Apple Varieties Grown at Harvest Time

The following varieties are grown in our Pick-Your-Own orchard.
Check the schedule for the starting dates!



One of the most widely grown apple varieties in the world, and a mainstay of the supermarket apple selection - not least because it is available year round from northern and southern hemisphere suppliers. One of the unique features of Gala is that it can be grown with good quality results in both temperate and warm apple-growing regions, and it is generally regarded as a low-chill variety (i.e. it can be grown in regions which experience less than 800 hours of cool winter temperatures a year).

Gala is a cross between Kidd's Orange Red and Golden Delicious - a highly promising start. Bearing in mind that Kidd's Orange Red is the offspring of Cox's Orange Pippin and (Red) Delicious, Gala is effectively a union of three of the world's most important and distinctive apple varieties. Perhaps the flavor does not quite live up to that promise, but this is still a very high quality apple (when home grown).

The coloration of Gala is exactly as you would expect from a cross between a Cox-type variety (Cox is one of the parents of Kidd's Orange Red) and Golden Delicious. It starts out as a very light colored Cox, mainly orange streaks over yellow; mature apples are much darker, often a strong red color. (The color is a good indicator in supermarket Galas of the age of the apple: if it is very pale then it is probably the new season's crop, probably picked slightly early; if it is very dark then either it has been left deliberately on the tree to mature or it has matured over a long period in a cold store).

Apple purists tend to dismiss supermarket varieties like Gala as bland and boring, often with good reason. However it has to be said that if you want a reliable sweet easy-eating apple, Gala is actually hard to beat. It is also important to compare "apples with apples" - a locally-picked specialist variety in a farmers market is inevitably going to taste better than a supermarket Gala which has travelled from another country. However, anyone fortunate enough to have tried a Gala straight from the tree will know that it has a surprisingly punchy sweet flavor, not found in supermarket specimens. In freshly-picked examples the sweetness typical of Gala has a pear-like quality - which is perhaps more fully expressed in one of its offspring, Jazz.

At the end of the day, whilst there are undoubtedly many better varieties around, none of them are so readily available ! [top]


McIntosh is without doubt one of the great North American apple varieties. Like its 19th century contemporaries Golden Delicious and Red Delicious, it has become a highly influential apple variety with numerous offspring. However unlike those varieties its popularity has not spread outside North America, and indeed most "Mac" production, remains centred in New England and across the border in Quebec and Ontario. The apple was discovered by a John McIntosh, a farmer in Ontario in the early 19th century, and he and his family became involved in propagating trees. The McIntosh apple was ideally suited to the climate of the area, being a heavy and reliable cropper with good cold hardiness, and seems to achieve its best flavor in colder apple-growing regions.

The McIntosh style is typified by attractive dark red or (more often) crimson colors, and a crunchy bite, often with bright white flesh. The flavor is simple and direct, generally sweet but with refreshing acidity, and usually a hint of wine - often referred to as "vinous". In general these apples keep reasonably well in store, but the flavor falls away quite rapidly - although remaining perfectly pleasant. Nevertheless to get the full vinous sugar rush it is best straight from the tree.

These characteristics - the crimson color, white flesh, and vinous flavor (which fades in storage) - are invariably apparent in its numerous offspring, making this one of the easiest apple styles to identify in taste tests. Indeed McIntosh appears to have very strong genes because its offspring are invariably crimson-colored with bright white flesh, regardless of the nature of the other parent. As a result telling the offspring apart is a not that easy - the distinctive Mac flavor tends to cut across the characteristics of the other parent. (The one exception is Sunrise, an excellent apple in its own right, but with a very different flavor and a more obvious visual similarity to its other parent, Golden Delicious).[top]


Sometimes marketed as Honey Crisp, this is a crisp, and predomoninantly sweet, modern variety from the USA. It was developed by the University of Minnesota specifically for growers in cold climates, and is one of the most cold-hardy of apple varieties.

Honeycrisp, or Honey Crisp, is a modern apple variety, developed in the 1960s and introduced to the market in the 1990s - sometimes trademarked as Honeycrunch. It is increasingly available in supermarkets. Honeycrisp comes from a long line of apples developed by the University of Minnesota from the 1930s onwards. One of the objectives of this breeding programme has been to develop varieties which can tolerate the bitter cold of winters in some parts of the USA, and most plantings have been in the northern USA, including New England, Minnesota and Washington State.

Honeycrisp is a medium-to-large sized apple, with a light green/yellow background largely covered with red-orange flush with strong hint of pink if grown in good sunlight. The skin may be flecked with occasional russet dots. The flesh is white, perhaps not quite as bright as a McIntosh style apple, but similarly crisp and not too dense. The color however can be quite variable.

The flavour is sweet with very little trace of acidity and little depth or complexity. There can also be a trace of pear-drop flavour. In a good example this is a juicy and instantly refreshing apple, in a less good example it will be simply sweet and bland (but still very nice). As its name suggests this is genuinely a crisp / crunchy apple. However since the flesh is quite light, the crunch is surprisingly soft, nothing like the hard crisp crunch of a good Golden Delicious.

