“Fresh-eating apples” is a term used to describe apples that you can eat whole, and raw. You wash ’em, or rub them against your sleeve, and sink your teeth into them as is. Consequently, another term for this category of apple is eat “out of hand.”
Some people say “eating apples.” This can be confusing, though, because most apples are intended to be consumed in some form.
Others use the term “dessert apples.” In North America, food writers seem increasingly to be using the term “dessert apples” to mean apples that you can use as a dessert if you cook them into a prepared dessert. In the UK, it’s the opposite: dessert apples particularly means sweet apples that you can eat fresh as a dessert in themselves as opposed to tart apples that need preparation — but then a lot of people’s ideas of an apple you can eat fresh includes some pretty tangy ones that would have other people puckering up.
But whether “dessert apples” means apples for pies, or apples for fresh-eating, the problem with the term remains its lack of basic utility: aside from the applesauce you serve with your pork chop, the apples you brew into cider, or the apples you dry for doll-heads, what apples don’t you use as a dessert?
Consequently, CooksInfo.com has decided that “fresh-eating apples” is the least-unclear term of the lot.
Other generic groups of apples are cooking apples, sauce apples, pie apples, and cider apples.
A French term for this category of apples, “Pommes à couteau”, means apples that you eat with a knife.