Why the most horrible apple in the world is also the most grown

Discuss

126 Responses to “Why the most horrible apple in the world is also the most grown”

  1. shutz says:

    My father keeps talking about an apple tree that grew in the field behind his childhood home that bore apples the size of large grapefruits (or small cantaloups).  He says it was called a “St-Alexandre”.

    He hasn’t seen apples like that since.  If such a thing still exists, I kind of wish I could find one such tree for him, so he could plant and grow it in his backyard.

  2. xzzy says:

    Too mushy and bland. I like my apples nice and crisp, where when you dig your teeth into them they come off in huge pieces. Granny smiths are the best type of this apple you’ll find in a store, but if you make a point to visit local orchards in the fall you can usually find half a dozen breeds that fit the bill. 

    Generally means I eat myself sick on apples in/around October.

    • Neowolf says:

       I like my apples mushy, but with more flavor.  Rome is my favorite store variety.

    • crenquis says:

      We had an apple “orchard” behind the house where I grew up…   Most of the trees were naturally-crossed descendents of the trees that were planted by the original owners (probably 60-70 yrs before).  I always loved the firm tart ones and would typically eat myself sick when autumn came around.  
      My wife loves red “delicious”, but she is a Los Angeles city girl who doesn’t know any better…

    • Same here – mealy, mushy apples are hateful.  Granny Smiths are excellent, but I’m usually happy to eat anything but a Red Delicious.

    • Preston Sturges says:

      A tree ripened Granny Smith is wonderful mixture of sweetness and acidity.

    • blueelm says:

      Hmmm… I like mine very firm and crisp, but not too tart unless they’re being cooked or processed in some way. I guess this is why there are so many varieties. 

      Let’s not get started on grapes even. I just found out about the Muscat grape. A lifetime of grape-hating has just come to an end. It’s a new world… a world where I eat grapes.

  3. knoxblox says:

    Red delicious are exactly the taste that springs to my taste buds whenever I hear the word “mealy”.

    Give me a hard, crisp, tart apple any day. The kind that makes one eyelid involuntarily flutter when you bite into it.

  4. Bersl says:

    Braeburn is best apple.

  5. You are all wrong. The best apple is honeycrisp. 

    • welcomeabored says:

      And a few contenders… the Pink Lady is nice, and the Pinata.  When I bite into one, I feel like I just picked it off the tree in our old orchard. 

      • Mark Neumayer says:

         Pink Lady is an awesome apple! I have had them fresh from the tree at an orchard here in NC.

        Michael Pollan did a fascinating explainer on apples in The Botany of Desire. It blew me away that apples do not grow true. (The seeds from an apple will grow a tree that produces a different mutation of that apple.)

        • welcomeabored says:

          I’ve read all of Pollan’s books, and just picked up his latest, ‘Cooked’.  I grew up in a state where I thought I knew something about apples just for having lived there, as if by cider-scented osmosis.  When I read ‘Botany’, I found I knew nothing, and what there was to know was even more interesting than I could have imagined. 

      • meg gandy says:

        i love pink lady. there’s another i tried recently called alice that was good too.

    •  I just discovered the honycrisp, and your statement is correct.

    • ashypete says:

       Honeycrisp is awesome but try Red Prince. Awesome.

      • welcomeabored says:

        Where are you buying Red Prince?  I saw a few varieties of apples I’d never heard of in large bins, in December while visiting the Farmer’s Market in Olympia, Wa, but didn’t get the chance to investigate them.

    • jackbird says:

      Last fall at a pick-your-own place the family went to, the grizzled farmer driving the tractor you ride to get to the apples loudly and not very coherently decried Honeycrisp as “yuppie apples” for city folk.  

      I wish I had had the presence of mind to get him to repeat his complaint when the motor wasn’t drowning him out – did his reasons have to do with the technical side of fructiculture? the economics of obtaining the grafts?  Some sort of apple snobbery about the taste? (But how could you fail to enjoy a Honeycrisp?) Or was he just putting us on?

