A grower's experience of
red-fleshed apples

Growing Redfleshed apples in England: a reply to C.P, Nov 2012

All of the redfleshed apples which I grow seem to have a special quality which makes the tree worth keeping, though the least useful are probably Burford's Redflesh and Webster Pinkmeat. Neither of them are pleasant to eat raw; they are harsh and astringent, particularly the skin. Nevertheless I have decided to keep them. They both have a good crop every year. Burford Redflesh is acidic and dries tolerably well and makes a colourful addition to packages of dried fruit, as does Webster. Webster, surprisingly, cooks well in spite of its lack of acidity and has a strong 'appley' taste; the bitterness disappears on cooking and it breaks down into a salmon-coloured puree. The pigmentation varies from year to year; they can be anything from deep crimson to pale pink. I have been unable to work out what causes this.

Pink Pearmain is nothing like Webster Pinkmeat when grown here. Our summers are not particularly hot, and the apples mature slowly, becoming ready at mid-season; around the beginning of October. They have a beautiful mild flavour; sweet, fairly aromatic without much complexity, and they are amazing for mixed-apple fruit salads, their red colour giving a spectacular appearance when mixed with a good-flavoured white fleshed variety. The apples keep in good condition for about a fortnight and tolerably for about a month.

Scarlet Surprise, Huonville Crab and Almata are extremely similar in appearance; all bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball; about two inches or slightly more in diameter. Scarlet Surprise and Almata ripen in early September and do not keep, so there's no point in having a large tree since most of the fruit will be wasted unless dried or turned into cider or jelly .Huonville crab is ripe in early to mid October, is slightly denser and keeps for about a month. As for flavour, Scarlet Surprise is sweet and the least acidic of the three with good crunchy texture. Almata can be nearly as good as Almata but is slightly more acidic and the texture not quite as crisp. Huonville Crab is the harshest of the three and is quite tart; not really an eating apple. All three have deep crimson colouration throughout the flesh every year. I think Scarlet Surprise is triploid because I have been unable to pollinate other varieties with it (I do a small amount of apple breeding).

Pink Pearl grows well here. The tree is vigorous and tends to dominate other varieties if used as part of a family tree. When the weather is right this produces beautifully-coloured pink to red-fleshed apples which keep for a long time - last year I was eating them into May, the fruit being picked during October and early November. They are quite tart before Christmas but they mature into attractive eating apples around New Year, and like Pink Pearmain are good for mixed-apple fruit salads, the flavour comparing well with other winter storing apples.

Hidden Rose is similarly useful; this ripens at about the same time as Pink Pearl; in mid-October they are fairly tart, but they mature well and some years they store nearly as well as Pink Pearl. They have a curious shape, and one can see the pink flesh through the green skin when the apples are ripe and in bright sunlight. The flavour is aromatic and pleasant.

Breunsdorfer is a medium to large eating apple of spectacular appearance; pink skin and flesh; it almost appears to glow. The flavour is delicate; there are hints of peaches and other fruit. It keeps for about a fortnight in good condition.

Weirouge is a red or pink fleshed German apple, the colour depending on the season. There is a crop every year and there is little acidity. It's quite a good eating apple of unusual appearance and there is a commercial planting in Italy. The acidity when picked is similar to 'Discovery' but the taste is slightly more complex.

Sops in Wine is peculiar. It always has good flavoured, highly scented apples with red skin, but I have never seen the internal crimson colouring shown by apples from the original tree in Suffolk. An anaemic pink - or sometimes white - is all we have had so far.

Mott's Pink is one of my favourite redfleshed apples. It is almost luminous orange-pink in sunshine, with smooth translucent skin; slightly sticky when ripe. It is pleasantly scented but the tree is prone to scab. It is also prone to mites. It does not look like a typical redfleshed tree, it has deep red-coloured crinckled blossom but the leaves and stem have no pigmentation. The pigmentation in Mott's Pink is variable; sometimes it is pale; sometimes it is crimson. The blossom time is early; this is among the first apple trees in the garden to flower. The fruit is ready during the first fortnight in September and keeps for about a week to a fortnight in good condition depending on the weather.

George's Red is variable. At its best it is like a more highly coloured version of Devonshire Quarrenden; slightly larger, and with less butyl ester (the flavour you get with Worcester Pearmain - hints of strawberry) in the flavour. Other years it produces golf-ball sized apples with a pale pink interior, and indifferent flavour. 'Go figure', as they say.

For the first time this year we have had fruit from 'Grenadine' and 'Rubaiyat'. These both have dark internal pigmentation, and Grenadine looks very like a pomegranate. The flavour is similar to Hidden Rose; not particularly complex but it has a dense texture and plenty of apple with hints of other berries. Rubaiyat is small, like a crab apple; smaller than a golf ball, though perhaps the fruit will increase in size when the trees get bigger. The taste is more berry-like and crunchy, with strong aromatic overtones. It isn't very apple-like at all, and is worth growing because it's so unusual. The blossom of Rubaiyat is extremely pretty, and I think that it may be a columnar tree.

That's about it for now. I will be grafting some Laxton's Fortune x Almata seedlings in the spring, and it will be interesting to see how the fruit compares with its parents.

I have trees of Rosette and Baya Marisa and quite a lot of other redfleshed types, but so far I don't know the fruit well enough to write any useful comments.

N.D., England, 25 Nov 2012

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