Experience with Red Fleshed Apples

I also have a ‘Rosy’ type apple that I love the taste of and that is Mott Pink. It was supposedly marked as a mite magnet, but mine is not. The apples sound alot like Patty’s Pink Lady apples. Tart, sweet, juicy and pretty. The flesh is light pink to ‘hot’ pink really fun apples and delish.

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I don’t grow apples. At least not yet. My interest in red apples is 2 fold. One Colors mean more nutrition in most cases. Red and orange fruits and vegetables are among the highest in vitamin C.
A one-half-cup serving of red bell pepper provides 95 milligrams of
vitamin C, which is about 25 milligrams more than a medium orange – the
popular gold standard for vitamin C.
Second most reds are heirlooms, and again known to be more nutritious.
I’m growing pink and purple fleshed radishes as they loaded with anthocyanins as are red apples. Some research supports increased resistance to cancer and heart disease from their consumption.
Pritam Kalia in India developed vegetables that are loaded with various anthocyanins to help breed more nutritious food. I’m growing radishes and carrots from his breeding program this year for the first time.

I hope they taste good, but that is secondary to their nutritional value.


Hope to compare notes on Rubaiyat this fall. Hope for one or two this year.

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Rome definitely can have some red tint to the flesh, like some other very red skinned apples do occasionally.


I think the red fleshed gene pool holds amazing potential in the flavor department. I’ve never tasted the type of berry/fruitpunch tones present in red fleshed apples anywhere else. Yes, they need improvement, but that’s his point. Animals are also attracted to fruit color, including the flesh. Maybe they’re idiots too along with the rest of us.

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I think the red fleshed trait often comes with other traits that are not desirable. The best red fleshed apples I’ve tasted are Williams Pride (barely much red flesh) and Pink Parfait and both are barely red inside. But, they do have unique and amazing flavors. Whether those traits are separable or not remains to be seen as far as I can tell. I’m really interested in maypole. It has crabby flavors going on, like high astringency, but it is very red and has a lot of really wonderful flavor. I really like eating them, but not for everyone. Rubaiyat seems more refined for it’s depth of color than average, but it has many faults such as early dropping, and going mealy. I think we are just going to have to keep making crosses to find out if we can ever get a truly stellar desert apple with deeply red flesh. My first red fleshed seedling crosses are blooming this year! Derek Mills seems to have the largest collection and so probably the most experience tasting them all. I think the general consensus is that they need improvement though. low sugar, poor texture and astringency seem to be the norm.


I’ve never crossed my mind to consider William’s Pride a red flesh apple.


It probably isn’t everywhere, but mine have some and I’ve seen redder ones even. It definitely has the trait.

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Out of my almost 1,000 varieties of apples about 140 are red fleshed of some type, either solid red or red core, red on the outer edge only or red striped through the flesh, pink flesh ones with the same variations and even a few orange flesh ones.

For the most part they are tart, some extremely so, but not all are that way. Some, like Red Devil, Discovery and Geneva are surprisingly sweet.

Not sure how many member of this forum are members of NAFEX but I wrote two articles for the current issue of the Pomona where I talk about red fleshed apples and how there is a large agricultural conglomeration that is developing what they say will be the first good tasting red fleshed apple. Well maybe they will be the first to bring it to mass production but not the first to develop a sweet tasting red fleshed variety, they exist already.

In the United States most of the red fleshed varieties that have been around for a while were developed by Albert Etter in California using Surprise as his red fleshed basis and Dr Nels Hansen in the Dakota’s using Niedzweckyana as his basis for red flesh.

For the most part Etter red fleshed apples have green leaves, greenish to yellow skin, green cambium, light pink to darker pink flesh. A few will have more reddish skin.

Hansen developed varieties have reddish leaves, red cambium and darker red flesh.

Part of the fun of being an apple or fruit nut is growing your own seedlings and see what you get. Every year I grow hundreds of seedlings in addition to grafting 300 new trees. Most of my seedlings are trying to get desirable red fleshed varieties. I have one that was a Pink Pearl x Black Gilliflower cross that I named after my wife, it has the yellow skin of Pink Pearl, the shape of Black Gilliflower and light pink sweet flesh. I have one I named after myself, Derek’s Pink Dream, that is the same cross but it has the shape and color of Pink Pearl but is sweeter. One that I am going to name this year is one of my favorites after fruiting for the last couple of years, it is a cross between Rubaiyat x Golden Russet and has the outside look of Golden Russet but when you bite into it is bright red flesh.

Derek Mills
Hocking Hills Orchard on the web and Facebook


Will any of these be available to us home growers?



OK, so they exist already? You say that, but then abandon that statement which clearly required a follow-up. They have to be more than just sweet, you know? I am not even aware of a sweet red fleshed variety. Do tell, what is this variety that is so desired, but yet so apparently elusive to the apple breeders of the world? Etter’s stuff isn’t marketable mainstream or even close to it. I’m not so familiar with Hansen, or your own creations, but if you say they exist…where are they? Can they even remotely compete with other mainstream marketable varieties that already exist?