    • vrplumber says:

      This comment thread is killing me, I can’t wait till harvest time. Apples are going to get murdered.

    • Gilbert Wham says:

       Russets and Cox’s Pippins (especially if you’re in Somerset in autumn). Your argument is invalid.

  6. Dean Jones says:

    Braeburn? Honeycrisp? What is wrong with you people? Cox’s Orange Pippin is the one true apple. AND NOTHING ELSE.

  7. Anony Mous says:

    Red delicious are baffling. Trying to figure out which ones are truly crisp or which ones were mealy were a crapshoot. I gave up figuring they were just bred that way. Didn’t start eating apples again until I was given Gala apple. After I grew tired of those Fuji’s were the best. Then I got tired of those too. I didn’t get back into apples until I happened upon the Honey Crisp. Those are so bomb. Crisp, tart, with a hint of “honey” sweetness. I don’t see them everywhere like the Reds, but here in SoCal the Targets with the grocery have them.

    • bcsizemo says:

      I’m reading these and I don’t get it.  A mealy red delicious…the only mealy ones I’ve ever had have been on the verge of going bad.  I love red delicious because, one I don’t like tart apples, and two they are crisp and hard.  I always thump my apples, if it sounds hollow or almost rings then it should be a crisp apple.  Same idea as thumping a watermelon…(of course city people look at your weird when you start doing things like that….but I guess that’s why people are eating mealy apples.)

      And besides the red d. my wife likes them tart, so I’ve found a nice balance with the Pink Lady.  Sweet like a red d, but with a mild sharpness to it.

      •  I’m from a small town surrounded by apple orchards. I have never had a Red Delicious that wasn’t like wet cardboard. MacIntosh, Tolman Sweet (which I haven’t seen in years) or Mutsu apples are uniformly awesome though.

    • welcomeabored says:

      Honeycrisp is a cross between a Macoun and a Honeygold.

    • blueelm says:

      Mmmm… now honeycrisp I can get here. I’m fond of any mild apple that is not too tart but not mealy. I like the tart ones though if I’m eating them with cheese of some kind, or cooking with them.

      Sadly my aversion to mealy textures makes me unable to enjoy pears the way I know I would if they were just more firm. As it stands, well cooked or in a smoothie are the only pear options I can tolerate. Otherwise it’s like asking me to eat sand.

  8. Angela Meyerhoff says:

    I was born and raised in Washington state… Red Delicious were pretty much the only apples we were ever given as kids, with the occasional Granny Smith. I didn’t even really realize how bad they were compared to other apples available until I got to college and started buying my own food.

    While they’re probably the worst apples for eating in actual fruit form, they are pretty good for making apple sauce and apple butter at home. Not the best, but good. Also, if you are going to eat them out of hand, go for them in the autumn months when they’re actually in season. They’ll be more “soft” and less “mushy/mealy” than the ones you’re more likely to find in the spring and summer.

  9. ldobe says:

    I love me some Honeycrisps, and Fujis.  I find red delicious intolerably gross.  The skin is extremely bitter (not tart, but bitter), the flesh has the consistency of waterlogged particleboard, and the flavor is so bland the terrible bitter skin overpowers any pleasant flavor the apple flesh might have.

    The only thing red delicious is good for is still life paintings and decorative fruit displays.

    • blueelm says:

      I wonder if at some point the extra thick skin wasn’t purposely bred to make nationwide distribution easier, to the detriment of the taste of the fruit. They are the only apple I have ever had that has quite such a thick bitter skin.

  10. Casual_Economy says:

    Pink Lady and Gala are both good. Rome are okay. Never really see a whole lot of organic Red Delicious at my corner store in SF, I only eat organic apples, don’t wanna eat that pesticide skin.

