Saturday, March 7, 2009

Red Delicious

Perfect, sultry Red Delicious was my childhood favorite, but I haven't had one in decades. Will this apple be my Proustian madeline?

Everyone probably knows Red Delicious--large, ribbed, impossibly elongated, and a beautiful glossy red with deep purplish streaks, freckled attractively with many light lenticels. Its characteristic conical shape tapers down to prominent bumps or "chins" at its base.

This is the apple the witch gave to Snow White. My sample is extra shiny from wax.

So, here goes. There's crisp juicy yellow flesh that is rather coarser than fine. The taste--well, this is striking--there really isn't any. There's sweetness, a tiny hint of balancing tart that is mostly manifest in a slightly astringent finish, but nothing else. (No Proustian recall for me.)

This taste of this apple is so generic it could almost be that of any number of other fruits, were they similarly stripped of identifying characteristics. (This is not like the lightness of, say, Mutsu, which has distinctive character if not strong flavor.) Not unpleasant, but why bother?

In my early 20s I knew a young woman who had at one point run away with fruit gypsies to pick apples. She sneered at Red Delicious, a "cardboard apple." Still in thrall to my childhood tastes, I didn't understand her. Now I do. Jennifer, you were right.

Update: More on Red Delicious here.

Further update: If you like Red Delicious, you might also like these.


  1. I found you at the help forum.
    I enjoy the Red Delicious. Well, when it is a good one. Some are too ripe or something. Now I admit I haven't tried many varieties, but for Honeycrisp and Fuji, I believe. Honeycrisp at times seems too tart and always appreciate going back to an old favourite. :)

  2. Kim, it can be hard to find a good Red Delicious sometimes. This variety has been in some ways a victim of its own success.

    I recently wrote some suggestions of apples for the Delicious lover to try.

    However, I am surprised that you find Honeycrisp to be, by implication, more tart than Delicious. It casts doubt on my whole project of recommending alternative apple varieties based on what people like.

    If you try some other varieties, I'd be curious to know what you, as a Red D fan, think of them.

  3. Red delicious seems to be a universally hated apple, it's the apple that puts people off to all apples if they haven't had the luck to try different varieties. I personally hate them. Mealy dry texture, no flavor, bitter thick skin. The only redeeming quality appears to be the appearance. I've read that original red delicious apples were must tastier but the good vintage varieties are hard to find.

    1. Sunny, as you can see Delicious does not do much for me, but hate?

      Say rather, She is more to be pitied than censured.

      I mean here was an apple that got sported to a fare-the-well. Isn't that sad?

      Those who did that to her have reaped what they sowed in that department too, and growers seem to have learned good lessons from that experience.

      Or so I like to think!


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