smith Apples Taste?
Granny Smith apples have various distinctive features that distinguish them from other apples.
It’s also a very versatile apple that finds multiple uses in cooking and baking.
One of the main reasons why it’s extensively used is its unique taste profile.
It’s strongly acidic and extremely sour.
The acidic nature of this apple also makes it crispy. It’s bursting with liquid and has a sharp taste.
Interestingly, the storage conditions of this apple affect its flavor.
Granny Smith apples are sourest when they’re just picked.
The flavor mellows with time, and its sharpness declines. It doesn’t become sweet.
However, the acidity reduces, and the flavors become more balanced.
The color of the apple also changes as it ripens in storage.
As time passes, the skin develops a slight yellow tinge.
When it’s fully ripe, Granny Smith apples are very crunchy and have a balanced taste.
Although it will still be tart, you will feel hints of sweetness shining through.
The flavors of the Granny Smith variety are affected by the environment in which the tree grows.
Fruits harvested from places where the temperature doesn’t fall below freezing are not as sour.
How To Make Granny Smith Apples Less Sour?
You can eat Granny Smith apples raw.
However, they’re not the best apples to enjoy in the raw form because of their strong tartness.
They’re usually used as an all-purpose apple for cooking and baking.
The complex tart flavors and delicate sweetness create a complex taste profile that works very well in cooked and baked items.
Now, many people find it very difficult to eat Granny Smith apples raw.
The strong tartness can make you pucker up when you bite into it.
However, there is an easy way to dial down the tartness of this apple.
You can slice the apple and sprinkle salt on it. Salt will elevate the sweetness and tone down its sourness.
Although there is no scientific explanation for why this happens, chefs and household cooks have been using this technique successfully for years.
Hence, you can consider trying this method to make Granny Smith apples less sour.
How To Use Sour Granny Smith Apples?
Some people like to eat Granny Smith apples in salads or as a raw snack.
However, not everyone is fond of its sour taste and acidic aftertaste.
Granny Smith apples find more use in cooking and baking.
Their texture works well in baked goods because they don’t disintegrate during baking.
Here are some of the ways you can use them.
Apple pie tastes best when it’s made with sour apples.
Cooking mellows the sourness of Granny Smith apples and helps the sweetness shine through.
It works beautifully in pies and other apple-based desserts.
Cider is one of the best ways to use sour apples like Granny Smith apples.
The sour notes and crispiness of Granny Smith apples add a zesty punch to cider and makes it more refreshing.
Either use a cider press or a juicer to extract cider from these apples.
Technically, you can make applesauce with any apple.
However, if you prefer applesauce with a tangy taste, Granny Smith is the variety to try.
While cooking these apples, their sourness reduces but doesn’t disappear.
It blends well with the sweet notes of the apple to create a delicious sauce with complex flavors.
4. Cakes And Muffins
Granny Smith apples are good for making cakes and muffins.
Their high acid content prevents the flesh from disintegrating into mush.
Hence, they can withstand the heat of the stovetop and oven without losing their shape.
They also have just the right amount of moisture to make a cake soft and moist but not soggy.
The sweet-sour balance of flavors in Granny Smith makes it a delicious choice for cakes.
You can use it alone or in combination with other varieties of apples for more complex flavors.
5. Apple Crumble
Granny Smith apples are an excellent choice for apple crumble because of their mix of sweet and tart flavors.
When this combines with the crispy texture of the crumble topping, you have a delicious dessert.
Since these apples have firm flesh, they will not release too much liquid into the base. Hence, the dessert will hold its form.
Granny Smith apples are an excellent ingredient for salads because of their unique flavor.
Their crispy bite also adds crunchiness to salads.
The sweet and sour flavors work well with ingredients like onions and cucumbers to create a medley of refreshing flavors.
Hence, it’s a good addition to a salad and is perfect for summers.
7. Caramel Apples
The sharp tartness of Granny Smith apples works beautifully against the crunchy sweetness of caramel sauce in caramel apples.
The result is a perfect fall dessert.