Favorite apple to eat?


I used to work at an old estate where apple trees were an ornamental fixture lining the very long driveway. If an apple tree died it was replaced with whatever variety the caretaker happened to find at the local nursery.

Amongst the older trees were a few old strain Yellow Delicious and some of the replacement trees were newer strains. The old trees produced richly flavored apples of highest quality and actually did so most years without any spray.

When I put the trees on a spray program the newer varieties of Yellow Delicious started producing smooth skinned fruit that was prettier to the eyes than those old strain apples, but the beauty was entirely lost on the palate. They were bland imitations of the Yellow Delicious variety that originally won apple celebrity. They also ripened over a week sooner.

Apples evolve and devolve as growers and breeders seek different qualities and new sports are selected. The demise of Red Delicious through this process is well documented but I’m sure it has happened to many apples. I actually prefer some of the new strains of Jonagold to the original, so it can probably go either way, but too much attention is paid to cosmetics.

I don’t write this to dismiss the importance of local conditions on the quality of any given variety- I think that is much more often a crucial issue, but I am glad of having the opportunity to taste Yellow Delicious in the form that earned it the name.

What the original Yellow Delicious is, IMO, is a smooth skinned russet apple, which tend to be richly sweet. In the effort to improve it they removed a little too much of that russet quality.

I still manage a few of the older strain trees at sites and am always surprised at how good they can be and how easy they are to grow.


About 10 years ago before I even dreamed of growing my own fruit I was doing field work in the mountains of Randolph County WV. It was late summer/early fall and we were out in the middle of nowhere and came across an old apple tree near an abandoned limestone quarry. We all grabbed an apple from the tree and after one bite we all looked at each other and said it was the best apple we had ever eaten. Looking back I’m certain it was some type of crab apple. The apples were small, the tree was loaded, and the apples were green, firm and had a red blush. We went back to our field vehicle and scoured it for bags, boxes, or anything we could find to hold the apples. We didnt have much but we managed to walk away that day with probably a bushel and a half of those fantastic apples. I would love to taste them again now that I’ve had the chance to taste numerous top rated apples for comparison. I still love Honeycrisp from Soergels orchard in Wexford PA . But those crabs would’ve been pretty high up my list. Now that I’ve successfully grafted apples I’d love the take a trip down into the mountains and grab some scion wood next spring. Although I’m not sure I could find that particular tree. haha


Great story Speedster! If you ever find that tree share some scion wood with friends. It could wind up like the many other delicious apples that have been lost to the years because they were not big enough , pretty enough etc.


Any spigold fans out there?


Fuji, Jonagold, and most of all Suncrisp!

The thing to do is only pick what you need for the next couple days and leave the others on the tree to keep getting better. There is a big window of ripeness. I like jonagold better early in the ripening window, Fuji and Suncrisp later.

Suncrisp has a tropical flavor and strong enough that it would be weird in an apple pie. But awesome to eat and would be awesome sauce,


My absolute favorites are Golden Russet and Goldrush. Both are strongly flavored with lots of sugar. I’ve been growing Goldrush for a few years now (first one was planted in 2011) and it seems pretty productive for me. My Golden Russet is now in year #3 and looks to have a small crop (my Goldrushs had a small crop in year 2 and a bigger one in year 3).

SweeTango has also been very good, but as others have noted it will be a while before we can grow that.

Of earlier apples I am growing, I really like Sweet Sixteen and Kidds Orange Red. From farmer’s markets, Jonathan is one of my favorites, along with Jonagold, Zestar, and Honeycrisp.

I think Golden Delicious varies quite a bit based on how it is grown. I’ve have absolutely incredible ones and blah ones, even as part of the same batch. The best once had a good amount of blush on them, so I suspect that good sun exposure is important.

Jonagold can be very good, though I don’t find it that close to Honeycrisp. Most of the time JG has a much stronger flavor.