    • FoolishOwl says:

      I’ve noticed an element in a lot of online rants about privileged naval-gazing white people is the insistence on organic foods. From what I can tell, organic produce doesn’t cost much more than non-organic produce in the SF Bay Area, but in other parts of the country, organic produce is much more expensive and harder to find.

      • Casual_Economy says:

         That’s a shame. I’m glad they’re cheap here. I’m no organic cultist, but hell I’ll shell out a bit more for produce that claims it doesn’t use pesticides. Why not?

        • FoolishOwl says:

          It makes a difference if most of the fruit on display is organic, and only costs a few cents more than non-organic, as opposed to there being only a small selection of organic fruits, which cost two or three times as much as the non-organic fruit.

          Also, there’s the increasingly notorious problem of food deserts in urban areas.

          One major chain grocery in my neighbourhood handled organics rather differently from the others — while prices were in line with prices in other neighbourhood stores, they had a smaller selection of organics, and most of the organic fruit was visibly rotten. I don’t know why the health inspectors allowed it.

          I grew up in the Central Valley, about an hour’s drive from San Francisco, but with a far different political climate. A fair number of my classmates had families in agribusiness, and they would compete with each other in ranting about the evils of organic farming.

      • Dlo Burns says:

        When I was living in Vegas organic stuff could easily be 3 times the price, and worst of all: old and mushy.

      • blueelm says:

        Yep, it all depends on where you are. Right now, there’s plenty of money and demand to sustain lots of organic fruit at lower prices. If I go say 100 or 200 miles out… any apple I find *will* be a Red Delicious, mealy, a bit old, probably from a Walmart, and not organic.

        UNLESS… I happen to hit somewhere with a farmers market and some one happens to grow apples. This is not unheard of. But it’s certainly not the easy, trot down the street, experience… and I have *no* way of knowing if they are organic no matter how nice the lady in the prairie dress and white cap seems.

  11. Shay Guy says:

    I’ve always liked Galas, but I’ll take a Fuji or Braeburn any day.

  12. Midnight_Wanderer says:

    In the movie Brazil (Terry Gilliam), at a restaurant they were served beige piles of mush with a pleasing picture perched on top. You eat the mush while being propagandized by the pleasing picture. Look how wonderful and tasty this food is (pointing at the picture).

    The Red Delicious apple is an example of this. It’s food for schizos.

  13. noah django says:

    so it’s not just me.  red “delicious” taste like paste.  my go-to is gala.  if those are out, there’s almost always fujis.  there’s maybe five varieties available in those big plastic mesh bags, which is how I buy since I eat them every day.  fully half those bags are red delicious.  my feeling is this is a great example of how advertising works.  RDs look the prettiest, the most uniformly ruby red colored, comparatively large; the most stereotypically “apple-like.”  and it says they’re “delicious” right on the label.  i don’t think people bother to try anything else to realize how bad RDs suck.

  14. I remember back in the 80′s the first time I tried a Fuji apple, when they had to be imported from Japan.  What an eye opener!

  15. GregS says:

    Red Delicious apples are wretched. For a long time I didn’t think I liked apples at all because of them. I always figured their name was invented by a marketing guy because they weren’t selling under the more accurate name of Red Disgustings.    

  16. Boundegar says:

    Last year I discovered Pink Lady apples which, despite the name, are truly masculine apples.  Sadly, as soon as I decided to like them, they vanished from every grocery in town.  How do they do that?

    • welcomeabored says:

      There was a variety of apple that showed up in Whole Foods this year (name forgotten) for about a month and then it was gone.  I was as excited about it as the first time I bit into a Honeycrisp.  When I asked the produce guy about it, he said it was a small, and possibly short-shelved crop.  Maybe it will be back next year. 

      We’ve had Pink Ladys in for months though.  Your grocery store’s distributor, maybe?

  17. TheMadLibrarian says:

    I love Macintoshes as well, but the ones we get out West may as well be some generic variety — the smell, taste, texture are all off.  We get better apples from New Zealand.

