Thursday, May 14, 2009

Granny Smith *

Distinctive Granny Smith breaks the mold of sweet-and-similar industrial apples. It packs some real acidity--and that color!

Large and classically shaped, this variety is slightly ribbed and slightly tapered (though more cylindrical than conical). The skin is a beautiful spring green, on closer inspection resolving into two distinct shades. In the stem well and elsewhere the color is rich and saturated. In many other regions the green is glazed and milky.

These two veridian tints mix in streaks on most of the surface. The many large lenticels are lightest of all. The apple is firm and its aroma has citrusy overtones.

Inside is medium-dense white flesh shot with green highlights, full of tart juice. It is crisp but not "breaking" and each bite has a little give to it. Though her acidity asserts itself there is a good deal of balancing sweetness. Lime, pear, and cane sugar mingle together, and the balance suggests an almost vinous quality. The skin is a bit chewy and there's a little nice lingering astringency.

Depending, maybe, on time of harvest, Granny can be harsh, but at best this variety is lively, refreshing, and no great challenge to enjoy. Her crabapple ancestry expresses itself gracefully in her taste. The dense flesh and assertive flavor make this one great for cooking, too.

This variety's year-round success holds a lesson for growers and breeders tempted to replicate the success of the Latest Sweet Thing. Granny is a genuine mutation, found as a chance seedling in New South Wales in the second half of the 19th Century.

No one bred this apple or would try to, yet it is probably Australia's most well-known apple export. Instantly recognizable, The Beatles chose it as the logo (at right) for their record label.


  1. Replies
    1. I know some bakers who would disagree with you!

      But I find that Granny is good for all sorts of cooking where you'd like the apple to retain its shape.

  2. I bought a GS apple tree and am dismayed by it. It is particularly prone to large aphid infestations. At its best, it makes a poor cooking apple. I have no idea why it is recommended by cooks/cookbooks. Cooked, it has a mealy texture with no jouice, so it is awful in apple pie. Makes deplorable applesauce. Go for a Pippin! No comparison

    1. A chacun son goute! I find they answer well for baking.

    2. I think Granny Smiths must vary wildly in taste and texture based on where/how they are grown. The ones I can find where I live are similarly disgusting, and have a strong taste of something like the way hay smells when they are cooked. I don't like it all, I never use them in baking any more and have given up trying to find 'good' ones, as I can only assume the people raving about them are somehow eating a different tasting apple.

  3. Current Granny Smiths differ from what I remember when I first discovered them years ago. Perhaps it's just a reflection of the sad state of my teeth, but they seem much harder now, and the taste is unbearably tart.

    I used to really love this apple.

    1. John, I believe the big growers standardly pick early, which could account for the tartness.

      I believe John Bunker says Granny has been degraded by sporting. We humans just can't leave well enough alone, it seems.


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