Of those I haven’t grown and have just sampled once, both Crimson Topaz and Florina Querina (both scab resistant) were very good.


If you plan to get some wood you should go back before Fall to locate the tree. If you find it, tie a bit of ribbon in the tree so you can relocate it when dormant and all the leaves are down. Snatch a piece for me too!


FWIW, Winesap is a real winner here too and for a long time was my favorite apple. I would expect anyone insulting Winesap probably doesn’t know much about it, or apples in general. I know there are at least three different versions of it and likely more.


I can see someone not liking Winesaps. They have a have a fairly sharp taste and color up before they are really ripe, so a lot you see for sale are not all that sweet. Staymens can be good, but the best ones I’ve had were Winesaps (not sure which type it was) from a old orchard in SE NY. They were completely dark red, explosively crunchy (a couple cracked on their own) and had very good flavor with decent sweetness. .


I know Alan will mention that Golden Russet gets attached by wasps and insects. This being the first year my own tree has them, I can say he is right about that. I’m already seeing damage now, 3 months before they are ripe.
I’ve got a few bagged, so hopefully I can protect those. I’m not sure how the larger orchards handle it- I’ve picked them at Averil Farms in upstate CT and didn’t see any wasp damage.


Golden russet followed by rubinette, black Oxford, chestnut crab and ash meads kernel


Would you be able and willing to share some scions from those older, better Yellow Delicious?


You’ve got my attention! Golden Russet is one my favorite and Rubinette won the family taste test from a dozen or so varieties of home grown apples at my old place. That makes me more excited to try Black Oxford and Chestnut crab.

I’m dying to try one of these fabled Goldrush apples. The ones I’ve seen near Portland Oregon for sale have been picked green. I’ve also yet to have an Ashmead’s Kernal that wasn’t a lot more sour than sweet. Is that how they are supposed to be.

I have to admit I’m prejudiced against Chestnut crab because I think chestnuts are awful, and even if they weren’t, I wouldn’t want an apple to be like one. Do you know how it got its name? I hope not for the flavor or texture.


I sent out quite a bit of wood last year to people who sent me self addressed, stamped envelopes and wrote me the weight they wanted and the diameter of scions. I will do this until it begins taking too much of my limited spring time.

I got some wood this year of a completely russetted yellow delicious which I’m staring to grow in my orchard and on a few trees in my nursery. The man who found this at an estate he works (he used to work for me then started his own business) has observed this one growing perfect unsprayed fruit of the highest quality. I won’t have any sticks of this one next year, but by the following there should be a surplus. I do have more typical high quality YD I manage that I can get some wood from though.


Thank you Alan, it is generous of you and I know especially since I know this stuff isn’t just a hobby for you. I’d love to try both of those.

I have access to a broad selection of material if you ever want me to look for something, let me know.

I’ve been curious to try Colvis Spice and lately Razor Russet, which are also russetted sports. The Colvis Spice at the Home Orchard Society tastings haven’t been great, but for practical reasons many of the samples aren’t at the best for the tastings.


Appleseed70 I agree the stayman Winesap from Kansas actually rates 4.5 on a 5 scale because they are very delicious according to not just us but all users who rated it on orangepippin. The original Winesap is a bit more tart apparently so this may be why some people have such differring reports. They are a remarkable apple. http://www.orangepippin.com/apples/staymans-winesap


Stayman beats Winesap in my opinion by a wide margin. Goldrush is very good after several months in storage and so is Pippin, I can not understand all the interest Granny Smith. Pink Lady is an interesting name but the apple does not excite me.


I’m with you 50/50 BBT. I do love Granny but Pink Lady texture just leaves me cold. Something about the skin.


Razor russet?


Who knows- yellow delicious seems to want to devolve to a russet so there may be many similar sports. I’ve been at a farmers market where a man sold such fruit from his trees and called it his own private strain.

Scott is growing one that precisely fits my description as well.