Sadly, Logic says they most definitely do not exist at this time. I could possibly be wrong…if so, please show me where.
I do have every reason to believe they ARE possible, but I (at this time) have ZERO reason to believe they exist now. Again, they have to be so much more than just sweet (as I’m guessing you know). I suspect that marginal quality red fleshed varieties will reach our market shelves long before a truly great one does. So far…crickets.

If you think you have one then patent it and get busy. A red fleshed variety with similar traits as say, Honeycrisp, would set the fruit world afire and would almost certainly make an individual breeder very wealthy.


Red Fleshed apples do need some work which will take time but eventually someone will pick up where Etter left off. That person in 10-50 years will make the crosses needed to improve the apples and likely by accident. If a University picks it up they will plant thousands of controlled seedling crosses until they find that apple. Kieffer was one accidental cross that is still hard to avoid thinking about when someone speaks of pears. That pear variety was needed at the time and even now.


Don’t see where I “abandoned” the statement. Somewhere in that thread someone said something to the effect that red fleshed varieties were tart and unpalatable. I said that was not true and listed varieties that were not.

“Do tell”, an odd way to say something to someone. I think I clearly did when I mentioned three varieties off the top of my head that are sweet.And who said they were elusive to the apple breeders of the world? Have you contacted them and asked them what they are using in their breeding programs? I would venture to say a lot of what drives big conglomerates is being able to trademark and control access to something they develope. None of the ones I mentioned are trademarked.

Sadly, your logic is wrong.

I then mentioned the group that is going to bring red fleshed apples to the mass market and when you go to their web site they act like they are bringing something brand new out which except for mass production they are not.

As far as my varieties we have an apple tasting every year with between 40 to 50 varieties and I always include one of my red flesh seedlings. It is always in the top 3 so I am pretty happy about that. However when people request scions of that variety I do not send it because once you let it out it is gone.

Back to trademark or copyright whatever it is with fruit, years ago when I was first getting into growing fruit I had ordered Pink Pearmain from Greenmantle Nursery. A couple of years later I ordered a variety called Pink Sparkle from Southmeadow, when I unwrapped it there was a tag from Greenmantle down in the roots with Pink Pearmain on it. I let Greenmantle know and they said while that was unethical it was not illegal.

If you have never heard of Dr Nels Hansen then how do you say anything about logic in this statement? Have to know all the facts you can before making statements. He developed Almata, Winter Red Flesh, Hansen’s Red Flesh numbers 1 - 3 and now it is believed Winekist was one of his crosses. Go to Wikipedia and search for Surprise the apple variety, that is one of the best online sources to read about Etter and Hansen. Hansen’s goal was to develop fruit that could grow along the US and Canadian border so he used Niedzweckyana as the basis of most of his crosses.

And why do you say Etter’s stuff is not marketable mainstream? We sell out of Pink Pearl every year and have a family that drives 2 hours every year to get them.

If you mean not marketable mainstream because you cannot pick them before they are ripe and send thousands of bushels to the grocery like the dozen or so varieties that in the grocery who cares?

Derek Mills
Hocking Hills Orchard


The red fleshed apples to mass market is what I’m speaking of. I have Pink Pearl, as does my friend in his orchard…it isn’t very good at all. I definitely would not call it sweet and I don’t really think anyone else would either.

I hope they agreed to refund your money, because to me, that is very unethical. For them to acknowledge it is unethical, but that they were obviously doing it is just crazy.

I did not say I never heard of Hansen, I said I wasn’t so familiar with him or his work. I’ve read a great deal about Etter and current efforts to breed in red flesh. The total absence of market introductions is indicative of the difficulty encountered when trying to include red flesh color to a good tasting apple.

Derek, when you’ve crossed red’s with other apples have the offspring usually included the red flesh color? Does it seem to be a dominant allele? Could you post some photos of the Rubiyat X Golden Russet cross? Don’t get me wrong, I find the subject both interesting and worthwhile, but so far, I haven’t been made aware of any that were worthwhile.
As I said, undoubtedly there will be. Perhaps it may be your very own.

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here is the Rubaiyat x Golden Russet cross


Hi Derek! I only have ten apple trees but two are red fleshed: ‘Scarlet Surprise’ and ‘Arborose’, my pink apple is Mott Pink. The first two have not yet fruited but perhaps this year I get my first blossoms. As for my Mott Pink it (to me) is the best tasting apple in my small orchard of 40 trees. It is sweet, tart, juicy and the color is wonderful. It is the best ‘fresh eating’ apple I grow. They aren’t all bad at all!


Tell us more about the Golden Russet cross. Its beautiful. Golden Russet is one of my favorite.


Yes, I’m very interested in hearing more too. Golden Russet was my gateway apple :slight_smile: I’ve crossed it with grenadine and very much looking forward to see what comes of it. I’m planning to use golden russet more this year. The idea of a red fleshed russet really intrigues me.


When you’re ready to test that gr x rubaiyat cross, I’ll sign the non prop papers. Intriguing!


Can’t wait to grow this apple and will let you know how it does. Gorgeous coloring! Should make a fantastic cider and a well remembered pie. Think I will use it to top work an old variety and I will be able to give you some feedback in a couple of years.

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