Commercially-popular apple cultivars are soft but crisp. Other desired qualities in modern commercial apple breeding are a colourful skin, absence of russeting, ease of shipping, lengthy storage ability, high yields, disease resistance,
Old cultivars are often oddly shaped, russeted, and have a variety of textures and colours. Many of them have excellent flavour (often better than most modern cultivars), but may have other problems which make them commercially unviable, such as low yield, liability to disease, or poor tolerance for storage or transport. A few old cultivars are still produced on a large scale, but many have been kept alive by home gardeners and farmers that sell directly to local markets. Many unusual and locally important cultivars with their own unique taste and appearance are out there to discover; apple conservation campaigns have sprung up around the world to preserve such local cultivars from extinction.
Although most cultivars are bred for eating fresh (dessert apples), some are cultivated specifically for cooking (cooking apples) or producing cider. Cider apples are typically too tart and astringent to eat fresh, but they give the beverage a rich flavour that dessert apples cannot.