  18. Buddha Buck says:

    I live in the middle of upstate New York.  Fresh McIntosh apples are common — as are Cortland, JonaGold, Honeycrisp, Empire, Fuji, Gala, and lots of other varieties.  New England is definitely not the only place to get fresh McIntosh apples.

  19. welcomeabored says:

    I was born in ’57 and raised in Washington state.  Trust me on this one.  The apple called ‘Red Delicious’ today is fruit from a pale graft of its former flavor and texture.  I feel like you’re being cheated, even if you don’t.

    • peregrinus says:

       With you – I remember Red Delicious in Massachusets as a kid.  Awesome apple, my control.

    • Same here; born in B.C. in ’55.  When I was a scout we sold them door to door for a nickle each.

    • folkclarinet says:

      I grew up in Ohio a mile away from an apple orchard. Their Red Delicious were awesomely yummy. This was even in the 70s. The supermarket ones I don’t remember so much but by the 80s the orchard wasn’t growing them any more and the supermarket ones had descended to blech.

    • SeamusAndrewMurphy . says:

      I absolutely loved Red Delicious apples when I was a kid, in the early seventies.  They were crisp, sweet, and awesome.  As an adult I stopped buying them, wondering what happened to them.  I assume, in the late seventies, they were bred for shipping and storage and not for flavor, and succeeding at that, we get the shapely marzipan that is called Red Delicious today…. won’t buy ‘em.

    • James Penrose says:

       I would agree. when i was a kid in the 50′s, Red delicious was my favorite and unless it’s just nostalgia, they did taste significantly better than they do now.

      As did a number of other things I enjoyed as a kid.  I suspect generations of breeding for durability rather than flavor have had their impact on tomatoes, apples, bananas and a bunch (sorry) of other fruit.

  20. bcsizemo says:

    The only thing more blasphemous than saying a Red D is horrible is the fact my father peels them and throws the skin away.

    -Seeing others mention the skin taste makes me wonder if it’s like the whole cilantro thing, I absolutely love the skin.

    • Anony Mous says:

       Where do you live? I seriously haven’t had Red D’s since the 90s and I grew up in Houston. I wasn’t a big fruit or veggie eater as a kid. So those Reds were the most recognizable as a normal proper apple. But they were consistently mealy and the skin was always thick, tough and bitter. In hindsight I wonder if the grocery just didn’t turn those around fast enough and the apples stuck around longer than they should. I might be willing to give it another chance. I have truly avoided them like the plague.

      • bcsizemo says:

        North Carolina.  In the fall there are plenty of orchards that have lots of varieties, but I’ve always gone back to the Red D.  Most of the grocery stores around me (even the big brand name ones) have a pretty good selection of fresh apples, ie. the Delicious actually have a good crisp crunch when you bite into them.  Now I will say if you buy them in the economy 3 or 5 pound bag some of them will be a bit mealy just because they are older.  I usually end up with one of the crisp varieties since my wife and I both will eat them (and thus can eat a 3 pound bag before it gets soft.)  If I buy a Red D. now a days it’s usually one at a time.

        • blueelm says:

          Interesting, like Anony Mous up there I’m in Texas and Red D are almost always mealy, vile, flavorless and with a thick bitter skin that seems suspiciously waxed. I don’t like to peel my fruit (I’ll even eat some citrus peel now and then), so I tend to soak it instead. That’s how my grandmother cleaned her fruit (and her meats as well) and it seems to work for me, washing off pesticides that are external, bugs, bacteria, dirt, mold. 

          I can’t imagine peeling a red d though because even though all that I have had here are mealy nasty ordeals, the bitter waxy peel at least has some flavor and texture to offer. 

          It does make me wonder though if the name isn’t applied to many varieties, and depending on location you may have a totally different apple in your hands with the same name applied.

    • DonBoy2 says:

       I don’t know about the skin, but yes, I’m getting the impression that there are people who experience the Red Delicious through some very different neural pathways than I do.

