Dessert Apples are those which are meant to be eaten raw, without cooking. There are a wide variety of eating apples available. Some are named after its color, whereas some are named after the country producing it. They have a red, green or yellow skin and a sweet to tart tasting crisp white to cream colored flesh. They are round in shape with a depression from where they were attached to the tree. These are specially cultivated for eating raw.

Golden Delicious is a very popular as a supermarket apple variety, and now undergoing something of a rehabilitation amongst apple enthusiasts who are re-discovering its potential.

The variety was discovered by a West Virginia farmer at the end of the 19th century. It is generally considered to be a seedling of Grimes Golden, to which it bears a strong resemblance. The variety was soon taken up by the famous Stark Brothers nursery, who were so impressed by it that they bought the original tree and an area of land around it. The tree lived on into the 1950s, by which time it had become firmly established as one of the world's great apple varieties.

Golden Delicious is now planted in all the major warm apple growing areas of the world. From a grower's perspective Golden Delicious is an attractive proposition - very easy to grow, heavy crops, and fruit which keeps in storage for a long time after harvest.

These qualities meant that by the mid-late 20th century Golden Delicious had become one of the mainstays of supermarket apple sales, along with Red Delicious and Granny Smith. Towards the end of the 20th century when flavour once again became important in apples, detractors saw Golden Delicious as bland and boring, and it became a victim of its own success.

However enthusiasts are increasingly re-discovering Golden Delicious, and recognising that behind the mass-production and supermarket shelf-appeal there is a very good apple. Part of the problem is that fruit picked for supermarkets is often picked when still green, and then stored for months before sale. In contrast when allowed to ripen to a golden-green color on the tree the true flavour is revealed - exceptionally sweet and rich, almost like eating raw sugar cane. Golden Delicious is also a versatile apple, and can be used both for dessert and cooking purposes, and it has an attractive appearance - which can indeed be golden if left to mature on the tree.

Furthermore, there is no doubting the importance of Golden Delicious in the sheer number of new varieties which have been raised from it. You do not need to be a professional grower to realise that crossing Golden Delicious with Cox's Orange Pippin (or their respective offspring) might lead to something with both the sweetness of Golden Delicious and the richness and complexity of Cox, and that is indeed what many have tried. That other supermarket staple, Gala, is a good example of this strategy.

Golden Delicious can grow well in the UK provided you have a warm and sheltered microclimate. Our photo shows an English-grown Golden Delicious - not the perfect specimen you might see in a supermarket, but still a nice crisp sweet apple. The variety known as Yellow Delicious is believed to be a synonym for Golden Delicious, possibly the result of unauthorized propagation from the original Golden Delicious tree.

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Perhaps the most instantly recognisable of all apple varieties and one of the most widely known, Granny Smith is also one of Australia's most famous exports.

Granny Smith pre-dates the modern approach to apple development and marketing. Like all the best old varieties it has a bizarre history, being discovered in Austrialia in the 1860s as a seedling growing in the remains of a rubbish tip. The true parentage is still unknown but is possibly French Crab. The discoverer - a Mrs Maria Smith (sometimes referred to as Mary Smith but see note below) - found that the apple was versatile for cooking and eating, and was involved in spreading its popularity. In an inspired piece of marketing she called the new apple Granny Smith. By the 1960s Granny Smith was practically syonymous with 'apple' and the variety was used by the Beatles as the logo for their company 'Apple Records'.

Granny Smith was one of the original staple supermarket varieties, and one of the first international varieties, a role for which it was well suited. The tough skin and amazing keeping qualities meant it could easily be shipped around the world. It requires a warm climate to ripen properly, and performs well in the main apple-growing regions of the southern hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere it is grown in France and the warmer zones of North America. The trademark apple-green skin requires warm days and nights - we have seen Granny Smiths grown at a relatively high altitude in central France which develop a blush because of the cold night temperatures towards the end of the growing season.

There is only one word to describe the flavour of Granny Smith: acidic. It is an uncompromising crisp hard apple with a very sharp taste. However, served slightly chilled it can also be very refreshing, and works well in salads. The flavor sweetens in storage. Nevertheless, its share of the international market is on the decline, with supermarkets preferring to sell bi-coloured varieties with a sweeter flavour.

