I turn to it with pleasure in the off season, and apple breeders return to it again and again for its amiable eating and growing qualities.
At its best GD is a lovely fruit, sweet and mild with hints of pear and honey, crisp and juicy but not hard. It is often near its best, and available in supermarkets year round.
There's just enough underlying tartness to balance the honey and deliver a clean finish.
Discovered as a chance seedling in West Virginia 1891, Golden Delicious is thought to have fallen not far from the tree of the excellent, if less sturdy, Grimes Golden.
Starks Brothers popularized Golden D in the early 20th century and gave it a name to match its popular Red Delicious. The two varieties are not otherwise related.
|Smoothee Golden Delicious, a variant|
Nonetheless production of this variety has dropped from 1.7 billion pounds in 1987 to an estimated 0.8 billion pounds in 2012, according to the U.S. Apple Association.
That's still a lot of apples, and Golden Delicious is hardly without honor, in its own country or out of it. There's a Golden Delicious Festival every September in West Virginia, where the apple has been the state fruit since 1995.
See for instance the long (yet incomplete) list of descendent varieties (scroll down) listed at Orange Pippin. Offspring include Gala, Piñata, Blushing Golden, and Ozark Gold.
Golden Delicious also deserves respect in its own right. Do we perhaps take it for granted? Would we not miss it if it vanished from the market? At more than a century, it qualifies as an heirloom variety.
The boy who found this variety in 1891 left us his story.
I just wanted you and [e]very body else to know that I'm the fellow that didn't cut down that apple tree seedling one day when I was mowin' the pasture field.