    • ocschwar says:

      Before  FDR and his damn liberal agenda, we didn’t have clean water, and so washing fruits and vegetables was pointless. You HAD to peel them if you didn’t want to be constantly battling the local bacteria.  Some people’s habits are a relic of that era.

      • bcsizemo says:

        *squints eyes* we didn’t have clean water

        Just to point this out, I grew up on well water and a septic tank in what would be considered a rural suburb.  Both of my parents grew up on farms in the rural South (born in the 40s), both on well water and septic systems.  And you can follow that back as far as you’d like, but I’m pretty sure everyone that my parents and grandparents knew had access to clean drinking water.

        And my father doesn’t peel it because of some habit, it’s because he doesn’t like the taste of the skin.  It’s really only on the Red D., he will eat other apples with the skin on.

        • blueelm says:

          Yeah this is funny. The old folks in my family used to pity the city folks *because* they didn’t have good well water and fresh water to drink and had to depend on contaminated city water that might make you sick.

          My grandmother swore for *years* that drinking poison water in Baltimore was what made her get nail fungus. From their perspective well water had been filtered through the sky, through sediment, etc. But the water coming out of the city plants was the water everyone in the city flushed down the toilet last week.

          Now I see a similar sentiment in the hippie new age lot… I saw my first bottle of RO rainwater the other day and I thought… wait? On purpose? And for 3 dollars? 

  21. Buddha Buck says:

    This Boing-Boing story is misleading.  The linked-to Mother Jones article is good, but it’s about a guy who’s passion is finding and revitalizing lost apple varieties, not about why few varieties are available commercially.  Not once in the story are Red Delicious mentioned (there is one graphic which shows Red Delicious as the variety most produced).

    I’ll note that the Wikipedia article about the Red Delicious apple lists 42 patented mutations from it and alludes to numerous unpatented mutations and variants, most of which are probably still sold as “Red Delicious” (Cornell Orchards lists the source of their Red Delicious as a 1972 chance seedling in Iowa, for instance, not the original late 1880′s “Hawkeye” apple from Peru Iowa).  This may explain why some on this list are saying Red Delicious apples suck, and some say they are their favorite.  They might not be talking about the same Red Delicious.

    And if you think Red Delicious apples are bad, try some varieties of apples which are cultivated for the cider market: sour, misshapen, ugly things.  No good for eating.  But the yeast don’t care about that, and they make great cider.

    • Jim Nelson says:

      Yep – crabapples are actually a great addition to storebought apples to make a great cheap cider.

    • Preston Sturges says:

      There were apples specifically for cider and for “canning” as apple butter and apple sauce.  And you see the antique copper kettle and the wooden paddles used to stir the fruit.

      Hard cider used to be more common than beer because it’s easier to ferment juice than malted grain.

    • bcsizemo says:

      My grandfather had a couple of crabapple trees, or at least that’s what my dad called them.  What a lot of people don’t realize is the effort needed to get fruit tree to produce good consistent fruit.  My dad could recall as a child that the apples were good, but skip ahead 40+ years with no one looking after it for twenty of that, and you end up with mealy deformed worm infested pieces of rotting fruit.

  22. cavalrysword says:

    Everybody’s taste buds are different.  Everyone should eat what they like.  Telling other people what to eat is a bit, well, let’s just say it isn’t something I would do.

    Two days ago I had a Cameo apple.  I was disappointed that there was no portrait engraved in it.

    • L_Mariachi says:

      Look, up in the sky. You might see the point passing way overhead.

      Nobody is dictating that anyone else’s opinon perfectly match their own. Nobody is denigrating your taste (except humorously.)  The ultimate gist of this post, as I read it, is that “the apple you have been sold as the Platonian ideal of an apple is not all that great (and here’s why.) If you go out of your way to try other types of apples like I did you might discover something wonderful in a realm you’d always thought mundane and one-dimensional.”