Surprisingly for a modern commerical apple variety, Honeycrisp tends to bruise easily, and therefore is usually sold in packs rather than loose. Northern hemisphere fruit ripens relatively early in September. It is probably too early to tell how successful Honeycrisp will become, but it is certainly a good-quality dessert apple. The flavour whilst not outstanding is certainly very good, making it a very enjoyable and undemanding apple, particularly if cooled in the fridge before eating.[top]


Also known as: Philip Rick

Jonathan is a classic American variety, and widely regarded as one of the best flavored with a good sweet/sharp balance.

Parentage / Origin: Woodstock, New York, 1862

Good eating, baking and keeping apple. Medium-sized attractive fruit, striped red with high color in spots. Flesh juicy and crisp. flavor refreshing and subacid.

Jonathan is known for its use in pies and applesauce. This crimson apple with occasional touches of green has a spicy tang that blends well with other varieties in sauces and cider.

Jonathan is a parent of Idared, Jonagold and other less familiar apple varieties.[top]


A very popular commercial variety, with a good flavour. Inherits many of the good qualities of its parents Jonathan and Golden Delicious.

Jonagold is high quality American apple, developed in the 1940s. As its name suggests, this is a cross between a Jonathan and a Golden Delicious. It is quite widely grown, and unusually for a Golden Delicious cross, is not limited to the warm apple regions, although it is not often found in the UK.

Jonagold is a large apple, and makes a substantial snack. If you are struggling to eat your 5 portions of fruit and veg per day, this can help! The large size is a good clue that this is a tetraploid apple variety, with 3 sets of genes. As a result it is a poor pollinator of other apple varieties, and needs two different nearby compatible pollinating apple varieties.

The coloring is yellow of Golden Delicious, with large flushes of red. This is a crisp apple to bite into, with gleaming white flesh. The flavour is sweet but with a lot of balancing acidity - a very pleasant apple. Jonagold's other parent, Jonathan, is an old American variety which was discovered in the 1820s.[top]


One of the best McIntosh-style apples, with a good sweet vinous flavor.

In North America, deep red apples have always been popular, and Empire is a typical example of this style of apple. The color is an intense marroon-red, overlying a light green background, and for children in particular it shouts out "eat me".

Empire was developed at Cornell University in New York state, USA in the 1940s, and its parents are classic old North American varieties - Red Delicious and McIntosh. These are both shiny red apples. It is an ideal lunch-box apple, not least because it does not bruise easily.

Empire is a sweet apple with a crisp texture and bright white flesh. Although Empire can be stored for a short period, it is best when eaten straight from the tree. It has the characteristic and unusual McIntosh flavor, often described in apple textbooks as "vinous". Perhaps the best way to describe it is like a hint of melon or pineapple or elderflower. [top]

Red Delicious

One of the most famous American apple varieties, a sport of Delicious, known for its bright red color.

Red Delicious is one of the most famous American apples, and one of the most widely grown apple varieties. Although the names are similar, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious are entirely different varieties. There are a lot of other similarities though: both varieties were discovered in the USA at the end of the 19th century, both need warm climates, both have interesting histories, and both are basically sweet apples.

Red Delicious is "sport" of the original Delicious apple, the bright red color making it more commercially successful, and it has become a very important commercial apple variety especially in North America.

Red Delicious is a medium-sized apple, with a tall conical shape. The dark and intense crimson color makes it the quintessential red apple, and it is has strong shelf appeal. Red Delicious has a sweet but very mild flavor, somewhat reminscent of slightly over-ripe melon. The flesh is juicy and has a light crispness. The skin can be quite tough. Overall Red Delicious can be quite a refreshing apple to eat.

Red Delicious has been extensively used in breeding programs, and its most interesting modern offspring is probably Fuji. It is also a parent of Empire, which inherits some of the melon flavor. It may also be a parent of Cameo.[top]

Golden Delicious

Undoubtedly one of the most important apple varieties of the 20th century, both as a commercial variety in its own right, and as breeding stock for many other varieties. Very good flavor when home-grown.

The variety was discovered by a West Virginia farmer at the end of the 19th century. It is generally considered to be a seedling of Grimes Golden, to which it bears a strong resemblance. The variety was soon taken up by the famous Stark Brothers nursery, who were so impressed by it that they bought the original tree and an area of land around it. The tree lived on into the 1950s, by which time it had become firmly established as one of the world's great apple varieties.

Golden Delicious is now planted in all the major warm apple growing areas of the world. From a grower's perspective Golden Delicious is an attractive proposition - very easy to grow, heavy crops, and fruit which keeps in storage for a long time after harvest.

These qualities meant that by the mid-late 20th century Golden Delicious had become one of the mainstays of supermarket apple sales, along with Red Delicious and Granny Smith.

