Apple crisp is the kind of dish most cooks have in their back pocket. It makes a homey dessert or savory side to grilled or roast pork, chicken and lamb.

For a savory dish, you want an apple that isn’t too sweet or too juicy, one that stands up to a strong garden herb, such as rosemary, sage and marjoram. Many of the best varieties are available only at our farmers markets and they’re at their peak right now. Here’s what to look for:

Chestnut Crabapples are fist-sized and crisp with a rich nutty flavor, fit nicely into lunchboxes and make a fine quick snack. Baked, they’re just right for garnishing a fall salad of dark greens. Core and stuff the apple with a little goat cheese or mild Cheddar and bake in a 350-degree oven until the cheese melts and becomes bubbly.

If you’re looking for an apple that can be prepared ahead, the SnowSweet doesn’t turn brown when sliced. This large apple has a nicely balanced flavor that’s terrific sautéed with onions and piled on top of grilled or seared pork chops and sausages.

You can’t beat the Fireside for savory dishes. These slightly peppery apples take nicely to rosemary and the firm, fine-grained flesh won’t collapse in on itself when baked. Fill the cored apples with toasted nuts, a nob of butter and chopped savory herbs to serve with roast turkey.

Perhaps my favorite all-around apple for sauce, sweet or savory, is the Keepsake. Add a sprig of rosemary, sage or marjoram to the pot as the applesauce simmers, or try stirring in a spoonful of curry powder. Keepsake’s flavor is nutty, a tad spicy and the texture is wonderfully hard and dry. One of the best storing apples, the Keepsake is well named.

The Prairie Spy, the Keepsake’s forerunner, is large, firm and dense. Toss Prairie Spy slices into the roasting pan for chicken or pork.

These apples are interchangeable in any savory recipe and they work wonderfully together, the flavors of fall in one dish.


Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at