      And this is coming from more of a pear fan. Apples are like a jolly loud uncle sneaking you beers at a family reunion, which is fine for what it is, but pears are private and ethereal. GO TEAM PEARS

  23. Sekino says:

    My very favourite apple is the Paula Red. Unfortunately it seems to be in season about 10 minutes out of the year in my area, so it’s always a mad frenzy to eat as many as I can while it lasts.  Fortunately McIntosh are my second favourite and they’re available most of the time.

    Both are among  the very few apple that doesn’t make my throat itch and lips blister.

  24. Hey BB – for the fairly common varieties, what’s the best for drying?  In your various opinions, of course.

  25. Mister44 says:

    Red delicious are just horrible. Why do people buy them when gala, honeycrisp, breaburn, and fiji apples exist? Hell give me an ol’ granny smith next to a horrible red delicious.

  26. Rob Knop says:

     Yeah, me too.  I read the blurb, and suddenly realized that there must be something wrong with me because I explicitly seek out Red Delicious.

    This makes me wonder how “universally” reviled this particular apple really is….  Sure, in the opinion of the writers it is, but is it universal?  It’s easy to say that “everybody who thinks anything agrees with me”….

  27. ashypete says:

     No love for the Russet? Shame on you.

    • retchdog says:

      My first golden russet was a revelation. Love ‘em.

    • teknocholer says:

       Plenty of love here. My wife’s uncle grew Russets on his farm on the Niagara Peninsula, so I had a source until he retired. They have a unique flavour that to me is reminiscent of a Bosc pear. They are still available from time to time here in Toronto, but not consistently.

  28. Antinous / Moderator says:

    I also grew up with Macintosh, that we bought in bushel baskets at the orchard.  The first time that somebody gave a Delicious, I bit into it and thought, “Is this a joke?  Like when you gave me the plaster of Paris candy?”

    • blueelm says:

      I hated apples because Red D were the norm. It wasn’t until some one offered me a different apple that I realized they were actually good!

  29. Timmo Warner says:

    I like Red Delicious apples! I HAVE had the odd one that was weirdly mushy now and then, but I associate them with being crisp and pleasant tasting. I like other varieties of apples too but don’t understand the hate for Red D.

    • noah django says:

      yeah, wondering this too, now that some mutants have weighed in positively.  maybe it has to do with freshness?  I live in the South-East US, far from the apple-producing regions.  maybe you live closer to MI or WA (or your nation’s analogue)?

  30. Roger T says:

    Having grown up in Oregon where my grandfather was a complete apple nut I can tell you, there is no better apple than the King.  We had McIntosh, Gravenstein, Transparent, Snow, King and several others, but nothing is even close to the King when it comes to just eating raw.  My grandfather loved grafting apple trees and he actually had a single tree that grew three varieties of apple, and one variety of pear (which I would have thought was impossible if I hadn’t seen it).  The King apple will actually ferment slightly while still on the tree.  It will still be fresh, crunchy and sweet while having a slight hint of fermentation, dang, wish I could have one right now!

    • welcomeabored says:

      That’s quite a variety.  Did you turn any into cider?

      We had an orchard out front of a farmhouse (western WA state) we owned for a while, that had three large apple trees that produced large crops every other year, and smaller crops in between.  We got togther with a family up the road who had a press and we threw in whatever we had at the time and what was donated, and had a BBQ.  The mix included Transparents and Gravensteins; the rest we couldn’t identify.  The cider was incredible and I’ve haven’t any as good since.  Most ciders are too sweet.  That cider had a lip-smacking tartness on the back end that was simply wonderful.

      • Roger T says:

        The article is getting stale, so you may never come back to read my reply, but yes, we frequently made both cider and applesauce.  We usually made both of these from either Gravensteins or Kings.  Both were excellent for this.  Note that my parents were quite religious, so there was no hard cider for us.  Still, the lightly fermented cider was awesome.