Enthusiasts are increasingly re-discovering Golden Delicious, and recognising that behind the mass-production and supermarket shelf-appeal there is a very good apple. Part of the problem is that fruit picked for supermarkets is often picked when still green, and then stored for months before sale. In contrast when allowed to ripen to a golden-green color on the tree the true flavour is revealed - exceptionally sweet and rich, almost like eating raw sugar cane. Golden Delicious is also a versatile apple, and can be used both for dessert and cooking purposes, and it has an attractive appearance - which can indeed be golden if left to mature on the tree.[top]


Braeburn was the first of the new wave of bi-colored apple varieties. It originated in New Zealand in the 1950s, and by the last decades of the 20th century had been planted in all the major warm apple-growing regions of the world. Braeburn accounts for 40% of the entire apple production of New Zealand. Even in conservative Washington state, the most important apple-producing area of the USA, where Red Delicious and Golden Delicious have always held sway, Braeburn is now in the top 5 varieties produced.

The reasons for this success are not difficult to pinpoint. What marks it out from the competition is flavor. Braeburn's depth of flavor makes its main competition - Red Delicious and Golden Delicious - seem one-dimensional in comparison. At a time when consumers were starting to look for something less bland in their weekly shopping, Braeburn was the right apple at the right time.

The first Braeburn tree was discovered growing in New Zealand in the 1950s, and is named after Braeburn Orchards, where it was first grown commercially. It is generally thought to be a seedling of a variety called Lady Hamilton. The other parent is not known, but is popularly believed to be Granny Smith - quite likely given the time and location of its discovery, but there seems to be no scientific evidence to confirm this theory.

When conditions are right there is no doubt that Braeburn is a first-class dessert apple. It easily outstrips its late 20th century peer group (Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Red Delicious) with a richness and complexity of flavour that they cannot match. In fact in many ways Braeburn is now the benchmark apple variety against which all other commercial varieties should be ranked. It is crisp, without being hard, and very juicy. It snaps cleanly to the bite, and there is an immediate rush of strong apple flavours. The overall flavour is sharp and refreshing but with a good balance of sweetness - and never sugary. There is occasionally a hint of pear-drops to the flavour of a new-season Braeburn (a characteristic which is more prominent in its offspring Jazz). Braeburn is at its best when cooled slightly below room temperature, and if you get a good one it really reminds you why you like eating apples.[top]

The following varieties (Blondee®, Zestar!™ and Fuji) are NOT YET available in our Pick-Your-Own orchard. Check each variety for its estimated starting year of pick-your-own.


A new variety for the early season, Blondee is a yellow-skinned Gala-type apple, ripening approximately 5 days before traditional Gala. The Blondee is very good for fresh eating, has a smooth finish and crunchy texture.

Blondee is the best early yellow apple to date. Bite into the fruit and you'll find it is sweet with a zing and is exceptionally firm and crunchy, similar to a Gala. The smooth yellow skin occasionally has a blush on the cheeks. Its cream-white flesh resists browning. Blondee ripens in late August to early September and it stores well for an early apple, up to several weeks with proper refrigeration.

We estimate that we will begin pick-your-own of the Blondee® apple variety in the 2016 apple season.



"Full of flavor" would characterize Zestar! apples well. The flesh is crisp and juicy with a great sugar/acid balance. The most outstanding feature of a Zestar! Apple is its sprightly sweet-tart taste with a hint of brown sugar. And, unlike other early season apples that are often soft or mealy, Zestar! is juicy with a light, crisp texture. Just one bite, and you will savor the zesty flavor and crunch.

Growers and apple lovers will delight in this tasty apple that ripens so early in the season. Zestar! fruit ripen in late August to early September. It’s the perfect way to start the apple season on a good note.

Zestar! apples are nice and round with an average diameter of approximately 3 inches. Their color is 60-85% red depending on exposure to the sun. Where the sun shines on the fruit, a bright rosy-red blush develops. Shaded areas are often creamy yellow. We’re confident that you will be pleased with this flavorful, crisp apple.

We estimate that we will begin pick-your-own of the Zestar!™ apple variety in the 2015 apple season.



Fuji was developed in Japan in the 1940s and released in 1962. However its parentage is all-American. Fuji is a cross between the widely grown Red Delicious, and Ralls Janet, which is much less well known but is probably the reason for Fuji's attractive pink flush. A very attractive modern apple, crisp, sweet-flavoured, and keeps well.

Fuji is surely one of the more attractive modern apple varieties. Its main characteristic is the lovely pink speckled flush over a yellow-green background. It is also crisp and juicy, with dull white flesh which snaps cleanly. The flavor is predominantly sweet, very refreshing (especially if slightly chilled).

Fuji is a late-ripening apple variety. Fuji apples need lots of sunshine to ripen properly so it is not grown commercially in the nothern USA.

We estimate that we will begin pick-your-own of the Fuji apple variety in the 2014 apple season.


Some information provided by US Apple and Orange Pippin