Will the real (American) Golden Russet please stand up?

Here in S Wisconsin, a number of orchards have an annoying habit of selling apples including the variety “Russets.”

I’ve also gotten a few apples that seemed very wrong in color and/or season for the listed cultivar, not improving my faith in the system.

So when I bought a bag of Golden Russets, I was excited but somewhat dubious. And on opening the bag, there are 2 apples which at least by stem phenotype look pretty different: one has a stem almost as short and thick as Macoun and one has a long, thin stem like on Delicious apples. Plus neither are anywhere close to fully russeted.

Thoughts on which, if either, is American Golden Russet? Is the other English? Roxbury? Entirely unknown?

btw my daughter picked apples, with no regard for variety or ripeness…the cool stripey one is a completely unknown apple (to me) just marked up pretty uniquely; I added it to the photo just for fun

The two on the leff MIGHT be Roxbury due to their squat appearance.

Zingy flavor? Course texture?

I had Roxbury another place, and they reminded me of it due to their very partial russet. At the same time, regarding both taste and look, from mid-august until mid-October almost every week had at least 3 days of rain, so it has probably been a very off year.

I WANT to say my impression of Roxbury a month back was somewhat tarter, a bit of “starchy” to the taste, and similar in texture. But the sweeter and less starchy could be a function of age, could it not?

The apples pictured both strike me as sweet, with a bit of acidity to match and a dense flesh very similar to Roxbury (and, I assume, typical of russets). They are sort of like a Golden Delicious or Honeycrisp with character, if that makes sense–sweet and mild, but there’s a good shot of acid somewhere in there to make the sweet taste like something, besides watery syrup.

I may just have to wait for my own trees, but since they were grafted this year, I may want to grab a chair and get comfy…these are admittedly tasty, I just wanted them to “taste a golden russet” and I am not sure if I did or not at this point.

To my original question, would you even expect a AGR (or Roxbury, for that matter) to have so much difference in stem morphology?

I don’t know. Here is a Rox Russet I’m literally eating right now. I only have a few left. Smallish slender stems on them.


Is the rox still very tart, or predominantly a sweet apple? In my naive “apple-virgin” mouth I initially labelled Roxbury as “what Granny Smith wished is could be” and these “Golden Russet” uncertainties as the same general thing but for Golden Delicious and/or Honeycrisp…they ARE very sweet, and whatever they are, I really like them, just noticed the stems and relatively incomplete russeting adn it made me wonder what they really are…

…ironically, I have grafts from spring of Roxbury and American Golden Russet (as well as English GR, Pomme Gris, St. Edmunds Russet, Ashmead’s, and Egremont Russet) so in five years, this wouldn’t even be a question…but for now…

*scratches head

English Golden Russet wins my beauty contest. They twinkle a mettalic glow in the summer sunshine and develop a ruddy orange blush by harvest- see my other post:

But Rox wins my heart for flavor. I can’t believe how good they taste.

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like I said, I wish I could identify, but this has also been such a weird wet year I’m not sure anything I got would help much anyway…

I found the Roxbury here (from ONE orchard, ONE weird wet year, and only picked at ONE time) to be somewhat uninspiring–good, but again sort of a 'roided-out granny smith with some potato starch. Not sure that’s at all fair to the apple globally, or even most years here in WI

By the way, I feel I should probably mention all my russets except Ashmead’s came from scionwood given or traded to me here on this site.

As a shoutout to the generosity of the folks on this site, here’s what I am sure is an incomplete list of the scions I have been given in trade or outright from members of this site–if anyone sees this browsing who isn’t a member, here is a good 50 reasons to join:

Arkansas Black
Chestnut Crab
St. Edmunds Russet
Egremont Russet
American Golden Russet
English Golden Russet
toStayman Winesap
Wickson Crab
Black Oxford
Pomme Gris
Blue Pearmain
Yellow Transparent
Roxbury Russet

Pears, Euro and Asian:
Harrow Sweet

Mirabelle de Metz
Black Ice


Fire Crystal
Nikitas Gift

all plus Black Velvet gooseberry, a few elderberries, and a handful of grape cuttings (and whatever I forgot to mention from my hotel in TX)…I can’t over-stress the generosity here on this site.


My two cents worth on the topic. The (American) Golden Russets we grow have golden yellow skin overlaid with russet. Roxbury Russet has green skin overlaid with russet and generally are little smaller than Golden’s. Put them together and the difference is quite noticeable in size, color and taste.

If I grew them I would say the two apples on the left in the picture above were Roxbury but who knows? Location can make a difference.

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We picked up some Rox at the orchard last week. The trees were pretty well picked over and we didn’t get the best of specimens. We actually had to make an apple crisp out of them as they were starting to go bad a bit. They looked like the one Matt pictured.

Regarding the flavor, they kinda tasted like a Golden Russet, almost citrus-y and sweet. But the texture was borderline mealy, not bad, but not an attribute I care for. Maybe the fruit were past their prime and not good examples.

The texture of the GR, in contrast was very crisp, and bit brighter in its flavors. I think of all the apple varieties we tried, the GR was prob a top 5 for me. We are growing both Russet’s in our little “orchard”.

Do you guys find the texture of a Rox to be somewhat softer than most apples?

Rox has a strange texture that I actually like. It is the only apple that is a little soft (elastic?) that I still really like even for eating out-of-hand. A good specimen has tremendous flavor which compensates for the unusual texture.

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hah…see, that’s my problem–I am left wondering if their Golden Russet aren’t just either an unknown russet, or even Roxbury brought back out to sell at a premium as a “new, fresh in-season apple” a month later…

you’d think I’d be more trusting, but they had something, I want to say Newton’s, in mid-Sept. that were Mac-colored and roughly oblate, and the apple was supposed to be almost all green,things like that make a boy kinda suspicious

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Roxbury can often be lopsided or oval in shape looking from the top, and somewhat squat overall. Comparing it’s flavor to Golden Russet, I would say that it is more acidic.

The trouble is that the apple-buying public thinks that “russet” is a kind of apple, just as they think that “pippin” is a kind of apple. So apparently some growers take advantage of that.