  31. HarveyBoing says:

    More than 50,000 bushels of the vile things are turned out every year

    Actually, it’s more than 50,000,000 bushels. The graph in the article shows 1000′s of bushels.

  32. Preston Sturges says:

    We get Arkansas Black apples which we pick after the first frosts and let sit for 1 to 3 months. The flavor is unbelievably rich and complex.

    • blueelm says:

      Now those I can find here. Gosh… many many years ago my parents almost moved out to Elgin (back when that meant moving way out there) and bought this dilapidated multistory farmhouse that had not been changed since the early 20′s (including antique plumbing and extremely limited and unsafe electricity :/ ). Part of me is glad, because being in the house (The elderly couple who had lived there simply boarded each floor up as they got too old to move up each flight of stairs) felt like living in a real horror film. Part of me is sad because of the beautiful apple trees they grew in the back (and the fact that it felt like living in  a real horror film.) I don’t think I ever would have gotten tired of feeling like I was on the verge of actually becoming a work of gothic fiction.

      I wonder what kind of apples they were though. 

  33. A C says:

    This is why I come here- this article opened an entirely new world of food to me! I had a cameo a few months ago, here in OK, but I’m from PA, and late 20′s. I always wondered why the hell people even ate apples- until I had a honeycrisp. My eyes nearly popped out of my head it was so good!

    That was the first time it occured to me that apples might lurk elsewhere from what I had seen. I HATE RED DELICIOUS! I finally get that everyone else does too! I wondered why such vile things were eaten, who the hell buys them? Occasionally I had had a good one, but I always figured they were supposed to taste horrible.

    Maggie is right- honeycrisp. It is incredible. But I never in my wildest dreams knew there was an entire lost culture of this fruit in thousands of unique varieties that no one knows exist anymore- I’m incredibly excited now! I grow orchids, and love rare plants. I never knew…

    Why do we constantly forget and kill our incredible heritage? I cannot wait to find rare new apples to eat and enjoy, an entirely new palate of flavor awaits! I cannot imagine what else the world forgot about long before even us…

  34. orangedesperado says:

    A couple of falls ago I took a weekend trip in southern Ontario. We spent a lot of time driving on the smaller roads and passed by many former farms. Many of the apple trees we passed were ripe and the fruit was just starting to fall off the trees. We made a game of stopping at every apple tree we came across, to taste the apples. There were an astonishing variety of unidentifiable apples – from horrible bitter dry crabapples to a very ugly largish pink/golden apple that was perfect – crisp, sweet, juicy, a little tart. I imagine many of the trees had been planted when the land was settled (uh, well, invaded, stolen and sold) in the 1860′s and 70′s. Most of the former houses had crumbled, but the trees were still bearing mysterious fruit. I think we only came across a couple of similar trees at different locations – there was a huge range. I speculated that the wide variety were planted with intention – some were good for baking or canning, some for drying, some stored well for a long time, and some were just unhappy disappointments. The bad apples were really horrid – like mouth-dryingly astringent.

    • Preston Sturges says:

       The dry hard  apples were probably ones that needed to age a couple months.

      I found one of those trees in the woods way up on a mountain.  There was the rubble remains of a springhouse and tree loaded with yellow apples where a bear had sharpened his claws.  Nothing else remained except an 1800s cemetery down the road.

      The other remnant we used to find was patches of daffodils in the woods, and maybe a stone  doorstep.

  35. blueelm says:

    Thanks BoingBoing… after reading the comments here I now feel that I will die unless I can eat apples I never even heard of until today.

  36. blueelm says:

    Well… try other things because it’s fun to challenge yourself. But, who knows, Red D may be your favorite apple despite what anyone else thinks :/

  37. Daneel says:

    I don’t think I ever had a Red Delicious before moving to WA, and I concur they’re awful. I gather they aren’t closely related to the Golden Delicious, which in the UK is similarly ubiquitous and similarly mushy and unpleasant.