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Idared is notable for its exceptional keeping qualities. It has a pleasant mild but undistinguished apple flavor.

Idared - the red apple from Idaho - is an attractive apple with a mild apple flavor.

Its main feature is its remarkably long storage potential - even in a domestic fridge it will readily keep for 6 months. As a result it has become quite popular, both in North America and Europe, inspite of its average flavor.

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Discovery is one of the most popular English early apples. It is grown commercially on a small scale in the UK, because unlike almost all other early apple varieties it has a reasonable shelf-life - perhaps a week or so. It is quite widely available in the UK in late August and early September.

Discovery is a bit like Beaujolais Noveau - its appeal is entirely down to being fresh and new. Neither does the flavour stand much comparison with later season varieties. However, it is a change from imported apples when it comes into season, and nice when served slightly chilled from the fridge. As you might expect, the flavour is acidic rather than sweet and has little depth to it. Interestingly, just like Beaujolais, Discovery can have a hint of strawberry flavour, although this is very variable. The colours are a fresh yellow-green, usually with dark red patches where the sun has caught it.

Discovery is a very important apple for commercial growers and supermarkets in the UK because it allows them to start marketing the new English apple season, and get consumers primed to buy English apples again. However there has been increasing debate within the industry about what many insiders see as a poor-quality apple, and concern that consumers may be turned-off English apples at the start of the season if the flavour does not match expectations. The problem is that the shelf-life is very short, so if the crop is not picked at exactly the right time it will be either under-ripe or past its best - in this respect it is more like a soft fruit than an apple. As it stands the UK industry has to rely on Discovery at this time of the year but if an alternative early-season variety could be found it is likely that Discovery would rapidly fall out of favour as a commercial apple variety.

Discovery is often thought of as an old variety, but was found in the late 1940s by a fruit farm worker in Langham, Essex, who planted some pips of Worcester Pearmain in his garden. Discovery is therefore a seedling of Worcester Pearmain, a 19th century early-season apple variety which lends its attractive red finish. Worcester Pearmain is probably the source of the strawberry flavour, which is also found in some of its other offspring including Katy, which is similar in appearance to Discovery but has a bit more depth of flavour and arrives slightly later in the season. Scrumptious, a modern early variety, is also closely related. An interesting characteristic of Discovery is that the red skin colour can occasionally bleed slightly into the flesh. There are some sports where this red-fleshed characteristic is more pronounced.

Discovery is a good apple tree for the garden, being fairly easy to grow. Having your own tree also means that you can enjoy the apples at their best, which is often not the case with shop-bought examples.

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Katy is an attractive medium-sized apple, usually bright red in colour over a light green yellow background. The flesh is a pale cream colour, and on the softer side of crunchy. Katy is usually a very juicy, and when fresh from the tree the juice goes everywhere as you bite into it. It has a fairly mild apple flavour, a bit of refreshing acidity, and in a good year a hint of strawberry. The flavour is perhaps not the greatest, but certainly very pleasant. If you have a surplus (and with Katy you generally do have a surplus), then Katy is an especially good apple for juicing - the juice is a lovely red/orange colour - similar to pink grapefruit juice in colour.

Katy is an easy-going early-season apple. The pretty appearance and juicy flavour mean it is popular with children, and it becomes available just in time for lunch-boxes for the new school term. As well as being easy to eat, it is also one of the easiest apple varieties to grow - very productive, and trouble-free. An extra bonus for gardeners is that Katy produces a lot of blossom over a long-period, so is very useful to aid in pollinating other apple varieties.

Katy originates from Sweden, where it is known as Katya, and as such is well-suited to growing in cool temperate climates. It was developed in 1947 as a cross between James Grieve and Worcester Pearmain and is very much a mixture of these two varieties. Worcester Pearmain is an English early-season variety from the 19th century, which used to be quite widely grown. Its most recognisable trait is a subtle strawberry flavour, and this is also sometimes present in Katy. James Grieve is another early-season variety, and its most notable characteristic is lots and lots of acidic juice. As an early-season variety, Katy is one of the best apple varieties for northern temperate growing areas with shorter growing areas, since it will ripen even in a poor summer.

For an interesting tasting exercise, see if you can find Elton Beauty or Lord Lambourne - like Katy, these are both crosses between James Grieve and Worcester Pearmain. Katy is available for a few weeks in late August and early September. Like most early varieties it is very refreshing when straight from the tree, but goes soft after a while - best kept in a refrigerator and nice to eat when cool rather than at room temperature. Fortunately the apples keep nicely on the tree and can be picked over a period of about 2-3 weeks.

Although usually regarded as a dessert apple, thanks to its inherent acidity Katy is also a useful culinary apple - try it as the basis of apple crumble or tarte tatin. It breaks down into soft chunks during cooking, with a good sweet/sharp flavour.

In summary, Katy is a really excellent apple for gardeners in temperate climates. It produces an attractive neat tree, very easy to grow, and highly productive, and the fruit can be eaten fresh or juiced or even used for cooking.

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This is the classic English apple, often regarded as the finest of all dessert apples, and the inspiration for this website. It arose in England in the 19th century as a chance seedling, and has inspired apple lovers ever since. It remains unsurpassed for its richness and complexity of flavour. Two characteristics tend to be apparent in its offspring to a greater or lesser extent. Firstly the relatively pronounced and complex "aromatic" flavour which elevates it above most other varieties. Secondly, the striking and attractive orange-red colouring.

It is the range and complexity of flavours which makes Cox's Orange Pippin so appealing to enthusiasts of the "English" style of apple. This is a variety for the connoisseur, who can delight in the appreciation of the remarkable range of subtle flavours - pear, melon, freshly-squeezed Florida orange juice, and mango are all evident in a good example. Almost all other apples taste one-dimensional alongside a good Cox's Orange Pippin. Although Cox is often considered a variety to keep for a few months, we suspect this is a hangover from Victorian tradition before the invention of modern controlled atmosphere storage techniques, because it does not really keep that long. The authorities may not agree but in our opinion it is at its best when picked fully ripe straight from the tree, or within a few weeks at most. In this respect, Cox is not really a "late" apple variety and is perhaps better considered a late-picking mid-season variety - and some of its offspring such as Ellison's Orange are definitely mid-season varieties. The term "orange" in the context of apple varieties commonly refers to an apple with an orange flush. Many of these varieties such as Kidd's Orange Red, Ellison's Orange and Tydemann's Late Orange are related to Cox, but it can be applied to others such as Blenheim Orange.

Not surprisingly, Cox has been frequently used in breeding programmes, with growers seeking to marry its unique flavour with desirable characteristics from other varieties. Whilst some might argue that none of its offspring achieve the unique blend of flavours that Cox does, many of these varieties are nonetheless excellent in their own right - and to many people are more appealing than the more "serious" nature of the Cox. We list many of these further down this page.

It is also worth seeking out Queen Cox, a 'sport' of the variety which has more flushed appearance and a crisper texture which - especially if you like crisp apples - is arguably an improvement over the original.

Unfortunately England's greatest apple is not particularly easy to grow. It needs a relatively cool maritime climate and is also prone to diseases.

Although quite widely available in UK supermarkets, either from UK or New Zealand suppliers, in our experience these apples often have an empty flavour and can be very disappointing, given the legendary reputation of this variety. Therefore, growing your own may be the only answer, inspite of the potential difficulties. After picking, the apples can either be eaten straight away or stored in a cold dark place to allow the flavour to develop - but best eaten before Christmas. Alternatively, Cox can often be found at farmers's markets.

Whilst the reputation of Cox's Orange Pippin is known and respected worldwide, many apple enthusiasts outside its native home in England who have tried growing it are sometimes left unimpressed with the results. It seems that the true flavor of Cox's Orange Pippin is only achieved in the marginal cool temperate climate of England, although the climates of the Pacific North West of the USA and Canada, and Nova Scotia in eastern Canada come close.

If you live in an area with a continental climate you may be more succcessful with some of the close relatives, of which Rubinette is probably the best example. Although still not particularly easy, Rubinette can be grown successfully in many areas of North America where Cox's Orange Pippin does not seem to work, and crucially, when you bite into a Rubinette you are coming very close to the flavor of Cox's Orange Pippin.