    Due to lack of choice, I pretty much only eat Granny Smiths nowadays, purely for the texture. Would happily go back to Cox’s Orange Pippins if they were ever on sale here. 

  38. pjcamp says:

     McIntosh doesn’t count any more. They’re usually mealy. I suspect the variety has been pushed too far.

    You really need to look into sort of “lost’ varieties to find the gems. Around here, the two best are Mutzus and Winesaps. The Mutzu is bigger than a softball, uglier than homemade sin (mottled brown and seasick green) and totally awesome – the crispness of a Granny Smith, with some of the Granny’s tang mixed with the Fuji’s sweet. It is hands down the best apple I’ve ever eaten and I make a 75 mile expedition every fall to get some.

    Macoun. Esopus Spitzenburg. Arkansas Black. Northern Spy. Hudson’s Golden Gem. All awesome but hard to find.

    • Paul Renault says:

      Russets!  If you can pick them off the tree yourself.

      Hard like rocks, but soo sweet, so delicious.

      • Gilbert Wham says:

         Best apple ever

      • Ryan Lenethen says:

        Hard to find, but I remember these as a kid. Likely not as popular as they aren’t as pretty as some. Always been a bit partial to Golden D as well. Granny Smith is another distinctive one.

      • bigomega73 says:

        YES!!! I was about to post that but you beat me to it. What an unusual apple! The ones we had growing up in England we entirely brown and covered in a slight fuzz. Apparently others aren’t completely brown or fuzzy. But the taste is uniqite. Sweet and nutty.

    • L_Mariachi says:

      Arkansas Blacks are like what Red Delicious was going for but fell way short of.

  39. gwailo_joe says:

    Once or twice in my life I have had a cold crisp Red Delicious as it must be meant to be consumed…sliced…peeled…actually fairly delicious.

    But mostly since then one mealy bitter bite is enough. It becomes an apple for throwing…

    Fujis. Honeycrisp (those I just discovered months ago…my go-to apple) and …the rest.

    I’ve learned quite a bit here though: 100+ comments…we do care about our fruits.

    Johnny would be proud.

  40. Ray Cortopassi says:

    The apple with the most antioxidants is, drum roll please…… Red Delicious! (google it) The skin has the most. Yes, they do tend to get meally, so you want to buy them fresh, and keep them cold, and have great flavor. I work in the produce dept, and I only eat reds. Sure, a honeycrisp is much sweeter, but is that really what you want and need from your fruit? If you want sweet, go have a candy bar.

  41. noah django says:

    man, we are some apple loving mofos .  103 comments in ten-and-a-half hours?  it’s like I’m in the halloween candy ranking thread all over again.

    • welcomeabored says:

      It’s safe to express an opinion on apples.  A subject so subjective it’s difficult to challenge.  Notice the absence of ‘the usual suspects’.  ;^)

      • noah django says:

         agreed.  there is a small bit of back-and-forth between a few people defending red delicious and their detractors, but the halloween candy thread was faster and far more cut-throat and nasty.  I only meant that this thread centered on love of an edible and that it filled up relatively fast.

  42. richard77 says:

     If you visit Italy, try “renette” variety. They very good also for cooking (especially with duck)

  43. I like _____ apples, but you probably haven’t heard of them.

  44. Sparg says:

    As a child we had a couple Jonathan trees in our backyard.  Those things were tart, but made such fine pies and applesauce.  Used to mix them with the rhubarb.  Nomnom.  These days for straight eating I stick with the Fuji or Braeburn.

  45. Preston Sturges says:

    My GF’s neighborhood is an orchard, and there are lots of trees.  old apple trees need to pruned aggressively to improve fruit quality.

    And a fire of old apple wood is pleasure – the logs burn hot, last along long time, and smell sweet.

    Good wood for smoking meat.  It is a pleasure to drive through the country after thanksgiving and pass a big smoker full of venison and sausage and burning apple wood. What a smell.

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