Flavour is a very personal thing but Cox's Orange Pippin is essential reading for anyone interested in apples, because the insight it gives into the breadth of flavor that can be achieved. It is unquestionably the benchmark against which all others are measured, as well as being (along with Golden Delicious) one of the most influential apples for the development of other varieties.

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Elstar is another successful offspring of Golden Delicious, developed in the Netherlands in the 1950s. It is a popular easy-eating dessert apple, widely grown in Europe but less well-known in the UK or North America. There are a number of commercial sports, including Elista and Valstar.

Elstar has a distinctive appearance - difficult to describe but quite apparent once you have seen it. The skin is marbled, often with a soft sheen to it. It also lacks the perfect smoothness of many modern varieties. The underlying colour is golden yellow but overlaid with deep red. There is also a "sport" known as Red Elstar, where the red colour usually covers the entire surface with only the occasional peep of yellow. The flavour can be more intense than is often the case with other Golden Delicious offspring. It retains the appealing sweetness - usually described as 'honeyed' in most apple text books - but with a good balance of acidity.

Elstar is definitely a crunchy apple, but not as crisp or hard as some - definitely the softer side of crunchy. The flesh is lemon-white.

In most Golden Delicious offspring it is the other parent which provides the essential counter-balance to offset the sweet blandness of Golden Delicious. In the case of Elstar this is Ingrid Marie, a variety which originates from Denmark. Although not a widely-known apple, it lends a bit of oomph to the mix - inherited from its own parent, Cox's Orange Pippin. The result is Elstar, which is probably one of the best Golden Delicious offspring.

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Braeburn was the first of the new wave of bi-colored apple varieties. It originated in New Zealand in the 1950s, and by the last decades of the 20th century had been planted in all the major warm apple-growing regions of the world. Braeburn accounts for 40% of the entire apple production of New Zealand. Even in conservative Washington state, the most important apple-producing area of the USA, where Red Delicious and Golden Delicious have always held sway, Braeburn is now in the top 5 varieties produced.

The reasons for this success are not difficult to pinpoint. What marks it out from the competition is flavor. Braeburn's depth of flavor makes its main competition - Red Delicious and Golden Delicious - seem one-dimensional in comparison. At a time when consumers were starting to look for something less bland in their weekly shopping, Braeburn was the right apple at the right time.

The first Braeburn tree was discovered growing in New Zealand in the 1950s, and is named after Braeburn Orchards, where it was first grown commercially. It is generally thought to be a seedling of a variety called Lady Hamilton. The other parent is not known, but is popularly believed to be Granny Smith - quite likely given the time and location of its discovery, but there seems to be no scientific evidence to confirm this theory.

When conditions are right there is no doubt that Braeburn is a first-class dessert apple. It easily outstrips its late 20th century peer group (Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Red Delicious) with a richness and complexity of flavour that they cannot match. In fact in many ways Braeburn is now the benchmark apple variety against which all other commercial varieties should be ranked. It is crisp, without being hard, and very juicy. It snaps cleanly to the bite, and there is an immediate rush of strong apple flavours. The overall flavour is sharp and refreshing but with a good balance of sweetness - and never sugary. There is occasionally a hint of pear-drops to the flavour of a new-season Braeburn (a characteristic which is more prominent in its offspring Jazz). Braeburn is at its best when cooled slightly below room temperature, and if you get a good one it really reminds you why you like eating apples.

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A very popular commercial variety, with a good flavour. Inherits many of the good qualities of its parents Jonathan and Golden Delicious.

Jonagold is high quality American apple, developed in the 1940s. As its name suggests, this is a cross between a Jonathan and a Golden Delicious. It is quite widely grown, and unusually for a Golden Delicious cross, is not limited to the warm apple regions, although it is not often found in the UK.

Jonagold is a large apple, and makes a substantial snack. If you are struggling to eat your 5 portions of fruit and veg per day, this can help! The large size is a good clue that this is a tetraploid apple variety, with 3 sets of genes. As a result it is a poor pollinator of other apple varieties, and needs two different nearby compatible pollinating apple varieties.

The coloring is yellow of Golden Delicious, with large flushes of red. This is a crisp apple to bite into, with gleaming white flesh. The flavour is sweet but with a lot of balancing acidity - a very pleasant apple. Jonagold's other parent, Jonathan, is an old American variety which was discovered in the 1820s.

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